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May 29, 2018

Serena Williams

Paris, France

S. WILLIAMS/Kr. Pliskova

7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. I guess you're happy. Well, I'd like to know how difficult it was, and if you had tried before that suit that you put today, because was it difficult to get adjust to that, black cat, or I don't know how you call it. And if it's sweating? Is it sweating to stay there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: So the first question was?

Q. Well, if you're happy about the match, the way you won it, how important it is, the dress.
SERENA WILLIAMS: So, yeah, I think the match went, you know, well. It wasn't -- it wasn't an easy match, because, I mean, the beginning was so many aces and I knew that after her first game of serving, I said, Okay, I have to serve really well today. I need to really be on my game serving-wise, because, you know, there's not going to be a tremendous amount of rallies.

So, yeah, I was struggling to get in a little rhythm because it was so much acing, so many aces going on.

But overall, I was definitely happy with my performance and how I played today.

As for the cat suit, the new version, 2.0 (smiling), it's cool. I call it like my Wakanda-inspired cat suit. It's really fun. Although we designed it way before the movie, but still, it kind of reminds me of that.

It was comfortable. I tried it on a couple of times before. Hadn't tried it on in a long time, like, over a month. So I was just winging it in the last minute.

Q. Is there any chance that any of your opponents will underestimate you as opposed to what might have happened in the past?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I feel like -- I can't answer that. Usually everyone I play doesn't. But, you know, I'm just here enjoying myself and see what happens. It would be nice.

Q. First match back at a Grand Slam in a while. I guess an opponent like her, lefty, big server a little bit, and is that a difficult match for you to gauge your level, or are you able to get out of this match and say, No, I'm happy with this, this, and this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it usually could be a difficult way to gauge my level. Like I said, there was a ton of aces in the match, especially the first set. But I feel like the second set we had a lot more rallies and we were getting in the rhythm a little bit more, and that kind of helped a little bit.

I feel like I'm on the right track. You know, I have been putting a lot of work in on the court, off the court, on the court, on the court, off the court, that's kind of been my life. I have been really enjoying it. Hopefully the results continue to show.

Q. What would you say is the biggest difference about being a mom at a Grand Slam tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: So this is an easy answer. The biggest difference is definitely I'm semi on time today, two minutes late, because I want to get home and see Olympia, because I have been here all day. You know, there was a couple of rain delays. So I haven't been able to -- usually we hang out all the time. If I'm not practicing, we're hanging out.

So that is the biggest difference. I'm, you know, I'm concerned how that's going to work out for me, because normally in Grand Slams, I do spend a lot of time at the site. She's so young, I don't really bring her.

So, yeah, this is definitely going to be interesting.

Q. How much more difficult do you think it is to be a mother playing tennis than, say, some of the fathers who are playing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, first and foremost, you have to get your core back, which is hard, because it literally spreads when you have a baby. That's difficult. And just coming back from the physical of having a baby, at my age (smiling) is never, I think, really easy.

You know, emotionally I think it's different, because, you know, I'm so emotionally attached to my daughter. Dads are, too, but I actually breast fed for a really, really, really long time, and so I just had this real connection with my daughter.

Yeah, so I think there is definitely some differences, but there is a lot of similarities, as well, too.

Q. Are you here at Roland Garros to compete or are you here because you believe that you can win it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, I'm definitely here to compete and do the best that I can do, obviously. I'm not putting any pressure on myself as I normally do. I think deep down we all know the answer to that.

Q. I'm a mum of two young children. Full of admiration for you. What's been the most difficult thing for you to juggle?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't say it's been super-difficult. I mean, I'm really fortunate enough that I can plan my days and I can plan, like, my career. I feel like most moms don't have the opportunity that I do.

So I plan my day, like, training is X of time. Then I spend all this time with Olympia. And then if I need to train again, I have X time in training because of her nap schedules.

So I feel like in the beginning it was difficult to learn her nap schedules, even though she's never on schedule, but at least I know that for certain parts of the day I'm spending all that time with her, because I don't want her to ever feel like I'm not around. I'm a super hands-on mom. Maybe too much (smiling).

Q. The Royal Wedding was great. It was pretty incredible to see yourself, Meghan, Oprah, the choir rocking it with "This Little Light of Mine," and Dr. Curry's sermon on love was quite extraordinary. Could you talk about that experience and what it meant to you just to see the prominence and the impact of African-American culture in the context of the Royal culture?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's different. You know, it was really exciting to see so much African-American culture impacted in the wedding, and I was really happy that Meghan wanted to incorporate that into it. I think it was just a whole cultural shift and change. It was seeing how far African-Americans have come, I thought it was an incredibly inspiring and beautiful and really motivating thing.

I was so proud of her and so happy for her.

Q. Coming back to your outfit, it has any special meaning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, queen from Wakanda maybe. I'm always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a super hero, and it's kind of my way of being a super hero. I feel like a super hero when I wear it.

Q. To ask you about your level of tennis at the moment, what are the things you feel you're doing well at the moment, and what are the things you really need to improve upon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think I'm serving pretty good, better than, you know, a few months ago. So that's really exciting. I definitely feel like I can still improve on that a great deal, like, my speed on my serve isn't as fast as I normally hit it, but also I didn't really try to hit it that much. I was going more for placement.

