September 8, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.
Q. You weren't able to bring your level up, except for a few games there in the second set, after 4-All?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. It was a bit tough out there. I was fighting the wind, fighting myself because I was making too many errors, and I was fighting Venus. Actually, too many fights going on. I should have reduced it a bit.
Q. You looked really strong coming out of the box, running her side to side, coming to the net. Was there a particular strategy you had?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my whole strategy nowadays is to come to the net anyway. Whether I want to or not, I try to come on in. Yeah, it was. I've been working on that in general.
Q. Talk about the second set a little more. You got yourself back in there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was able to get myself back in it a bit. It was like I was struggling so much with making errors. I don't know, I couldn't seem to stop the errors from coming. I was too far behind the baseline, I think. I don't know, it was just -- it was weird. It was a bit windy. I don't know.
Q. Did you get a little embarrassed when Venus was talking in front of the crowd afterwards, when she was talking about how you want to protect your little sister? You said, "Stop it."
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because I'm really emotional, so... I mean, it was just so deep, and she was so sincere, and that really touches one. I'm a really emotional person, so it was really making me pretty emotional there.
Q. You didn't feel like you wanted to get really emotional in front of 23,000 people?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not today (laughter). Maybe next time.
Q. Has it gotten easier playing her in psychological terms? I know her game is no easier, but psychologically has it become easier to play against her or is it the same?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely become a lot easier for me. I think after the first time, it was easier. Overall, it's definitely easy. I really have no problem any more.
Q. Did you practice together this morning? Did you have breakfast together?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, we practiced together. We didn't have breakfast. We usually -- we practice at 10. We didn't want to wake up. We left around 9, so it was too early to get up to get breakfast. But, yeah.
Q. Did you spend the whole day together or did you separate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, pretty much. I took a nap. I mean, we didn't nap in the same bed, if that's what you're getting at (smiling).
Q. Can you enjoy any of this, any of what happened today, even though it was a disappointing loss?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I would have been disappointed, but I've grown as a competitor more than anything. In that aspect, I've grown a lot. I've realized that you take them as they come. I didn't take my chances. I didn't get the moment. So it's all for Venus right now. There's always the next time, especially in sports. There's always a next year. It's not like it's, you know, football where there's just Super Bowl one time type thing. There's next year, and next week actually I'm playing a match.
Q. This match almost certainly drew more stars and celebrities than any other tennis match in history. What does that mean to you, that you and your sister attracted so many celebrities, and were you aware when your friends' box cracked up when Puff Daddy came in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I don't know. I guess they always like to watch entertainment. They always like sports. It just so happened that this is one of the times they wanted to come out. Hey, I wouldn't have missed it either if I knew something so historical was going to happen. I definitely would have tried to make it myself. So I guess a lot of people want to watch us. For me personally, it's really exciting because some of these guys are really superstars. I didn't really think that they would want to watch little me play tennis. But I guess we're really exciting, and I'm flattered.
Q. With four of the last six majors titles, is your sister now clearly a cut above the rest of the women's field, in your opinion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, winning four out of the last six, I guess you could say she is. I don't know. I think she's beaten everyone.
Q. Have you spoken to your father since the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I've only been off the court for about 40 minutes now. I haven't really had an opportunity.
Q. What did he say to you this morning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: He just told us to go out there and compete and have fun. One of us is going to win, and obviously one of us were going to lose. Just to have fun with it. This is history. Just enjoy it.
Q. What did Venus say to you at the net?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She said she didn't feel like she really won because she always wanted to, you know, kind of protect me. I told her, "Well, you won. Take it. You know, it's your win. It's your victory. If I would have won, I won. You won, you need it. It's yours. Don't feel that way because, honestly, there's not enough time in one's life. Time happens so fast." I just told her, you know, "It's yours. You won it."
Q. You both are at the top of the power game. It was just amazing how much power both of you had out there. I wonder how you rank Venus' groundstrokes to Jennifer Capriati because it looked like she was so powerful that you were leaning back sometimes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Venus actually has taken a lot of power off her ball, and she's actually making less mistakes, using more tactics in her game. So power-wise, I think she's definitely taken a lot off. She tried something different this whole tournament, and I think it worked. Definitely when she wants to, she can hit it hard. But as for me backing up, that's just I didn't move forward.
