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May 19, 2002

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena, please.

Q. How is the ankle?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's good. It was a weird twist. I think I was more afraid than anything, because an injury pulled me out of the Australian Open.

Q. The question is not original, but where will you place this trophy, next to which one?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well... I don't know. I haven't decided yet. There's a lot of trophies in our home. Most of them are Venus', because she has more titles than I have. But, you know, I got -- well, this is two. So I'm kind of cheating with two here. I can put them around. So I haven't decided quite yet.

Q. First clay court title. Where does this rank amongst all your wins?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, for me, it's pretty high up there because a lot of people insist that I'm not a clay court player, although I am. Although, you know, I kind of grew up on the clay a little bit. So I don't know, makes me feel really good, especially going into Roland Garros. You know, I'm definitely looking forward to doing well there. So... Top 5 (smiling).

Q. What about the difference between this match and the Berlin final with Henin? Why do you think you won today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, today I got a few more first serves in. Berlin I got maybe two, in total. So... And I think, like I said, in Berlin, I just couldn't seem to get the serve right. And still it's not, you know, 100% or even 80%. But let's just say that by the time Roland Garros comes around, I should probably be pretty much 90 and then eventually 100.

Q. What was the most worrying point? That one on 3-all, when you called a timeout after the injury?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I would say so. Because, like I said, it was an injury identical to that that forced me out of the Australian Open. I was thinking, "Gosh, this can't happen to me again." But it didn't. It's just going to be really sore tomorrow. But I had it taped already, so it kind of helped a lot. I think if it wasn't taped, then it might have hurt a bit more, maybe have been a bit more serious.

Q. Congratulations. What was your first contact with a clay court in your life?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I must -- I was about maybe 10 or... I could have been younger. I can't remember. The one I can remember is I was maybe 10 and I just hit on clay from 10 until 16, the whole time.

Q. Was it in California?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it was in Florida, when I moved to Florida.

Q. Not until you moved to Florida. Did you like it at first?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It didn't bother me. My father always said it would be easier on our knees and on our bodies and on our muscles. We would train a lot, we trained a long time. I think it was. Sometimes, you know, obviously I practiced on the hardcourt. But I'd say for the most part in that stretch I did clay.

Q. After such an intense match yesterday, how were you feeling today on court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was feeling pretty good. I just -- I'm an athlete, and I never really get tired. I'm actually - I'm too young to get tired maybe (laughter). Maybe 20 years from now I'll be tired. But right now, there's really no time. The adrenaline of being in a final again and having another opportunity, being so close last week, and then having it again, it just didn't really bother me at all. I was happy to be here.

Q. Can we just clarify, it's a different ankle to the one you hurt in Australia?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it was the same ankle, yeah. It was the same ankle. So that's why I think I was like, "Okay, Serena. Breathe, take it slowly."

Q. Do you have a feeling about injuries stopping sometimes you and your sister? Just injuries? Without them, you could become No. 1 and 2 in the world like your father was dreaming about?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so, no. I just think sometimes freak accidents, like what happened to me earlier this year, and normally. But other than that, no, I don't think so. I think the only thing that's stopping me is - in the past - was not actually being dedicated enough to play as many tournaments. It's difficult to go in week in, week out. You really have to have the mental frame of, you know, "Hey, I'm just going to be here for six weeks on tour." For me, at the time, it was hard. But I lived my life. Now, I'm ready (laughing).

Q. Was there a turning point where you thought, "All right, I've got to get out there and start playing more"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. I just decided this year to play a few more. I was going to play some last year, but, you know... I think it doesn't matter how many tournaments you play. I think if you go out there and win and, you know, do very well, then you don't have to play 20 and 30 tournaments. That would just be killing yourself, because it's hard to go out there every week and get into the finals every week, week in, week out. It's a bit too tough. But I think if you play maybe 14, 15, 16 - let's say 16 - and you're doing well in those tournaments, you don't need to play too much more. But I've been playing maybe 9, 10... (Smiling).

Q. So when you slipped, called the injury timeout, you thought it was the ankle at first? Was that it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it was my ankle. I was running for a ball and I definitely twisted my ankle, the same one I did in Sydney. So ...

Q. Did that get taped then during the injury timeout, too?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I already had it taped, I think, which saved me a lot. Then I got it retaped during the injury timeout. And, you know, it's just gonna -- always when I'm practicing, sometimes I twist my ankles and it hurts really bad for like a minute, and then it stops. But the next day it's sore. But it doesn't really last too long.

Q. When you play, sometimes you shout during the strokes, then suddenly you don't do it anymore. How does it happen? Is it instinctive? Yesterday with Capriati, the second set, you were doing it a lot. Then suddenly you were silent. How does it go?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just think when the match is a little more intense, or if I'm really, really into it, I grunt. But I find that when I don't, I stay a little more calm. So lately I've been trying not to. But sometimes it just comes out naturally because I've been doing it for a long time now. So it's just... I don't know. I can't -- especially when I'm really fighting and I really, really want it. That's, you know, it's just like grunts, it just comes out. (Phone ringing.)

Q. Have you already got a call from your father, or that was it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't know. I haven't got a call from him yet. I talked to him early this morning around 3 o'clock. Because I know he saw the match last week and I wanted to see if he had any pointers.

Q. What did he say?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Just, you know, my dad's really positive. He just told me to make sure I stay positive out there and some other stuff.

Q. You have probably the best record this year of all the players. You won 22 matches, lost only 2. You won a tournament on clay this week. Would you consider yourself a favorite at Roland Garros?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just consider myself as a competitor. And when I go out there, I compete - and from the first round to hopefully the final round. I never try to get that far ahead because normally, you get so excited, "Hey, I did great here," you know? I can't allow that to happen. I'm just staying focused. And hopefully I'll just be as fortunate as I was this week in Roland Garros. That's my goal. And hopefully I'll be able to reach my goal.

Q. What are you going to do next week?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm finally going to take a day off. And as soon as I leave here, I'm immediately going to have some gelato (laughter). Because I haven't been able to have it since I've been here. It's my favorite thing in Italy, to have, is the gelato. So I can't wait. So you guys, come on, no more questions (laughter). You guys got me excited now (laughing). Oh...

Q. Are you leaving for Paris after your gelato?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm moving to Rome (laughing). Oh, man...

Q. Did you practice your Italian today before the speech or not?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Unfortunately, I didn't practice. But I think had I practiced, I would have been able to do a little better. Confidence is a little low on the Italian. I never really practiced, because I don't speak it.

Q. Would you be described as a gelato junkie?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Unfortunately, I'm a gelato junkie and I've already been (laughing)...

Q. Are you trying to quit?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's -- I'm gonna -- after I leave here, I'm gonna have to probably get in that 12-Step Program. I have anxiety attacks. And maybe I'll go to the Betty Crocker Center to get better (laughter).

Q. On a slightly more serious note, have you been concerned at all about this guy who's been pestering you, the guy who was arrested?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, fortunately enough, the tour has been able to put a lot of signs out, a lot of pictures around. And, obviously, security is something very important for all of us. And I think the tour has done a great job in not letting me know -- letting me know, but letting me know, you know, just what I need to know and things like that, and my mom and my management. So I feel safe when I'm traveling. I feel that, you know, hopefully I'll continue to feel this way.

Q. So this win brings you up to No. 3 in the rankings, right behind Venus. Are you looking to jump over Venus? How do you feel about that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I have my goals. I always have my goals set. This year, I have very specific goals of where I want to be at the end of the year. I have no other choice, pretty much. And that's where I'd like to be - hopefully. It depends on where she is, so I can't really say.

End of FastScripts….

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