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July 11, 2019
Wimbledon, London, England
S. WILLIAMS/B. Strycova
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You've had injuries, took a year out to have a child. You're still making finals. Where did you find the inner strength to keep competing at this level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I was thinking about it. I've been to a lot of semis and finals since I came back from the baby.
Yeah, I don't know. I just felt like if I could just get some matches, I could play well here. I did, I am, so...
Q. Elite athletes face pressure, landmarks. You've had this number 24 in front of you for a little while. How do you yourself handle dealing with the pressure, the hopes of reaching that mark?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought about it this morning. I actually didn't think about it since because it's really not about 24 or 23 or 25. It's really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what. No matter what I do, I will always have a great career.
I don't know. Like, I just kind of let it go this morning. Yeah, I feel really calm about it.
Q. Everything you did today seemed to work well, in terms of the way you seemed to volley well, pick up the short balls. Can we attribute that to your doubles practice this week?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I promise you, when I hit a volley I was like, Would I have made that if I didn't play doubles? I don't think so.
I kept telling you guys I thought the doubles would help me. I really think it did. I don't attack the net that much. I tried to and I want to.
I know, like, when I do, when I play doubles here with Venus, it definitely helps my singles game. I was really keen to play mixed here.
I really feel like it helped me, not just for today and this event, but hopefully it will help me just in the future.
Q. You served extra in the doubles.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Extra what?
Q. Doubles, playing the doubles earlier.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. You were able to do more serves. Has that helped? Where are you in terms of your best serves, where you can get to?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know if I've had my best serves this tournament. I've had some big ones. I'm just now starting to use my legs again. Well, two weeks ago in the tournament. Then I was like, Oh, my God, I forgot about my serve. It was kind of back. It felt good.
It's really just about rediscovering my technique on my serve, how I use my body, how I use every part of it, just really know that I can still improve.
Q. Some players here have been talking about the grass being slower on Centre Court in particular. You had no problem hitting through today. Do you feel the grass was slower?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I am definitely not the right player to ask for that, unless it's like an extreme, dramatic difference. I'm from Compton and everything is, like, amazing (smiling).
Q. This is your third final in the last 13 months or so of a Grand Slam. What do you take from the previous two in terms of what you learned from them, how your approach changes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I had to get to those finals, looking back, to even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable. Now I'm in a different place. Like I just am more calm. Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. It's like I'm in the middle.
I really want to do it. I'm in a different place because I wasn't really playing a month ago, like, at all. So it's all kind of coming together. I can't really put how I'm taking it.
Q. At 30-something pursuing this title, what are the differences in your emotions from when you won your first Wimbledon title?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was actually thinking this morning, when I won my first Wimbledon. I think it was against Venus. I was trying to tap into those emotions. I was really calm. I remember I think I hit an ace. I just remember, like, how it's so, so different when you're younger as opposed to now.
Now I just need to, like I said the other day, relax and do what I can do.
Q. You said you're very calm now. Maybe you're returning to how you felt back then.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was calm today. It's a day-to-day basis with me. We all know that. I'm far from perfect.
Q. Can you talk about the dejection and devastation of losing the final 12 months ago, and do you feel you're serving better than you were the last final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember much. I just remember I was tired and Angie played unbelievable. I actually was sad but I was also proud of myself. There was nothing I could do in that match. I did everything I could. Physically I just wasn't there.
I remember after that I just trained and I trained and I trained to get physically more fit. So I'm definitely at a different place. Yeah, I didn't have the preparation coming into Wimbledon of training for two weeks even. So that would have been nice.
But now I have to look at it in a different place. I have been, just this whole year, trying to stay fit so I can be able to play in Grand Slams.
Q. From what you said, you've been doing quite a lot of thinking this morning.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right?
Q. How often do you have these contemplative moments?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know.
Q. What brings them on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know what brought it on. I never usually think about it. Two of the questions that you all asked, I literally was thinking about those things this morning. Just trying to tap into that younger Serena, trying to tap into how to win basically.
Q. Is it a deliberate meditative thing or just thoughts that come into your head?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was definitely deliberate. As I was thinking, other thoughts were popping in my brain.
Q. Last week you were supported by your friend, the Duchess of Sussex, in the early rounds. It drew a bit of criticism, as well, at the time. Do you hope she'll come and support you in the final, sort of ignore all of that negative media that happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I didn't know there was negative media out there. Any time I see her name attached to anything, I don't read it.
