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March 12, 2018

Serena Williams

Indian Wells, California

V. WILLIAMS/S. Williams

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How was that playing your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was good. It was definitely, for me, it was a good match. You know, it wasn't very easy, obviously. It was good to play that and try to get in the rhythm and get into the swing again.

Q. Start of the week, you said on a scale of zero to Serena you were at the S. Have you advanced up the word yet?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not quite. I mean, just making -- missing shots that I never miss, and so close. At least they're in the margin. You know, I'm getting there. It's not exactly where I want to be, but, I mean, I'll get there eventually.

Q. What letter do you think you're at now, then?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I'm definitely at the S (smiling).

Q. You've played her a lot, but tonight she played pretty great overall?

Q. Forehand and backhand?

Q. Just talk about it.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think this is the best she's played in a while. She didn't make a lot of errors. She served very consistently. You know, she just did everything great.

For her, I think it was a really good match.

Q. You know her so well. Are there parts of her game that you think have improved even more over the last few years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, tonight I think everything was good. Everything kind of improved.

Yeah, so I definitely know her well, but she definitely played a little bit better than she normally does today.

Q. Does she ever surprise you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. I mean, I don't think so.

Q. The shots that you usually make that you're not making, what is it? Is it movement? Anticipation? Is it constant focus? What do you think the biggest thing is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's just match. You know, you're out there, and I can't really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice, or I make those shots 10 times out of 10 in practice.

It's just the nerves, the anticipation you feel naturally. You know, it's a little bit of everything that comes in a match that just doesn't normally happen.

Q. In just your third match back, luck of the draw, you face Venus here in Indian Wells. How did you manage the emotion of tonight leading into the match and then throughout the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just know I have to play a top seed early on regardless.

I don't know. I didn't really -- obviously I didn't want to play Venus so early on, but it can happen. I could play her -- I could have played her earlier. Yeah.

Q. You mentioned the other day that you and Venus have played so many more times besides the 29 matches that we have seen. I just wonder in what ways does it feel different out there on the court against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn't feel incredibly different. It just -- the last 29 times we have played, I guess, has been professional. Yeah.

Q. The disappointment aspect, does it feel a bit tougher at the moment than previously, or do you feel, because I have been away for over a year, it's to be expected. Will it take longer to get over is what I'm trying to get at, I guess.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's different. I haven't played in over a year. It's definitely not less disappointing. I wish it were, but it's not. But then again, I wish it wasn't. Then I wouldn't be who I am.

Yeah, so I just have a long way to go, and I'm looking forward to the journey.

Q. Such an anticipated matchup and the crowd atmosphere seemed quite electric. What did you make of the experience of just being out there and how much did you miss those sorts of audiences and atmospheres when you were away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. It was a good experience, I guess. I really don't think about that. You know, I just go out there and I do the best that I can at that moment, you know. I don't really think about the atmosphere so much.

Q. How far in the future are you looking at right now? Are you going tournament by tournament, day by day, week by week, month by month?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm going tournament by tournament. I'm definitely not thinking too far in the future. Ready for the next tournament. I'll get ready for that. I have a lot to improve on. You know, it's good that I don't have to say that this is the best tennis I have ever played and I lost. My room for improvement is incredible.

So I have just got to keep saying each tournament my goal is just to be better than the last, and I don't -- definitely don't want to go backwards. I just want to continue to go forwards. I think as long as I can do that, I will keep getting better.

Q. Champions in every sport always say, you know, I'll be happy just making progress, and yet you're used to winning. Your sister is. When something like this, you don't play what you had hoped or what you will hope in a month or two months or five months, does it bother you at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know how I'm going to feel in a month or two months or five months. I don't think I'll be disappointed. But I don't understand your question.

Q. In other words, the fact that you have won so much over the years and you know how to win, even in a match where "You shouldn't win because you have been out," does it bother you that you don't play as well as you want?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think it would have been a surprise if I had have won. So I don't know if it's should have won, should have lost kind of thing. I think people would have been, Well, it's expected. She's Serena. What do you expect?

So it's always disappointing to me to lose to anyone. It doesn't matter at any time, at any stage in my career. But, you know, there's always -- there is a silver lining always for me, and this one match there is yet another silver lining.

I have to look forward to the next match and the next time and going forward and trying to do a little bit better.

Q. You have talked about being kinder to yourself kind of as a benefit of being with your daughter, and then also that you are on this journey. How is Patrick working with you to also help manage those expectations? Because you have such high standards for yourself.
SERENA WILLIAMS: We work well together. You know, if I expect a lot of myself, he expects a little bit more, which is interesting (smiling). But it's good, because I have such high standards. And to work with someone that has even higher expectations is exactly what I need.

Q. You were saying you were pretty nervous today, which over the years you wouldn't get nervous at all.
SERENA WILLIAMS: When did I say that?

Q. I don't know. Maybe three minutes ago.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I did? I used the word "nervous"?

Q. I think so. "Nerves."
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think I was nervous. I think I was nervous in my first match, but other than that, I didn't mean to use that word. But I felt good out there.

Q. What are you taking with you from these three matches that you have played? What have you learned about where your game is at and how you carry with you into the next practice and carry with you into Miami?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I learn everything I need to work on and the improvements I'm going to make going into Miami. So I know that there is a plethora of things that I want to improve on, but I'm going to start with the first few and rank them as -- maybe I will write them all down and rank, see which ones are the most important and start with that.

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