August 24, 2020
New York, New York, USA
S. WILLIAMS/A. Rus
7-6, 3-6, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. A tough match. You have been through some real unbelievable brawls these past couple of weeks. Do you feel it's toughening you up? Is there an upside to having had so many close matches?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. At some point it's going to get better. I don't feel like I am doing anything bad. I just think that -- I mean, we scouted her match. She just did not play like that.
It's kind of interesting. So I just hopefully keep going. That's it. Nothing I can do about it.
Q. At this point in your career, are the challenges for you now, what's tougher, mentally or physically, the road ahead?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Physically I feel like I'm incredibly fit. I did hit a wall today in the second set. I was so hot. That never happens.
So I think physically I'm fit. Tennis is mental. You know, it's all mental.
Q. You had a gap in your career between when you won your first Grand Slam when you were 17 and there in New York in '99 and a couple years before you won your second Grand Slam and got on a bigger roll. What do you think it takes as a player who has had some success to sort of regroup once everyone -- do you have more of a target on your back as a slam champ, or what's the challenge of trying to get a second wind at the top in your career? Early in a career, I'm asking about.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just keep grinding, I guess. There were a lot of tough players when I was playing. I was playing with Hingis and Venus and Davenport and Clijsters. It was a lot.
So, I mean, I was going deep in the tournaments, but I wasn't able to actually win. Yeah, I don't know. I'm keeping it to myself (smiling).
Q. Four three-set matches you have played so far this comeback, you don't usually play the week before a Grand Slam, so I'm curious if you're at all not wanting to be exhausting yourself this week, or how do you sort of balance that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm taking it a day at a time. I'm going to see how I feel tomorrow obviously. But I'm ready. I'm excited.
Like I said, I'm actually super fit and I'm super ready. I just -- yeah. I feel like I'm ready for anything. I think the reason I wanted to be super fit was because it is six weeks in a row basically playing tennis every day, so this is a really good opportunity for me to get ready and be super ready for clay, as well.
Q. In Lexington we asked you about playing without fans. You said it made you a little calmer. In this bigger stadium where you were today, in a place where if you were in this kind of a tight match at the US Open, you probably would have heard thousands of people trying to will you to the win. I'm just wondering what your impression was of being out there today in that kind of a tight, lengthy match without any spectators?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't know. I was fine. Now I feel like I have passed that test, and now I can pass the test at the Open, playing Ashe Stadium.
At one point I was pumping my fist and saying, Come on. I had a crowd in my head or something. (Laughter.) It was actually funny to me. I don't know. For me, it was like there was a crowd there.
Q. Since you're playing in Western & Southern Open, New York edition, what are you and your daughter missing the most about not being in Cincinnati this time of year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously the amusement park. It's no secret Cincinnati is one of my favorite tournaments because we go to the amusement park and we have fun and it's so cool.
But I'm happy that we're having it, you know, after this year. It's been really incredible. But, yeah.
Q. If someone asked you for some hints, an athlete in any sport about playing without a crowd, what would you tell them? What would you tell them it was like? What would you tell them something they'd have to think about that they wouldn't expect?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I would just tell them it's a different atmosphere. It's different. I don't know. It feels like I'm back in, like, juniors but at a bigger level in a weird way, because it wasn't that much -- it brings you back to the '80s (laughter). Yeah. Wow, that's a long time ago.
Q. You were just saying that you wanted to get super fit and you have managed to get super fit. When was the last time you felt as fit as you feel right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, obviously probably since before the baby, but I think before the baby I was always super fit.
It wasn't really one thing that people recognized about me, but obviously you can't win a lot of tournaments and Grand Slams and not be fit. Yeah, so probably that.
Q. I wasn't ever a professional like you, but I remember when I was playing tennis and it was terribly hot, they always told me not to wear a black outfit, stay white because the sun is going to grab you more. So I know you like black outfit. You always loved. But maybe, if I can suggest, I wouldn't wear it anymore when it's so hot.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, my opponent had a black outfit on, right? I was looking at her, I'm like, She seems to be fine.
That very rarely happens to me, to be honest. I literally told my coach, That never happened before.
And I never take a break on -- ever. Because I'm always ready. But for whatever reason I think I was sweating so much, like I was pouring, like pouring sweat. It was just like pouring out of my pores.
But I was able to recover and feel better in the third. Yeah, so I'm going to still wear black (smiling).
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