August 31, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.
Q. You're in a familiar position, winning three quick matches, at a Grand Slam, playing well. How do you feel?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling pretty good now. I'm definitely almost in the form that I want to be. Was a little bit windy today. Other than that, I'm feeling really good.
Q. You've discussed this at other times during the Slams this year. Would it have been nicer for you to get a tougher match early on, or are you happy to get off the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I had a tough match mentally I guess in the first round, so that's good. But, no, I wouldn't want a tougher match because , obviously, I have a few tough matches ahead of me. I'd rather keep them on the down before they get a little too tough.
Q. Talk about playing Henin. That's a good possibility for you in the next round. You haven't played her before.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I've never played her before, but Venus has played her several times. I'm definitely going to ask Venus. We're going to have a lot of discussion on what I need to do. You know, I'm playing good. Really doesn't matter who you play in the end, in the end you're going to have to play everyone. You have to compete. That's what I'm here for.
Q. Did you see Henin in the finals at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I was sick, so I went home. And I can't watch Venus on TV. I get too nervous. I can only watch in person.
Q. Periodically the question of rivalries comes up, partly because Martina and Chris set such a high standard for rivalries, perhaps the definitive one in any sport. Do you think the women's game needs them? Is there any chance of one developing? If so, with whom?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think right now there are plenty of rivalries out there. It's not just one. I guess if you just have one rivalry, it will be really major. I think when I'm playing Venus, that's huge, or when I'm playing Martina or Lindsay, it's really big. Even Jennifer, it's really, really big. I think the women's game right now has enough personality, enough everything, so we're getting a lot of attention. I don't think we can get more attention than maybe what we have now because there's plenty of rivalries out there.
Q. Some people have made it sound as if the rivalries were between the Williams sisters --
SERENA WILLIAMS: -- and the world (smiling).
Q. Can you comment on that? Is that valid?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think maybe, because -- I don't know. I don't know. I can't really comment on that. We're -- I don't know. You'll have to ask the rest of the girls if they feel like it's them against us. I'm just playing an opponent as they come.
Q. Can you potentially have a rivalry with Venus, given the fact that she's your sister, blood relation? Could you see yourself possibly having a Martina-Chrissy type thing, or is that ruled out by the fact you're blood relations?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I think we definitely have a rivalry, we definitely could have one. But our rivalry stays on the tennis court. Once we shake hands and leave the court, you know, it's pretty much over with. But I think definitely -- we definitely could and do have a nice one that could really get the sparks going.
Q. The Justine match, that is a step-up match for you? How important is that for your year, to be able to beat a player like that and advance to the second week?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You guys are talking like I'm a major underdog here.
Q. No, I'm not.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Am I an underdog? I like being the underdog.
Q. She's a good player. She's had good results this year.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's great, doing great, had great results. I have, too. It's just the Round of 16. I'm going to take it as a match and move on.
Q. Does it motivate you to play kind of a new player who's flashy, who is good, who you know a lot of people are going to be watching you play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, that's definitely a motivation because I know I can't go out there and make too many errors and make too many mistakes against her because she's playing good tennis. I know what I have to do. I have to make sure I'm ready more than anything. Most of all, it's going to be a fun match for the crowd because they get nice, good competition early on.
Q. Can you go back a few years and tell me about your experiences at the Driftwood Academy and how it made you into the person you are now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, yeah. Before I went to Driftwood, I was home-schooled for a few years. I was really shy. I'm still really shy. I mean, I didn't talk to anyone. I was really introverted. I wasn't loquacious at all. I went to Driftwood. For the first year, I really didn't talk. After that, the second and third year, I really got into it, I really talked. Most of all, I remember the head teacher, Sandra McMannis (phonetic). She had a wonderful vocabulary and it really inspired me for life, so I try to use -- I'm reading a book now that's called -- I don't know the name of it, but it's a book with vocabulary words from A to Z. I get three a day.
Q. What are your three today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't gotten them today yet. The other day I have pejorative. What else was it? Narcissism. There was another one. Nihilism. There we go.
Q. The reason I'm asking is you probably followed in the New York papers this big controversy with the little league player, his age, the fact he never went to school. Are you aware of this? If you are, I think you're in a unique position to comment given you're at the top of your game and you also have a high school education. Can you meld the two together?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know anything about the story. I really can't make any comments about the story. Me, as a person, I'm education oriented and family. That's what I believe in most, is having a good relationship with God, having a good relationship with your family and having a good education. I think in sports, you can get in an accident and your career is over with. Car accidents happen every day. That's why I decided to go to school. That's why I go to school in the fall. I'm not going this fall, but that's why I went for a few years. That's just me. Everyone has a different choice. Everyone has their own heart that's separate from the rest. Everyone is doing their own thing. I can't make a decision for anyone else. I don't want to either.
Q. What are you reading? A dictionary?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's not a dictionary. It's Word Smart. That's the name of the book. Word Smart 3rd Edition. I haven't gotten mine for today.
Q. Are you a nihilistic player, destroy everybody?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Destroy, yeah. Well, it depends. I try to be very nihilistic when I play.
Q. Is Venus also doing this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. See, that's the thing. I'm always around Venus, my older sister. They're just really so smart. It's like I figured since I was last, the brains were left out by then (laughter).
Q. When you go back, I know you visited Sandra this spring.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Do you use those words on her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I haven't been able to use them. You're in a conversation. It kind of looks crazy if you're trying to use these big words. I learned a word for that, but I just lost it. It starts with a G. I could have used it (laughter). I don't know, but no. I really always have admired her vocabulary.
Q. Today you played in a day session. You already played a lot of matches in the night session. Which one do you prefer and why?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn't matter. I used to not like night matches, but now I love night matches. I always love day matches because you can get it over, slam, bam, thank you, ma'am (laughter).
Q. Why don't you like night matches before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because I always have to be so focused for the whole day. Now I like it because I get to rest for the whole day, just be very lackadaisical, not do anything.
Q. Given your Slam results this year, do you have a different mental approach at The Open than you did at Wimbledon, Roland Garros or Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I have a goal here at The Open. I'm going to do everything possible to reach the goal.
Q. Are you taking a little bit of pressure off yourself, trying to think differently so you don't get tense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely am. Not only that, I realized a couple things. Thinking a lot different mentally.
Q. More positive or what?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely thinking more positive and just knowing instead of just believing. There's a difference between knowing and believing. Now I know instead of believe.
Q. If you or your sister win here, what would it mean to you and your family to have a Williams winning three in a row?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It would definitely mean a lot. We'd get a monopoly on the US Open. We're trying to do that. That's what we're going for. We're going to do anything in our means to make it happen. If not, there's always a next year.
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