September 28, 2020
S. WILLIAMS/K. Ahn
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Popularity of tennis, I don't know whether you know this, but your US Open final with Naomi last year was viewed by more people than THE Dominic Thiem/Zverev final this year. Because you're such a big name in tennis across the world, how do you build a brand outside of tennis so that people are aware of you, and two, is there anyone on the tour, man or woman, that you think can build that level of brand when you and Roger and Rafa have retired?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think brand building is really authentic. You really have to be able to be authentically, you, the customer, customers, and people and media, and even friends and family can see something that's not real eventually. So I think that's something that's different.
If you're real and you have something that you're really passionate about, then you want to do it, I think that's the key, No. 1 thing, if you want to build a brand.
Q. How would you grade yourself, characterize your play today? What do you think was the biggest difference for you between that tight first set and the way you played in the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The biggest difference was just confidence. I just need to play with more confidence, like I'm Serena.
So that was it. I just started playing like that. And I love the clay and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.
I do think her level dropped a little bit in the beginning of the first set and I took advantage of that. I think her level was so high in the first set that I just needed to lift my level more than what I did.
Q. Your Achilles, the injury you sustained at the US Open, how did you manage that during the course of a two-week tournament? What particular protocols do you put into place? How was the Achilles today in that match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: A ton of prayer. I'm doing so much for it. I did so much for it at Patrick's academy, like I went straight from New York directly to his academy and started rehabbing it.
Yeah, so one of the reasons I came into press a little bit earlier than normal, because I need to get back and start the protocol all over again. So just kind of just rehab that, laser, ice, just a lot, a lot of stuff on it.
Q. I found it interesting to hear you say confidence was an issue. Serena Williams, with everything you have done, how often does that happen? Could you explain a little more what way that affects you or affected you today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think for me, I have put so much perfectionist into my habits that if it's not perfect, then it's not enough for me. That is something I have been working on.
So I feel like, you know, I was able to get over that in the recent past couple of months, really, just since COVID restarted -- not restarted. Anyway, so I feel like that has been what I needed to just deal with, just understand that my level of greatness is sometimes crazy high and a win is a win.
Q. Obviously there were two different sets today. I was wondering, what was the range of the racquets and string that you had in your bag? What adjustment did you do between the first and second sets? Obviously there was the confidence, the game, but there was adaptations on the racquet you were using?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. They are all strung the same. I was just changing them as the new balls, which is something I never do. My coach wanted me to do that because it's clay and I'm using a lot more spin than I normally did.
Q. When you said what you said to Howard, it reminded me that 'perfect' is the enemy of 'good'. Sounds like...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, right?
Q. We could all learn that. Anyway, I was wondering, is the second serve harder to execute than the first?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, for me I don't think it's harder to execute, if you look at how many double faults I hit typically. You know, if anything, I would say for me sometimes it's easier.
Obviously it depends on the day, but generally -- I don't know, for whatever reason, I'm good with my second serve.
Q. You just used the word 'perfect'. Have you ever played a perfect match? If so, which one? Is it possible?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, that's the thing, right? You don't play that many perfect matches. That's one thing I have been working on in this offseason loosely. But it's just understanding that I have to let go of that -- I don't know the word I'm looking for -- expectation.
That doesn't mean I'm lowering my expectations. It just means I'm having realistic expectations of not winning every point, every game, every shot (smiling).
Yeah, so it sounds crazy, but, you know, that's me and that's what makes me me. I'm me. I'm Serena. At some point I'm always going to have some level of perfection, but I just need to have a more reasonable level so I cannot put so much stress on me mentally.
Q. You had a super tough match with Pironkova in New York. What are your thoughts of playing her again so soon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm okay with it. She's playing well, but I am too. I'm ready to play her. She'll be ready to play me. It will be a long match, she will get a lot of balls back, but so am I. I'll be ready.
Q. We often ask you about Margaret Court and No. 24. Another player here, Rafael Nadal has a chance to equal the Grand Slam record that Roger Federer holds. Just wanted to ask your perspective on what significance that might have in the discussion about greatest men's player and what significance that would hold if Rafa can reach Roger's number of 20? Still trailing you, of course.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. I don't get involved in the greatest talk. You know, the greatest for me is and will always be Jesus, so I'm going to leave it at that.
But I think Rafa, I'm obviously a huge fan of his. I always have been. But it's like you can't compare two people that are equally great. Roger, I mean, he's Roger Federer. I think that says enough (smiling).
So, you know, it's like I don't understand why people want to pit who's this, who's that? They both have spectacular careers that 99% of people can only dream of and they both deserve. Every single credit and every single thing that they get they absolutely deserve it.
I'm a big fan of both, to be honest, so... Yeah.
Q. When you struggle with your second serve, is it typically mental, physical, or technical?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Are you getting me mixed up with someone else? I don't struggle on my second serve (smiling).
Q. On those rare occasions when you have a double fault, let's put it that way -- I know this is very rare, but is there usually an underlying issue you can easily rectify or is it sometimes a mystery?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think for me, I mean, I definitely had a real struggle with second serve last year in the Open, in fact. Serve, period. But I think for me it's definitely more -- what was the last one you said, mental?
Q. Mental, technical, or physical, like maybe just fatigue.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely not fatigue. I think it would be more mental, because my brain is, like, Oh, my God, I never miss this.
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