Q. When you go into a match, do you have a strategy that you form for whatever opponent it is? If so, do you form that strategy with Venus or your father or someone? Were you able to do that today, for this match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I always have a strategy. But usually when I go out there, I go out there to play my game. It doesn't matter who you play, you're going to have to play your game anyway. I don't get involved in too much scouting out what this girl does, what this one does. It can become too much. I know a lot of people get involved in that. For me, I just go out there. I know the weaknesses usually, and then I'll play like that. I usually develop a strategy on some things that I want to try to work on throughout the match. But it's not a whole technical thing, because it can get hectic sometimes.
Q. Can you talk about your unforced errors. You had 39 in two sets.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. It's a consistent problem for you sometimes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think a lot of those errors came because for me it was a bit difficult for me to play in the wind. It's always a bit difficult. Especially on the return, I was really disappointed at one point because I just couldn't get them. There was like a 73 miles an hour one in particular, and I just couldn't get it. When I went to hit it, it was pretty disappointing, the wind would come up. You know, I've really cut back on my errors, in general. It was a weird atmosphere out there today.
Q. How do you feel with the support from the crowd? Did you feel it was the same for both of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was the same for both of us. I think a lot of people wanted Venus to win. I think maybe the older sisters and older brothers wanted Venus to win. The younger sisters and younger brothers wanted me to win. I think it was even.
Q. You talked about Venus taking the pace off the ball, play smart. Do you think she played a little bit smarter of a match tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe, yeah, sure, she did. Obviously she should have because if it's windy, you don't want to start pounding balls away.
Q. You talked about the wind. Both of you have practiced in the same places. Venus always says, "I'm used to the wind, I play well with the wind."
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because in the Ericsson and The Open, it's weird, she always plays in the wind. I always play when it's not windy. It's kind of weird how it works out.
Q. Is there any time when you play each other, particularly tonight, when you're not conscious that it's your sister on the other side of the net? Is there any time when it's just an opponent, or are you always conscious it is your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, no. You think of it just as a competitor. You're out there to compete. Believe it or not, it's the final of the US Open. There's a lot of things at stake, a lot of goals that I'm trying to reach this year. Honestly, you don't really look at it as playing your sister - maybe in the beginning. After a while , but not after a minute, you just get over it.
Q. What do you think you need to do to move your game to a higher level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think my game, out of a 10 right now, my potential, I'd say I'm about a 4 or 5. I have a lot of room for improvement. You guys, you just haven't seen anything yet.
Q. Do you have any idea how you're going to celebrate the victory for the Williams family?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm really tired. I really spent a lot of mental work this whole two weeks because I really wanted to win, obviously. It's a Grand Slam. It's the final one of the year. I haven't been doing well lately - well, for me. I'm an insatiable type of person. I haven't been doing well for me in Grand Slams. I've been using a lot of mental work in my mind. I think I'm just going to relax.
Q. Despite the fatigue, despite the loss, still is there a real sweetness to this year's US Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, obviously there is. It's nice, that history. We've been really blessed, like she said, by God. We just really have our parents to thank for it. There's nothing to be bitter about, honestly. There's nothing I can do about it. It would feel worse anyway if I was bitter. So I'm happy. I've moved on. I have a tournament next week. I'm going to win that tournament.
Q. Obviously the way things are going, there's going to come a time when you're going to be 1 or 2 in the world. When that time comes, you could be playing a lot more Grand Slam finals against each other. Do you imagine that it will become easier to block out and just be very competitive? Do you think you'll reach the stage where you're just playing somebody who is not your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. It's really not difficult now. Actually, I have zero difficulty in that. I have no problem with it. I'm sure she doesn't. Maybe after the matches, a lot of emotional ties involved. But during, you just -- you're out there to compete. We both want to win. We both worked a long 15 years for this. Sisters are rivals. A lot of people in our family fight. Not our family, but just a lot of people in families fight. I guess our fighting is done on the court only because we never fight.
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