But, you know me. I really feel like I can improve on literally everything, and that's the great thing, as I feel like I can improve and there is room for improvement, and that means I can get better.

So I'm really excited that I'm playing again, and I'm getting to that level, and there is so much room for improvement in my game.

Q. Going back a bit to the Royal Wedding, how did you feel about the advertisement that says "the Queen is back"? Also, how was the beer pong?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The advertisement "the Queen is back" is interesting because Nike came up with this idea right when I decided I was going to come back. And so it's kind of interesting how it all tied into the wedding and, you know, then I felt a little awkward, because now, you know, Meghan is royalty and I have known her for so many years, and I'm like, I'm not -- now she's a princess. Anyway, it's a -- a duchess, I should say, excuse me.

But anyway, it's all really cool. Oh, there was no beer pong. I don't know where this story -- I don't even drink beer, and I don't know where this story came out.

It's not even remotely true. And my friends are, like, What happened? I'm like, There was no beer pong. So it's kind of funny how that was just, like, I was looking at Alexis, like, wait a minute, did we miss something?

Anyway, we have a big laugh about it.

Q. Have you ever considered to change or add the name of your husband to your name when you play tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It would be complicated. I'm just going to stick with Williams. (Smiling.)

Q. You hadn't played in a couple of months and pulled out of a couple of clay court tournaments coming in here. Was there a chance you might not play here? When did you decide definitively you were going to be here? What was it that made you sure you wanted to come back now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely -- I wouldn't have played if I wasn't ready, and I felt like Rome and Madrid I wasn't ready to where I wanted to be at.

I wasn't going to play another tournament and not be as ready as I feel like I can compete. So that was basically my decision. And I knew, okay, I couldn't play Madrid and Rome, but I knew I had a goal to make it to here, and I was able to make my goal.

So there was a point where I wasn't sure, maybe like just 20% unsure, but I always knew that I would have a great chance to make it here.

Q. Your next opponent is a different challenge, Ash Barty. What are you expecting from her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she's playing unbelievable, and she's had such an amazing year last year and this year, as well. She's continuing her amazing rise since she came back and been so focused on tennis.

So it will be a really good, another good show for me. She does everything great. You know, I'll be excited to go out and see what I can do.

Q. You were candid and specific about your postpartum health concerns. I wonder what kind of response you may still be getting from that? And also, does the fabric of the cat suit have any functionality in terms of the compressive quality, given the issues you have had?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, so, I have been really candid, and with me speaking out about all my postpartum problems and all the issues that I had and, you know, just literally not sure if I was going to make it or not at several different times, a lot of people have really reached out, because they have so many similar stories, too.

I feel like a lot of people don't talk about it. They talk about the baby and how happy they are. But it's a lot that goes into it with the pregnancy and with giving birth and it's called a miracle for a reason, because it's a miracle and it's very difficult sometimes to make it through. I really appreciate that a lot more now.

So it's been really, without trying, you know, I have just been speaking out about it, and so many women can relate. And now they feel to speak out about it. And then we can open up the community and talk about it more and help each other out, because it's something that we should talk about.

And, yeah, the cat suit, I had a lot of problems with my blood clots, and, God, I don't know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So it is definitely a little functionality to it. I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep, you know, the blood circulation going.

It's a fun suit, but it's also functional so I can be able to play without any problems.

Q. Could you tell us how helpful Moratoglou Academy was for you to come back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, the academy was great for me. It was fabulous to, first of all, just be in Europe and just be on my own with the baby and just think only about tennis. And it's been a long time since I have been able to do that and I think that really helped my preparation for it. Not only for the clay court season for the rest of the year.

Q. I think you said something on Tennis Channel along the lines of the suit felt like it was representing working mothers battling through things. And I'm just wondering in general do you feel a greater symbolic power to what you do now? Sort of a different weight or responsibility? Some sort of different symbolism you feel yourself carrying that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was like I was saying in the earlier interview, it's not easy to come back with everything I have been through, and like I was saying earlier, there has been so many other women that have been through the same thing, and we just don't talk about it. So no one really knows about it, but now that we have that platform and now that we are talking about it, I am vocal about it.

Yeah, it feels like this suit represents all the women that have been through a lot mentally, physically with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves. I definitely feel like it is an opportunity for me to inspire a whole different group of amazing women and kids. It just kind of expands that, and I really, really embrace it.

Q. At Patrick's academy I believe you hit with some ATP players. I'm wondering what those practices were like, and had you done that in the past, hitting with ATP players before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I rarely hit with ATP players, although I don't know why, but it was great. It was a lot of fun. It was extremely difficult. I just stood in the corner because I'm not sure how I would have fared if we were playing points. It was a wonderful experience and it just kind of helped me get everything going and get my competition and competitive juices flowing.

Q. I was just wondering, you're so used to a schedule as an athlete and then you become a mother, so how does that schedule change and how do you keep focused and look ahead towards coming back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, my priority is Olympia. No matter what, that's my priority. I have given tennis so much, and tennis has actually given me a lot, and I couldn't be more grateful.

She's my priority, and I work everything around her. Like I said, I want her to know that I put -- I really try to put her first in my life, along with, you know, God and my family. I really try to put that first in my life.

I feel like everything else will fall into place, and it has. It's all -- I feel like it's all going to work out.

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