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August 26, 2019

Serena Williams

New York, NY, USA

S. WILLIAMS/M. Sharapova

6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously the scoreboard says one thing, but how important is it to have a match like that where you have to focus on starting the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really important because it's good to have tough matches. Well, it's good to get through tough matches, especially for me. I really sometimes tend to start slow. It actually almost helps me.

Q. You haven't won this since 2014, no slams since 2017. You said you felt good. Is this your tournament to win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like I'm here to do that. We'll see what happens.

Q. Everything you've been through recently, physically and mentally, at this point in your career what is the hardest obstacle to get through? Physical part? Mental part?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've always been really mentally strong. I've always been really physically strong. I think just putting those two together at an event would be the biggest obstacle for me.

Q. You're now 20-2 against Sharapova. Why do you play so well against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just feel like her game really matches up well against mine. I always said her ball somehow lands in my strike zone. I don't know. It's just perfect for me.

Q. What do you think you did particularly well in the match tonight? What are you most pleased with?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I was able to zone in, especially down breakpoints, not letting her in the match because she's the kind of player that keeps going. Even towards the end, she just wants to keep fighting. One point here or there, she could have won at least another game.

I wanted to make sure I stayed focused.

Q. This morning a statue was unveiled for Althea Gibson. What message do you think it sends to have that statue here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it sends a great message to me in particular, knowing her story, knowing Althea, what she went through. Being truly the first pioneer, an African American in tennis, just to a sport that wasn't open to black people.

For her to now have a statue, all the things she's done for people like me, people that look like me, to be in the sport now, it's just astonishing.

Q. Your reaction to the USTA deciding not to have Carlos Ramos umpire your match? Do you think that was a good thing or you really didn't care?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know who that is.

Q. I now might be able to guess the answer to this. How much, if at all, last year's final entered your mind tonight? First time you've been playing a match here since then.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was great. I mean, the fans, like I said on the court, they were so amazing. I could hear them walking down the hallway. It was such a good feeling. It made me feel unbelievable, really helped me get amped up and pumped up.

Q. I can't remember you ever losing more than three times in a row to any opponent in your career. Maybe you have. Can you imagine what it would be like to lose 19 times in a row to the same person over a 15-year stretch?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Gosh, I never thought about it like that. She keeps coming out and keeps fighting and keeps finding different ways to stay in the match. So yeah...

Q. You working on anything new in terms of overhead lobs, finesse shots, slices, anything?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been working on a lot of new things. I don't really talk about what I've been working on so much. I definitely have been working on a lot of new stuff to incorporate in my game.

Q. Venus earlier talked about Althea Gibson, how she went through an impossible situation so she didn't have to go through it. She said she couldn't imagine what kind of line calls Althea probably got through her career. Can you imagine what Althea went through in the '50s when things were really different?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, no, I can't. It's a different age and a different time. I read her book. I read her having to sleep in cars because they wouldn't allow her to be in the hotels. Even finding doubles partners was difficult for her. It's just different times.

It's obviously hard to imagine being in that position. But it's also really important to be thankful and to know what she went through, to understand that's why that statue is so important so others that are younger and, like I said, they can know what she went through.

No matter what color you are, you can definitely learn a lot about her story, the opportunities that she helped bring to tennis.

Q. Do you think Alice Marble, who wrote an incredible letter backing Althea, the British player Angela Buxton, her doubles partner, so many deserve credit, but those two helped a little bit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think they obviously helped a lot. I actually know Angela. She was a pioneer in her own right, to stand up and say, This isn't right. Just because you look different, doesn't mean you are different.

We're going through a lot of that now in general, as well. But I feel like we need people to fight for us, whether it is for equality, whether it is for racism.

We have to have people of all sorts to join the conversation and to be behind it or else change necessarily won't come as fast as we would need it to.

Q. How is your back? What was your preparation after Cincinnati?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, back feels good. I thought I could finagle and play in Cincy. Last-minute decision that I definitely couldn't. I got some more training in, yeah.

Q. This was your 22nd meeting against Sharapova. Although you're 20-2 against her, many have coined this as a rivalry. Do you consider her a rival? If not, do you think you have any rivals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know what the meaning of 'rivalry' is. I feel everyone I play is a rival. Whether I'm 20-2 or 0-1, it's always interesting matches.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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