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January 16, 2001

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena, please.

Q. Could I just ask you how much better you think you're playing this year, and in comparison to where you were at this stage last year and how much is that due to playing Sydney last week?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing better this year. I am mentally more sound than I was last year. It helps a lot to play Sydney because I was able to get a few matches under my belt since I hadn't played since October. So that was a good plus for me. I didn't have -- I'm able to get my rhythm back a little more. I didn't have it at all in Sydney. Finally, in the quarterfinals I was getting it back a little bit. I could feel it coming. So each match should go pretty well.

Q. Alan Atwood (phonetic) from The Age. How much interest do you have in tennis history? Do you read about past games? Do you watch videos of former players?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I have a lot of interest in tennis history. I think history is, like if you don't know your history, you're like a leaf floating in the wind and you never know where you can end up. I think learning about your history, the sport that you're playing is most important because you know what happened in the past and how you can -- if not, history will repeat itself. You learn how to rectify things, learn about what people did. I read a couple books, I read this one book that Billie Jean King wrote, I watched some films. Just in life also, even with my culture, I like to learn about my history because, you know, you don't know who you are without it.

Q. What things would you say you've learned from some of those histories? What can you avoid from other mistakes people have made?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've learned a lot about -- I read a lot on Little Mo. I found her very interesting. And also obviously Althea Gibson. I learned a lot of things about her, a lot of things she had to go through. A lot of different things.

Q. After a day like today when both yourself and Venus have played, do you compare notes afterwards or do you talk about anything except tennis?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus and I, our lives aren't 100 percent tennis. We do a lot of different things outside tennis. Usually off the court we don't talk that much about tennis. We do, but not: "So, how's that forehand." I wanted to see what went wrong with her match. I didn't get to see any of it. Actually, I was talking about it with her in the locker room a little bit. So maybe at the most, tournaments, but we usually move on, say what I'm going to do, new attitude that I have, things like that.

Q. Carly King (ph) from Channel 10. What did you think of the outfit Venus wore today? Snappy little number?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't get to see it at all. I asked -- 'cause I was practicing when she first went out on the court. I didn't get to see her try it on before. But I saw it, you know, just hanging up. It's really cute.

Q. Do you guys, like normal sisters, talk a lot about the outfits you're going to wear on court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was expecting her to wear a different outfit than the one she wore today. She pulled a quick one on me. The other one she wore was really cute and I heard this one was really better. A lot of people try to keep up with us, but it's pretty hard. We're the original, the first, the last.

Q. Do you feel as though you're deserving of some of the Reebok deal she got given you're sort of linked together in that way?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We're not linked together. A lot of people always link us together, the Williams Sisters. Actually, it's Venus and Serena Williams or Venus Williams and Serena Williams. But I have two more years left on my contract. You'll see some exciting things in the next two years.

Q. Can we just clarify, your father's not here in Australia. Is that right?


Q. Does he prefer not to travel or what's the situation?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, he prefers to travel but he has some things he has to do. He was going to California to take care of some business so he wasn't able to come. But my mom has always been coaching us since day one as well as my dad. She knows our game better than what we do. A lot of people get confused on that.

Q. How critical is she?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yesterday she was very critical, so... But that helps out a lot really. So that's why I was able to do a little better today because I realized that I wasn't doing so well. And I think you're gonna need that, you're gonna need someone that's going to be behind you, pushing you when you don't want to be pushed.

Q. How much better do you feel like your game has to get for you to be able to win this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think my game's going to get better as the rounds go on naturally, and I think, you know, I think now is not my game, it's just a mental thing. I'm pretty mentally there. I just have to take it one match at a time and not look too far ahead.

Q. Has it been your perception that neither yourself nor Venus really likes to play the other? Is that true, or at the end of the day is she just another opponent you might have to face?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it doesn't really matter. End of the day, she's another opponent. I just prefer to face her, you know, in the Finals, if worse, the semis. But we're both competitors, we have to play each other and we're out here to compete.

Q. You happy with the draw as it transpired?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure. I mean, obviously I would prefer to be on the opposite side of her but, you know what, I should have got my ranking together before I got here, so you know what, hey...

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