September 2, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You started off kind of slow. After the fourth game, started grunting loud, sort of took over. She only got two or three more games after that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I started out a bit slow out there today. My mom told me to go out there and start out quick, and I just didn't do it, so... But after a while, like in the end, I was really just warming up. I was really just getting in my groove.
Q. After that 5-All game in the first set, she didn't take another game off you. Did you shift to a new gear?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think maybe I did. I just realized that I need -- I got used to her game at that point because I hadn't played her before. Although Venus told me what to do, it was like, you know, when you get to your own rhythm, we have different type of styles of games. When I was in my own rhythm, I'm like, "Oh, okay, here is what I need to do." I was able to pull it in, pull it up, pull it together.
Q. She had you there at the beginning. You were playing cross-court with her a lot. That wasn't working. Going the down, you kind of took over.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah (smiling).
Q. Any more than that? Is that what Venus told you to do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. Venus just told me some points, some weak points that she might have had, some things that I might not want to do when I'm out there. I think she returned my serve very well today. I think she did that very well. But I think I had myself in the beginning by making a few too many errors.
Q. Now that you've played against her, what do you think about her game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she's a great player. She's doing well. She's No. 6 in the world now, I think. She played a good match today. She did her best. I just happened to play a bit better. I know whenever I play her, I'm going to have to make sure I'm ready because you don't get to that spot in the finals of Wimbledon - I haven't even been in the finals of Wimbledon - you don't get there easy. You go out there by working hard. She's definitely doing great.
Q. Anyone who has seen you knows you're young, fun-loving, you have a need to focus on your job in tennis. You're also one of the most prominent young African Americans in our culture. I know you've been asked this many times. Do you feel you have an obligation or a desire to play a leadership role for young African Americans?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think a lot of young African Americans, young black people, definitely look up to myself and Venus, even Marian Jones, a lot of other prominent black athletes out there. I don't feel pressure to be like kind of in a tense situation, be uptight and a little bit nervous, because I think I am a role model, but at the same time I'm not out there doing things that would make -- that I don't want kids seeing me do. I'm not out there doing those type of things. So for me it's easy. For me, I'm just going out there, playing tennis. I know I'm just going to have a good attitude, no matter what happens, I'm going to have fun, I'm going to smile and I'm going to enjoy myself. That's natural for me. So I don't feel pressure. Hopefully kids can learn from me that, you know, if you just live a good life.... I think I've had a strong spiritual background also, and that helped me out a lot. So for me, I don't feel pressure on being a role model or having black kids look up to me.
Q. Obviously in our sport, issues of race keep on coming up.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Naturally, yeah.
Q. Do you have any feeling of wanting to take a proactive role or to comment on these issues when they do come up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I'm just really trying to be me. I'm out here to play tennis. I want to do the best I can do. I want to reach a goal. I want it now. I think that now is the time to do it. Now is the time better than any other time before. If issues come up, obviously I'm going to say something about it because I am black and I can't do anything about that. I have a good joke, but I'm not going to say anything right now (laughter).
Q. Just to be more direct, you're saying that you don't want to comment on the Hewitt/Blake decision or incident? Is that what you're saying?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think he asked that question at all. But what happened to them is them. I'm a lady. I'm in the ladies' side of the draw. You have to ask the men's side for once.
Q. Certainly you have an opinion. Lleyton accused the black lines judge of making numerous bad calls because he's black. What do you think about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really don't know what I think about that. I'm not -- I have no comment (laughter). I have no comment. I'm really trying to stay out of the controversy this two weeks. I'm really a smart-aleck here, so I have no comment (laughter).
Q. Going to the 32 seeds, do you think that offered any protection? Until today, there were very few upsets.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. I think for some people, it does offer protection. Like I said before, in the end, you're going to have to play the player, you're going to have to play and perform. Doesn't matter who I play. I think maybe it's a good idea. Just bring them on. It doesn't really matter to me.
Q. Can you talk about playing Lindsay?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I like playing Lindsay. It's going to be a good match, a rematch of last year's quarterfinal. I think she won (smiling). I'm going to be ready this year. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's going to be a good match for the fans. Either way, an American is definitely going to be in the semifinals. So that's definitely a good thing.
Q. Did you watch any of her match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't get a chance to watch any of it. I have lots of films of her and me. You know, we know each other's game very well. We played each other many, many times. We know each other like our back hands.
Q. You are always very self-confident. Can you say now that Justine lost to the 2001 US Open champion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't say that until Saturday. We've got to wait. You know what, I just -- what is it, four down now? I'm just taking it one match at a time. Four down.
Q. Were you at any moment concerned today or from the beginning on were you very confident?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think right now I have a lot of confidence. But I don't play ahead of myself. I'm taking everything one point at a time. If you get too far ahead of yourself, then things can go crazy.
Q. The form you're in now, how do you feel in terms of how you're playing, how you're progressing? Are you in a good spot right now for yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, right now I'm definitely in a good spot. I think I can do a bit better on my serves, my returns. I haven't hit as many aces as I normally do, which is not good for the Chase Ace Program, because I'm usually the leader - but I'm going to pick it up (laughter). Yeah, so, there's a lot of things I would like to improve on. I'm only 19. I have plenty of time. But I would like to do it before the next hopefully three matches.
Q. You said that you're getting more serious now, that now is different than maybe last year. What is changing for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I realize that this is my job (laughter). This is what I do for a living. After I lost in Manhattan, I was pretty disappointed, because I never lose there, first of all. Second of all, I told my dog Jackie, because I had lost at Wimbledon, you know, I was pretty disappointed. I said, "We can't afford to eat anymore because mommy's not doing well right now." (Laughter). I looked in her eyes. We were both hungry, so... (Laughter).
Q. What did your dog say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's nothing really she could say until mommy started doing a bit better. Ever since then, I've been doing a little better.
Q. You're the No. 10 seed coming in here. Can't feel too good to see that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Doesn't matter to me. I realize now if you look at my name, look at the tournaments next to my name, if I played the amount that the other girls played, I obviously wouldn't be there. That's another thing about being serious, I'm going to definitely work on.
Q. How are you feeling physically?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Immaculate.
Q. Why did you have your ankle wrapped?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had issues with my ankle in the past. I just wrap it for prevention.
Q. It seemed you were overhitting just a little bit during certain portions of the match today.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Time Magazine had a fun line about you which said when you're on, you're unbeatable, but when you're not, the ballboys better wear cups. Do you think that's a good idea?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been one to spray balls. I've been known to hit in the net, but I've never been known to spray balls.
Q. When you're going through the last set like that, what does it feel like out on the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, it just feels like -- playing someone like Justine Henin, she's a good player, she makes good comebacks, she can get on fire any time. I know this. I knew that I can't get mentally -- just have my mind going here and there; I need to stay focused. I never thought, "I'm going to win 6-0." I just thought about this point, this point, this point, and won every one. She is known for comebacks. That's the last thing I wanted at that time.
Q. You haven't gotten beyond a quarterfinal this year at a Slam. How important is the Lindsay match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, every match is very important to me. I'm sure it's very important to her because she made it in the finals last year. I know her, Jennifer and Venus are in the race to be No. 1 right now. I need to go ahead and try to help Venus out a little bit.
Q. What about yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm in that race, too. But right now I'm No. 10, so I just need to play a few more events.
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