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August 27, 2001

Serena Williams


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What happened in the first set? You looked a little lost out there.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was just way off. I made too many errors. I gave it away. And she played a good first set. She played really solid, really consistent. You've just got to give it to her for that.

Q. What did you know about her before you went on the court? Did you get a scouting report on her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Don't know her. Never seen her play. I didn't know what she looked like. But I knew before I went on, someone told me that she was a lefty.

Q. You often sort of have had a bad set, then just change gears, immediately go into the next set. How do you do that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think after a while you just get used to -- I don't know. I don't know. You know, you realize you have to change the level of your game, especially if you had a bad set in the first set, or you're going to be out of the tournament basically. That's the last thing I needed right now.

Q. How concerned are you after one set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: How concerned am I?

Q. How concerned were you after the first set, about your situation?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it just never crossed my mind that I was, you know, going to go out because I'm here to give my best, and I wasn't giving my best. I thought I was. In all reality, if I was, I wouldn't have made so many errors, I would have been more consistent with my serve. It was weird because I've been practicing really good. In practice, I just look like a billion dollars basically. I just knew if I'm going to practice well like that, it's going to eventually come in.

Q. After what happened at Wimbledon, have you changed your dining habits at all, what you eat, being extra careful about what food you have?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm really picky now about the food that I eat, because I have a sensitive stomach. I've had food poisoning a few times just this year alone. I'm real picky about what I eat. I make sure if I go to a restaurant, it's a classy restaurant, food's prepared different.

Q. Where have you eaten?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I haven't really. Benihana's. Other than that, I love Benihana's. I go there. If I could go there every day, I would. Unfortunately, there's not one that I live close by. I know there's one in Fort Lauderdale, but that's like 45, an hour away. I've eaten there twice. Other than that, I just eat at the hotel.

Q. You and your sister graced the cover of Time Magazine this week. I was wondering if you've had a chance to see the magazine, what your reaction is to the article?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just saw it today. I say this a million times, I never read articles, I just look at the pictures. It was a nice picture on the cover. I liked how my hair was a little aerodynamic. It was cool.

Q. In that article, Martina Hingis said, and I'll read you the quote, "Many times, you get sponsors because you and your sister are black and they have had a lot of advantages because they can always say it's racism." What do you think of that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I really wouldn't know what to think of that really. I just heard this quote. I don't know. You'd have to ask her what she meant by that.

Q. She said she meant what she said.


Q. For a long, long time the thought was just the opposite. Zina didn't get any kind of contract until she reached the finals. Sort of a half-baked situation. Do you think for a long time African Americans had trouble getting endorsement contracts? Do you think that has changed?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think in a sport that is a predominantly white sport, I think when athletes -- when people see new faces, like for instance golf with Tiger Woods, maybe if hockey were to have a superstar that was maybe Spanish or maybe black, I think then maybe it would get a few more people to watch a sport. But as for being black and getting more endorsements because I'm black, I wouldn't know anything about that. All I know is I get endorsements because I win and I work hard. I go out there and have a good attitude and I smile. I like tennis. Whether I got endorsements or not, I don't know. All I know is that that's what I can say about it.

Q. In that same article, Martina Navratilova said other female tennis players are afraid to criticize you because you and your family will accuse them of being racist, so you get away with certain behavior that other people don't.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You can go back and read all my transcripts. I personally never said in an article or interview that, "This happened to me because I'm black." I have gone to a store and been treated differently because I was black once. Other than that, no. I mean, you can go back and read all my transcripts. Maybe that was a bit on the fabrication side.

Q. What she said was a fabrication?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, you just read my transcripts and you tell me next time. Do that for me. You guys, you writers, are getting lazy on me. You want me to tell you everything.

Q. You're not reading our stuff.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't read articles because it can ruin you.

Q. We're in the print media. We need customers.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe I'll start reading a few more.

Q. What is it going to take for you to read some?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, maybe when I retire. At the beginning, I was caught up with reading all the articles about myself. It kind of got me a little messed up in the mind. I began to expect too much of myself because I was reading what everyone else thought. I was thinking, "Wow, you know, maybe I need to think this." I just got a little bit crazy. Now I just don't read it. I'm sorry.

Q. If you have read Time Magazine, they were comparing you and Venus to some of the fluffier sports figures around. They said, "It's far better to be filled with arrogance and aloofness and intention than to flash a saccharine Dorothy Hamill-like smile." Could you comment about that attitude?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Dorothy Hamill?

Q. The ice skating champion.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay. You guys are really reading into that. You guys are reading underneath everything. I don't know. Can you repeat the quote?

MODERATOR: What's the point of the question?

Q. The point of the question is about the attitude that you and Venus have brought to tennis, which is a very different attitude than a conventional goody-two-shoes-like attitude. The quote is, "It's far better to be filled with arrogance and aloofness and intention than to smile a saccharine Dorothy Hamill-like smile."

MODERATOR: That quote wasn't directed towards just the Williamses, it was the players in general.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think there's a lot of new attitudes out here. In the beginning, Martina Hingis, everyone just gets different attitudes. You know, it brings a lot of excitement to the sport. Why not? More people are looking at tennis. More people are realizing that tennis is actually a fun sport to play. Tennis, it's really exciting to watch, to watch ladies actually go out there and compete, watch ladies be pretty, watch ladies sweat, do a lot of different things. That's my answer to your question.

Q. I know in theory you want to take each match one at a time. At an event like this, how difficult is it for you to not kind of look a few matches ahead, the match-up maybe with your sister perhaps?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it's not difficult for me at all right now because I'm just focused on my next round, because I really want to do well here and I really can't accept anything less. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to do well this fortnight. I don't want to have any pejorative thoughts getting in my mind. I want to think positive at all times.

Q. You won this tournament once with dark hair. Now you're playing as a blonde. If you win it as a blonde, might you come back as a red head?

SERENA WILLIAMS: What are you talking about? I've always been blonde. This is natural (smiling).

Q. Do you prefer to play at night or day? Does it matter?

SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I used to like to play in the daytime. But now I like to play at night. It doesn't matter. Like today, I kind of wished that I played first match on so I could just have the rest of the day and tomorrow off.

Q. Is there any advantage playing at night? Is it more exciting, more energy?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's the feature match. I don't know. I do well in night matches. I like to play at night now a lot. I get more chance to rest. I don't know. That's it, I guess. Get more opportunity to scout out your next opponent possibly.

Q. No double-faults tonight.


Q. Have you done something with your serve that we haven't perceived yet?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've done a lot with my serve. Used to be a time I would never double-fault. Then this year, just this year, I started double-faulting, like three, and eventually up to ten times in one match, which was never unheard of (sic) for me. I had to go back to the no double-faults.

Q. Have you taken a little bit off the first serve?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've taken a little bit off my first serve. I only hit like up to 113 today. As the rounds go on, I'm obviously going to, you know, crank it up a little bit. Also, I just made up my mind, it's ridiculous just to give it away. I don't like giving it away.

Q. How key are those lack of double-faults to the rest of your game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it helps me know that on a second serve I'm not going to give it away, never a doubt even crosses my mind that I'm going to have to double-fault here. Used to be a time I would think, "Oh, boy, I hope I don't double-fault." So quick, so fast, oh, boy, I did (laughter).

Q. How cool was it having Hillary watch your match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was definitely really exciting. I'm a Clinton fan. That's me.

Q. You'd like to see her in Washington, DC, in a big way?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I would. I think she would do well. She's the woman to do it for sure. I think if one can do it, it's definitely her.

Q. You're a Clinton fan. Both Clintons?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. Naturally I think Bill is a great guy. I met him a couple times. He's just really, you know, a down-to-earth kind of individual. He didn't pretend, he was just himself. I never met Hillary. I met the daughter. I like the family.

Q. You know Hillary won a mixed doubles tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, maybe we can get to play doubles one day.

Q. What about Brandi and Ray Jay (phonetic), did you notice them?

SERENA WILLIAMS: They're good friends of mine. Brandi is a good friend of mine. They just happened to be in town. She was like, "I'll come to the match."

End of FastScripts….

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