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September 2, 2000

Serena Williams

Flushing Meadows, New York

MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.

Q. Was this the toughest so far?

SERENA WILLIAMS: So far, yes. It was good. I had a tough match. At first I thought I would want an easy match every round. After Wimbledon, I realized that I don't need that. I need a tough match here and there. It was good that I played her today. I feel that I played a little better than I did in my first two rounds.

Q. Any thoughts on your next match against Dokic?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't played her before. Obviously I've seen her play a lot. It should be a good match. I've always wanted to play her. I'm finally glad I get a chance.

Q. I think you would agree that your sister is considered the favorite right now.


Q. I think so. I think most people would consider her the favorite right now, the way she's playing. Do you feel that your game is up with hers right now? I know you guys are pretty consistently beating each other. Are you on par with her right now, do you think?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Right now, my game can compete with anyone. It doesn't matter who I play. When I'm on, I can compete with the best, anyone.

Q. Are you on?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm definitely playing a lot better. So, yeah, for sure.

Q. What has gone through your mind as you've seen what Jelena has had to deal with with the episodes with her dad?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously, she's a very strong girl. I can only applaud her for that. She never says anything negative about anything. She doesn't even really talk about it. That's great. She's very strong. That's really a good sign.

Q. You're the defending champion. How would you assess your performance compared to last year's?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I'm definitely a better player. Last year I don't see how I really won, to be quite honest, compared to how I am now. I wasn't that consistent. My whole play, I made a lot of errors every day. Now, overall, I'm just a better player. The Serena of today could definitely beat the Serena of last year, although it would be a tough match, because any Serena is hard to beat on any given day (smiling).

Q. There's still talk about a McEnroe-Williams sisters match. Are you getting tired of that? Are you looking forward to the possibility of that? Bobby Riggs - Billy Jean King rematch for the year 2000?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I'm really not thinking about that right now. I have a plan to defend here. I'm trying to do well, trying to get my game back together. I was off a little while with my foot. I hear these things, but I really don't think too much about them.

Q. Let's go back to this Serena of today versus Serena of a year ago. If you had to give Serena of today one tip of how to beat Serena last year, what would that be?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Keep the ball in play.

Q. Because the Serena a year ago --?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I would go through matches. Even the final, I had like 51 unforced errors. That's absurd. I can't believe that. I don't do that anymore. The beginning of the year, I was still doing that. I really cut that out. I really cut that Serena out of me. Just get the ball in play.

Q. Do you feel sorry for Jelena Dokic because of what she's gone through here and Wimbledon, with the father creating headlines with some pretty negative stuff?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean --. Excuse me, I'm not going to say "I mean" anymore. Well, like I said, she's a very strong person the way she deals with it. She doesn't really talk about it. She always keeps her head up. She supports her dad, her father. I really appreciate that because my parents have always brought me up to be very strong with the family. Family, it means everything to us. Apparently it means a lot to her also because no matter what he does, she's always by his side. That's really important. I really appreciate that.

Q. What would it mean to face your sister in the final?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, obviously that would be great. It would be an opportunity that would just be magnificent. It's what we've wanted for our whole careers. I have four more matches to go. I really look forward to that moment. But I have a couple milestones in the way, a couple roadblocks. I have to get by those first.

Q. In some junior tournaments, they have a rule where if members of the same family are in the tournament, they're put in opposite sides of the draw so family members would not have to play each other. Someone suggested that should be done at the pro level. What are your thoughts on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it should be done, I guess, because I'm in the situation. Obviously I'm pro, I'm for that. The professionals are different from the juniors. If I really want to be on the opposite side of the draw every time, we have to see that we're 1 and 2, then forever we'll be on opposite sides of the draw. It is kind of stressful every time, I'm looking, praying. To be honest, that's my own double-fault (sic) that I haven't taken the top spot, at least 1 and 2, or 3 and 4, so we're always on opposite sides.

Q. How is it like at the Williams household? Is it playful? Do you ever look at each other and say, "I can't wait to get you on the court"? Is it fun or is it all competition?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Competitive all the time, "I want you right now." (Laughter). "Good night, Venus, I'll see you tomorrow on the court." No, we're not like that. We don't think about tennis 24 hours a day. Tennis only lasts for so long. There's so much more beyond tennis. We're just able to see that. We're just having fun in what we do right now. We've worked so hard for so long. We want to have fun. Venus and I, when we're off the court, we're really not tennis oriented, although our dolls are.

Q. Do you compete at other things with Venus?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, actually we do. There's a great competition going on right now with autograph signing. We have -- I think we did something, then wanted to sign like 50 or 60, say 100 autographs. We're in a race. I won that one. Then the next time we were signing of our doll cases. Unfortunately, the lady couldn't pass me the box in time, or else I would have won. We're tied at 1-All.

Q. How legible is your signature?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It has to be very legible. You can't have an S and squiggles. It has to be legible. That's basically the only thing we're competitive in.

Q. I'd like to ask you a question about junior tennis. Do you think by not playing the junior tennis circuit, that it enhanced your play in the pro circuit? Do you think if you had played the junior tennis circuit, would it have been an obstacle, a deterrent for your success?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone has a different heart. Everyone has a different body. Everyone does different things. I think for Venus and I, we just tried a different road, and it worked for us. I can't tell you whether if I would have played junior tennis or not, it would have been different one way or the other because I didn't play, so I really am not able to distinguish whether it would have been. But I think at some point I might have been slightly jaded due to the fact that I would have traveled to France, I would have been to Australia, I would have been to England, I would have been here. By the time I come to the professionals myself, I get bored easily, I would have been slightly jaded.

Q. Are there any other parts of your fitness regime, perhaps do you do Yoga?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've always wanted to get into a Yoga class, but only for the stretching, not for the spiritual part. I haven't had time. My mom and I both want to sign up for a Yoga class. It kind of helps you with your breathing and relaxes. I'm really interested in that.

Q. Has Venus done that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, she's really not too much interested in that (laughter).

Q. What gives you the most joy about being a tennis player?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Holding up a trophy at the end of a tournament. It's the best. For me it's a great feeling. I really -- I don't know. I'm really competitive. I like to win a lot. When I'm able to hold up that trophy, it's a great feeling for me.

Q. Was that the best trophy to hold up last year's Open?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously, yes, it was. Really, when I can just get any trophy. Obviously I would want to hold up a Grand Slam trophy.

Q. Are you enjoying this?

SERENA WILLIAMS: This tournament?

Q. The ride to the top.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. It's been a little bumpy, but it's okay.

Q. This competition has a little more sentimental value than all the others.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, it does, for sure.

Q. Will the beads ever come back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Who knows? Stay tuned.

End of FastScripts....

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