She couldn't be a better friend to me. Low moments, high moments, she's always there. That's all I want to be to her.
Q. There was a lot of talk this week about the questioning that Johanna Konta faced after her loss in the quarterfinals, questioning she faced in the press conference afterwards. What do you think about the situation? She felt she was patronized.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have to apologize. I really step away from the tennis when I'm away from it. I do know it could be a lot of negativity. I don't want to surround myself around that.
I feel like she's had a remarkable year. If anything, everyone should be happy for her, especially what she's done in the past 12 months, just coming back around and changing, coming back to, like, semifinals of the French Open, then quarterfinals here.
I would only think it should have been positive questions, but that's not the case a lot of the time. Hopefully everyone can learn from that.
Q. Simona Halep has done some cool stuff in the last couple years, longer than that. Now she's made slam finals in three of the four slams, finished the year No. 1 twice. What is the most impressive thing about her and what do you make of what she's managed to accomplish so far?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's so many impressive things about her. I think obviously her tenacity. I think her ability to improve every time, just to keep improving. Her ability to find power. Can't underestimate her. She's like a little powerhouse.
Obviously, yeah, she finished the year No. 1 twice in a row. I feel like she's back. She wants to prove that she can do it again.
Q. When you spoke about being calm, is that when you know things are clicking for you, when you feel that equilibrium? Does that settle you, make you play better?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely feel like I play better when I'm calm. But it's definitely an effort. Not getting over-pumped, but at the same time not getting under-wound. I have to be in that right space.
Q. What do you think has been the key to your success against Simona in past matches? What sticks out in your mind from the match in Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had. I never forgot it. She played unbelievable. That makes me know that level she played at, she can get there again. So I have to be better than that.
Q. So much of us are talking about the history that you could make this weekend as far as your age, I don't know if 37 is the new 27, whatever. But can you talk about the fact that you are doing this at this age, what it says about you, about people being able to compete at older ages?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think technology has really changed. That's the only reason I'm able to compete. I feel like if we had this technology 20 years ago, maybe Michael Jordan would still be playing basketball. I just feel like we know so much more about our bodies.
Things I do different now than when I first was on tour, it's lengthening my career. It's not just me, it's Roger, Tom Brady, Peyton played forever. There are so many athletes now that are able to do better and play longer, even play some of their best way after 30s.
Those athletes, Tiger obviously, what he did at the Masters, was on top of my mind. Those athletes are incredibly inspiring. That's one thing that keeps me moving forward.
Q. I like your outfit today. I'd like to know if in the morning with all your thoughts you start thinking what you're going to wear for the press conference afterwards, if you grab it at the last minute before you come here? How does it work? If someone else chooses for you or you do it? Second, from an Italian fashion point of view, here you're much more elegant than anywhere else. You should always play Wimbledon.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Thank you.
I made a conscious effort to up my press conference look in my Nike gear. My right hand, Dakota, picked out my outfits. But I prepare, like, the night before. I kind of try 'em on. Hmm, this looks cute, this looks nice, I'll wear this (smiling).
Definitely not the day of. Like, that's too much pressure.
Q. It's Philip's last year as chairman of Wimbledon. Some players shared some interactions they had with him. Do you have anything to say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That he is always smiling. I just love it. I see him in Australia, I see him in New York, everywhere. I literally will be on the court and I swear I see him smiling. That is such a good moment and memory to have of Philip. I didn't know it was his last year. Is it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: So it's sad. He just really made my Wimbledon experience. How long has he been here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Has it been 10 years? I remember the guy before (smiling). It's time to go, wow. Okay, so...
Yeah, I just remember I really love him, and his wife Jill is amazing. I just love seeing him. Like, he'll pass my practice court and has this great big smile on his face. He really makes me feel welcome every year.
Q. Last year after the final you gave an impassioned speech. To paraphrase you said, To all the mothers out there, this was for you. That's been a theme of especially last year. When you walk out on Sunday, who are you playing this final for?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, I'm just playing for me. Last year was a really special moment. Oh, my God, Olympia was 10 months. She's not even two yet, yeah. So for that it was definitely a different moment.
It's a different experience. I'm happy to be back in this experience. I definitely wouldn't have predicted it a month ago, but here I am. I'm playing for everyone that didn't predict it a month ago (laughter).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports