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March 12, 2000

Serena Williams


WTA: Questions for Serena.

Q. That "Make a Wish Foundation" on the court, you signed every ball, is very nice.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm sorry. I didn't hear your question.

Q. Was that "Make a Wish Foundation" on the court, you signed every ball, every cap. Very nice. Why did you do it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I really don't sign too many autographs off the court. I'm usually in a hurry, always walking. The fans are here to see the players, get the autographs. I figure while I'm on the court, why not?

Q. Feeling a little better with your game today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I am. I think I'm playing a little better than what I did the other days.

Q. Can you talk about your ace for 5-3, 121?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was so exciting. I'm really getting up there. I couldn't believe it, it was 123.

Q. 123 or 121?

SERENA WILLIAMS: 121. That's tomorrow or whenever I play again (laughter). It was unbelievable. I had a 119 in my first match, second round, I don't know, one day. I'm going to call Venus and say, "121." I'm going to start answering my phone, "121."

Q. That's the fastest?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That's the fastest for me. I'm not that tall, so that's pretty good. I'm definitely catching up. I think hers is like 127 or 129, 127.4, so I'm not that far off.

Q. Kim looked stunned. She kind of stared at the board for a while. Is that the first time you broke 120?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I had 18, 17. Actually, this week is the first time I got up to 119. I've really been working out and trying to get stronger. It's paying off.

Q. Can you put matches like this into your cool book as well as you do people?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what? I don't have a cool match book. Now that you mention it, I'm definitely going to start that. That sounds really exciting. I should have thought of this earlier, like US Open I had a couple cool matches. I'll have to write them down tonight.

Q. Do you think this match belongs in there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no, I don't think so. I don't think I played that well for it to belong in there.

Q. But the 121 ace?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that will be in there. I'll have to mark this day on my calendar. But I'm going to pass that.

Q. You have a nice little run going in the desert.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually in California, in the States. I'm really hard to beat here. I've lost once in a couple of years, yeah.

Q. Why do you think that is? Any reason for that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. You should just pick one place that you're not going to lose that much at. Like Pete picks Wimbledon. He doesn't lose much there. I think I should pick the United States where I won't lose that much here.

Q. You are facing Mary Pierce now. She won?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, I believe I play her next.

Q. How is that going to be? Can you tell us?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I hardly ever get to play her. I played her twice, I think. Yeah, twice. I'm glad I get to play her again because it seems like I play her once every year or every other year. Seems like Venus is always playing her. It should be fun.

Q. Did you win both those matches?


Q. Comfortably?


Q. How come the score was so close? You're the defending champion, Kim is 16, youngest person in the draw, two years younger than you. How did you find a way to beat her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was just playing a little -- I don't know. I've been playing long enough to be able to win. There was no excuse for me to be able to win.

Q. There's only one game separating you from being 5-5 in each set, 6-4, meaning if she wins one more game, you lose one less, you're 5-All both sets.

SERENA WILLIAMS: There's actually only two games from it being 7-6 (laughter).

Q. Your glass is half full.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yours is a quarter.

Q. All in all though, you've got to be happy. But what do you have to work on for tomorrow or the next day?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm just going to work on everything, my groundstrokes, my serves, hopefully come to the net more. I wasn't happy how I didn't come to the net much today. Seems like I couldn't get there for some reason. Hopefully I'll be able to do it a little better.

Q. You played Mary here last year.


Q. What do you remember of that match here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I remember it was a nice match. I can't say both my wins against her were really comfortable, but she played well. She always plays well. You know, she's a person that you can't just look over. She's a good player.

Q. A lot of people think Clijsters is going to be among the next wave of great players. Do you agree with that statement?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, for sure. She's coming up. There's a lot of players coming. Everyone wants to win. I'm sure she's been working hard. She's only 16. She's a very strong young lady. She smiles a lot. She seems happy. She seems very happy off the court. You don't find that too much around the young players nowadays, but she seems really happy and comfortable. I think she'll do well.

Q. Wasn't too long ago you were part of that next wave, 16 playing against somebody 19. It's weird, you're only 18, yet there's a whole wave coming behind you.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, there is. I'm now old (laughter). I'm not young anymore. There's a new crop coming in. I'm about to be picked. The wheat, going down the field, you pick the wheat. Some players have already been picked. Seems like I'm up there.

Q. Does that feel strange? As he mentioned, you're not 19, but now you're old.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I just feel experience. I feel I can get these wins over these younger players. I know what to do here.

Q. How young do you think it's going to go? Do you think we'll see champions younger than we have now? How young do you think it can go?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, probably so, as long as I'm not in the draw. No, these young players are really watching the matches, really playing tough. You know, you can't go out and not be serious anymore or else you find yourself booking your next flight home.

Q. If you're old at 18, what does that make Pierce at 25?

SERENA WILLIAMS: 25. Who knows?

Q. She's in her prime.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she is.

Q. This is a great facility, great stadium, great grounds. If had you to summarize your view of the new stadium and facility here in one or two words, what words would you choose?

SERENA WILLIAMS: About the stadium?

Q. Yes, the new facility here.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would choose it as a very relaxing atmosphere. I think it's a really relaxing place. I like how they have the whole thing set up for the players. Another word I would use is just a beautiful site, beautiful and very relaxing.

Q. How about "cool"? No?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's tough. I told you, it's tough to make it.

Q. If you happen to be upset, will you go right to Key Biscayne or stay?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, because I live in Florida anyway. I'll just go home and practice.

Q. Do you have any suggestion? Everybody is trying to be nice, saying about the facilities and all, which is okay, but the best way to help is if there's anything you see that might be improved, courts, anything like that crossing your mind about this facility.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've only been able to play on the center court, all my matches on the center court. I think it's a nice place. I like how you're on the road and you just see the stadium. I think that's so different, how you just see it. It's like in the middle of nowhere. It's kind of, "Wow." It's weird.

Q. Can I ask you about the difference between this time playing Kim and when you played her at the US Open?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. At the US Open I just remember -- I don't remember much. I just remember hitting a lot of aces. This time, I don't know. I guess, you know, she got a little better, for sure.

Q. When you had your 117, was that at the US Open against her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think I hit that a few times in that tournament.

End of FastScripts….

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