February 14, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
S. WILLIAMS/A. Sabalenka
6-4, 2-6, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How important is it for you to get through a tough match like that at this part of the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was obviously real important because I didn't want to be out of the tournament, so it felt good to kind of clutch that in the end and get through that.
Q. Eight doubles, and on opponent that had no Plan B, unsubtle power. How did you stay calm and pull it out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said on the court, I just felt like even games that I lost, I was so close to winning. Not all games, but probably most of those games. I just needed to play better on the big points. I knew that I could. I still hadn't reached my peak. I was like, Okay, Serena, you got this, just keep going.
Q. Did you have any injuries from the fall?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't roll my ankle, so that was good. Yeah, I think it was just dramatic, me being dramatic (smiling).
Q. With the noise in the stadium, it's so different. How do you compare that to a Davenport or a Clijsters? The common link is you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I don't know anyone that hit harder than Lindsay, to be honest. She was the most power player I think I've ever played. So it was good. It was definitely a lot of power. I think, if anything, it was definitely power, but I'm used to it in practice. I know how to get them. I was okay with it really. If she wants to play power, let's go.
Q. Do you feel like your game has changed in that time to be able to counter that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I think I was able to handle it a lot better than I have in the past. At least I hope so. But it was fine. I was okay with her hitting hard or slow, whatever.
Q. You spoke on the court about the business you had to attend to yesterday.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes (laughter).
Q. The distractions you have between your business and Olympia allows you to focus when you are here, you're not thinking about tennis all the time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think about it. Tennis is a lot less stressful. I don't have to manage a team. I do manage a team actually, but it's different. It's way more feedback, even though I am the CEO of my tennis team (smiling). It's definitely different.
I think a part of me loves being on the court because it's free-flowing. It's not like I have to kind of just manage and make sure everyone is able to perform. But that's what I do. I have a second career, and it's fun. Just that one of our main players, our employees, had an emergency. I'm like, Well, that's what you got to do. You got to step it up when you got to step it up.
Q. What hour were you on the phone?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was smart about that. I scheduled a call directly after my practice. I was like, Okay, I can do it early and still have the rest of the day to relax. And it was during Olympia's nap, so it was perfect.
Q. Looking ahead, it's Simona or Iga. Your thoughts on each one of those?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never played Iga obviously. At this point I'm ready for either player. It's quarterfinal of a Grand Slam. I've been here more times than I could even count. That's the right attitude for me to have. I'll be ready for either player.
Q. What do you think of this recent trend of athletes investing back in women's sport? What message do you hope it sends to young athletes starting out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel like women's soccer is one of the most exciting sports ever. It's super exciting to watch. To support them and to bring a major league into the United States is definitely something that's super important. I know from hand how I've benefited from playing on the WTA Tour. These athletes are so good at what they do, they're so exciting and so amazing. It's really awesome to be a part of supporting other women athletes.
Q. There was one point in the match you were facing a double breakpoint. I looked at your box. Venus, who is as quiet as can be, went like this. Does it go both ways? Can you almost telepathically give each other energy, positivity?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's really one of the only voices I hear. I don't know if I zone out and she's the only one I hear. I know when I hear her voice, it just makes me calm and confident. Yeah, I think there's something about it that just makes me feel really good.
Q. The match before yours was fantastic as well. Did you take any of that in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I watched a little of the first set, a little of the second. I was getting ready by the time they got into the third.
Q. The first three-setters of women's match this year on RLA. As the tournament turns the corner, do you feel people have upped their games when they can see the trophy in sight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the later stages of the tournament you're playing players that have been this far and that want to take it a step further. Generally you're playing players that are more experienced.
Q. When you tripped or stumbled and fell, was there a moment that you were concerned about having hurt yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, my first thought was, Not another ankle sprain in Australia. But I knew immediately that it wasn't. Then I was more embarrassed than anything. I was like, Oh, my goodness.
I don't like falling. I don't think it's -- I don't like falling. But I was fine. I mean, once I realized I didn't twist my ankle like at all, I was like, Okay, I'm good, let me just get up.
Q. In the third set, you were up 4-1. When it gets to 4-All, what is your mindset there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Are you kidding me? Hold serve. Why didn't you hold serve? Just hold serve. That was basically my mindset. All I had to do was hold serve, and I didn't.
Q. In this part of your tennis journey, what inspires you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I like my job. I like what I do. It's pretty special I get to come out and still get to do it. I don't think I need any other inspiration behind that, so...
Q. There was another crazy point where you retrieved a ton of balls, she missed an overhead. Hearing you had issues with your Achilles till January, I was surprised to see how well you're moving. How has that been in terms of your movement? Seems like it's going very well.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've worked really hard on my movement. Yeah, I like retrieving balls. I mean, obviously I like to be on the offense, but I can play defense really well, as well.
I do get a lot of balls back when I need to. Yeah, I didn't think about my Achilles. It's so good to not think about it. Oh, my goodness. It's been a problem actually since 2018, so...
I just never want that problem again. It feels really good to just play and to run, to not feel that. It's a great relief.
Q. How would you describe the depth of the women's tour and the draw that you're facing right now as an example of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's great depth again. I think it's been a lot of players that really could win the title since the beginning of the draw. I think there's so many players that can come out and have won Grand Slams and can keep winning.
It's good. It's good to see. It's good to see that I'm in that mix, too.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports