September 7, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can you serve much better than you did out there today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My percentage was high out there today on my serve. I didn't hit really any big ones. I just took some pace off and got it in. I tried to do that in my quarterfinal match also. But I haven't seen my service percentage. What was it, 82%?
Q. 100% in the second set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean?
Q. 100% in the second set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't hit a second serve in the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You're kidding. No, I can't serve any better than that (laughter). Oh, my gosh.
Q. That's kind of high.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really have been working on that. I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams that it would have been 100%. Oh, my.
Q. You were obviously feeling great out there. What did it feel like on the court as you were going through the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just felt that I needed the win. Not only did I want it, but I also needed it. I'm pretty low ranked. With someone with my name to be No. 10 is pretty absurd. I felt I didn't really like it in that position that I was in.
Q. When did you realize she wouldn't come back, she wouldn't step up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: When the match was over and we were shaking hands. I never doubt anyone anymore because I've played a lot of people and they've come back. A lot of people played me and they've come back. It's never over until you're walking off the court. That's how I like to think of it.
Q. Still, were you surprised that she didn't find any means to tactically challenge you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She tried. She tried to come to the net. I was just on my toes today. I really wanted the win. I really needed the win. I wanted to win more than anything. When that happens and you have that attitude, then you're going to go out there and you're going to do better.
Q. I know the last two years without a Grand Slam title you've said have been disappointing.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Very.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the emotions you feel as you go through the year and it's not happening?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm feeling good now. I won a Tier I event. Actually, I've won two Tier I's. Right now, I just want to do good. I'm in the finals. I said from the beginning, I just want to win seven matches. So now I just have one left.
Q. I wasn't sure if there was a point where you sort of really felt angry or felt more motivated.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, actually there was a point where I felt very angry. I think I was playing Barbara Schett in Toronto. I think I lost the first set. I was pretty disappointed in my play at that point. I just had to turn things around.
Q. You talked about how you wanted to win seven matches when you're here. Years and years ago when you guys drew up your master plan, you and Venus, that was pretty far away, saying, "We're going to be meeting in finals of Grand Slams." Now that it's this close, depending what happens here, obviously, how odd is that or great is that? What's the feeling, if it happens?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To play each other in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Venus still has a match to win, so I don't know. It will be great history. It's going to happen sooner or later. It will be nice if it happened in 2001. I made it. We'll see.
Q. You wanted to get through seven matches. Do you and Venus do that? Do you say, "We're going to do this, we still have this to accomplish? You won a Grand Slam, I won a Grand Slam." Do you treat it that way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not really. Maybe we should. We just go out and practice, we work hard. If you work hard, things are going to come for you. If you're a slacker, you're just going to get slacking results. We figure if we work hard, things are definitely going to come. Obviously, we do set goals for ourselves. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to reach the goal that I set for myself this year. But, yeah, we just go out and work hard. Good things come to hard workers, like the ants.
Q. Emotionally, is it easier to meet other people in the finals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because obviously I want Venus to do her best. And we've played each other a few times now, several times now. For me, it doesn't matter. It will be good for us, our family and everything. I'm sure TV would love it. Emotionally, it doesn't matter who I play in the end, because in the end we're going to have to compete anyway.
Q. Venus is your sister, you've grown up with her, she's your best pal. How will you get the fighting intensity to go out on the court to try and beat her in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I won't have any problem because this is the US Open. If you ever notice, the winner gets $850,000 (laughter). So I won't have any problem going out there and trying to win.
Q. Did you learn anything in particular from that semifinal match at Wimbledon, how to handle what is a huge situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I learned a lot. I learned a lot in that match. It was a big atmosphere. It was a huge atmosphere. I did take a lot from that match. I was pretty disappointed, but I took a lot from that match.
Q. What kind of things did you take away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Mostly pointers for my game. My game kind of broke down a bit.
Q. How much did that have to do with the fact that you were playing your sister, what you might have to change if, again, you're on this huge stage, atmosphere similar to that of the semifinal at Wimbledon, what can you do differently?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, definitely I just think right now I'm focused, I'm not even that excited anymore. I'm just so focused right now. I really, really want this tournament. I'm basically ready to do anything to get it. So that's why I don't think for me it really matters much. And Venus, she's really focused also. I don't think for her it matters much either.
Q. What do you think you have to prove to the public, given what happened earlier this year at Indian Wells?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't have anything to prove to the public. We know things that happened and what didn't happen. People have their own opinions either way. I've already made myself clear to the public, you know, on that situation. There's really nothing to prove. People are going to believe what they want to believe anyway. But the bottom line is, we're both competitors, we both want to compete, we both want to be No. 1, and we both want to do the best that we can. We're both of age where no one makes decisions for us.
Q. They say you shouldn't offer a drink to an alcoholic. You just mentioned the $850,000 first prize money. If you win this tournament, you've talked about your problems with being a shopaholic, do you think that could be a bit of a problem? How are you going to deal with that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no. Probably the whole check will go, unfortunately, to Uncle Sam.
Q. The whole check?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. My tax return right now is ridiculous.
Q. If Venus wins tonight, will your preparation be any different tonight than it would be normally if you're not playing against each other tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, yeah, because I'm playing Venus, and she has a different style of game than Jennifer. If I'm playing Jennifer, I'm going to have a different plan, different tactic. If I play Venus, I'm going to have a different plan, different tactic. Kind of all depends.
Q. What about coming to the center together, talking tonight? Will that change?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no. Tennis is just a game, and we're entertainers. We entertain the public. People come to see us play and perform. They pay to see us perform and entertain. After that, we go home, and Venus will always be my sister, we're always going to be a family. No matter what, she's always going to be there. We just take tennis as it comes. We play a match. After that, we have to be able to separate, you know, tennis from family life.
Q. You talked about developing the mindset of a champion. What for you is that? What goes through your mind where you say, "I'm getting into that mindset"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean?
Q. You talked about the other day one of the things that Venus talked told us is to have the mindset of a champion, has to be a mental part of your outlook on the game. What is it that goes through your mind that's part of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think in order to think the way a champion thinks, you have to take things as they come. Things don't always go your way. I think in the past I wanted things to go my way too often, but I was able to change that and realize if I was in this situation, what would I do? Things of that nature. I've been able to improve on that. Also I've been able to, this week, close out my matches a bit better. I really don't, you know -- yeah, basically.
Q. You were thanking the crowd afterwards. Have they been especially supportive?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've had a good two weeks here. I've had a lot of support from the crowd. That's always nice to hear, especially, you know, after Indian Wells (laughter). So I always have plenty of support from the crowd. It's nice. It was really nice. So I like it here. I like the New York crowd, for sure.
Q. For those of us who weren't there, how bad did they get at Indian Wells?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, it was a pretty low blow. It was definitely a blow below the belt. It was pretty bad. Even after I won, when I went out to accept the trophy, they booed. But that was okay at that point. I really just did some prayers, and God was able to help me get through it.
Q. Has that followed you all summer or have people warmed up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I think that was just a one-time incident. Who was it, Martin Luther King said, "A lie can't live forever." Everybody forgot about that.
Q. Did you and Venus talk before she went out to face Jennifer? What was the conversation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I talked to her a bit. I just told her to "Take your opportunities, stay calm." Basically some technical things she might want to try.
Q. What did she tell you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus is very quiet, especially before a match. She just takes it all in. I hope she took enough of it in.
Q. Speaking of you being an entertainer, you and your sister seem to have support of more famous entertainers than anybody else: Jamie Fox, Jay-Z?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Really? Really (laughter)?
Q. Came to see you and your sister.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, my God (extended laughter). That's a total shocker. Oh, my. You know, that's good. I don't know what to say. I'm glad I won today. I mean, that kind of stuff gives me a little motivation. "Oh, yeah, Serena, this person is here." 6 "they want me to win."
Q. Is it good you didn't know it during the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, that would have been cool. I'm totally shocked. I didn't know he even watched tennis. It's fun because I find out some of the people that watch us. I'm like, "Wow." It's so fun. It's really weird.
Q. Do you think your forays into things outside of tennis, the business stuff, have given you sort of a wider popularity with other famous people?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. I think so. Venus and I, we're kind of different than all the rest of the athletes. We're different. We like to do things different. We have a different style. We're into fashion. We're into just a lot of different things. Cool. I'll have to tell my sister.
Q. How often do you and Venus get together when nobody is around, play a match, maybe pretend it's the finals of a Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We don't do that, no.
Q. Not at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You mean just for practice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus and I, we don't, no. If anything, we play each other left-hand. We really go at it. Honestly, out of the tournaments, we like to practice, but we don't go that extra five miles to get to the practice. If we finish practicing, we're finished. Once it's 3:00, I don't care if I'm in the middle of a stroke (laughter). No, I'm just kidding.
Q. You talked about being of age, making your own decisions. Did you find that to be a very strengthening thing when you did that? Was it difficult to make the transition from daddy and mommy's little girl to an independent woman?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because my dad has always made Venus and I call our own shots. Like he always made us get our schedule, our times, our courts and schedule things that we wanted. Like even now, he makes us schedule our own tournaments. He never tells us what to play. He always asks, "So what are you playing?" I have to tell him usually when I'm playing. I think by doing that when we were younger, it's helped us to be more individuals. I had a problem individualizing myself from Venus because I was so close to her. But other than that, yeah, my dad and my mom always made us make our own decisions.
Q. If you had children who played, would that be your model?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure, because they're great parents. Not only did they raise two champions, but we're good girls. We have high morals. We live a good life. We live a nice role model, spiritual side.
Q. If Jennifer gets through, you've had some tough go-arounds with her. What do you have to do to win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm going to have to play very well. For anyone to be in the final of a Grand Slam, I don't care who you play, you have to be ready. Jennifer is playing great tennis. I'm going to have to make sure I'm ready because I've had a couple go-arounds, like you said, with her. You know, I'm ready.
Q. Anything can you tell us about strokes or tactics?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Of course not. Give myself away.
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