September 1, 2020
New York, New York, USA
S. WILLIAMS/K. Ahn
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You now have 102 wins at the US Open. I'm talking about player's first wins at the Open. What do you remember way back in 1998, you defeated Nicole Pratt of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 for your first-ever win at the Open.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I remember going lots of three sets with Nicole Pratt, but I do not remember that match at all, yeah. I actually would have never said her of all people that I've played in the first round. No recollection.
Q. Do you kind of remember your first win and what that felt like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Ironically I remember losing to Spirlea that year. I don't remember any other match (laughter). That's so Serena, yeah. Sorry.
Q. For you, at this stage in your career when you've done so much, a coach tells you you still can improve things, do you always readily accept that or do you think how could you be doing this wrong? What is your openness to suggestions, stubbornness?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I believe I'm open to suggestions. I don't think that I am stubborn. I think that's a better question for Patrick because I feel like there might be times where I'm like, Oh, I don't want to do this, I don't want to do that. I know there has been some of those times. For the most part I try to be super open to suggestions.
Q. The men have come up with this tennis players association they're starting. Djokovic has been spearheading it. You've been involved in WTA players council stuff. Do you think a reorganization is necessary or is the WTA structure in terms of the amount of player input they get works?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would be really interested to learn more about what everything is about because I feel like I can't really have an opinion unless I understand more deeply. I'm obviously always Team Djokovic, but at the same time I've been on the WTA Tour for 30 years and I know a lot of stuff that's happening there. I would like to -- yeah, I can't really comment on that.
I do feel he has some very strong opinions that are often true. Yeah, I would just have to wait.
Q. You were publicly supportive of the US Open's efforts to stage this tournament. What do you consider most important about this event taking place?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think what's most important about this event taking place is just the spirit. Sport has been gone for so long, particularly tennis. We missed two Grand Slams. The US Open is the first major tennis event since Australian Open.
The morale can be really low in the world with everything that's going on. Sometimes you just want to take your mind off. People have been doing that for generations through sport.
That's one of the reasons I was so supportive of the US Open. I felt like it was such a good time to get back out there for athletes and for fans to kind of just disconnect and be a fan, and for athletes to do what they do best.
Q. You said mid match you had to get your 'Serena focus' back. Talk about what 'Serena focus' is, how you deal with it, how you got it back.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was referring just in general, not in mid match. I felt like I wanted to be focused from the first point to the last. I feel like I have been focused, but I've been losing matches on literally one point that could swing a match a different way. I've been playing a ton of tight matches.
I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be Serena focused from the first point to the last point no matter what happens.
Q. Before you went out there your former doubles partner and friend Andy Murray scored a wonderful triumph. Talk about him, his grit, strength. What do you admire in your friend?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Usually when you're waiting for a match, someone is down two sets, you root for the person that's ahead so you can get on the court and get off.
I was rooting for Andy the whole time. I really wanted him to win. Gosh, when he was down in the third set, I was like, All right. I was just rooting for him so hard.
I saw him give the racquet to his trainer. There's Andy, he plans on playing five sets here (laughter). I was really happy for him.
I love his grit. I've always loved that, way before we played doubles. I always said he reminds me a lot of myself. I'm just a big fan.
It was really good because I know what it's like to be down, I know what it's like to be injured, I know what it's like to be counted out. I felt like it was a real gutsy win for him and I was really happy.
Q. After all you've achieved in your career, do some of these records still resonate with you? The fact it was the 102nd match win at the Open, breaking the tie you had with Chris Evert. Do those sort of things still mean something to you? You've broken so many records, do they all roll into one after a while?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, in a weird way I feel like every time I come here I'm being told I broke another record. I felt like I had something last year. Maybe it was a tie for Chris Evert.
But it's cool. I don't think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. But I'm in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it's not the time to be focused for me on records when I'm thinking about winning a tournament.
Q. What made her such a tough opponent, particularly early in the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was just getting the rhythm in the early part of the match. First round is always tough for me. I think Kristie, she really strikes the ball really hard. She mixes up a lot. She plays a lot of the different shots. You don't really know what to expect.
I really thought her game was really, really, really good to the point where I had to make sure. I was down a break at one point, so I was really fighting for everything.
Q. What is easiest and what is hardest about the absence of a big-crowd atmosphere?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the easiest is a little less pressure. I think the hardest is making sure you stay pumped. For me it was clearly easy because I'm always overly passionate. I love being passionate. It's what I'm best at.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports