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November 16, 1999

Serena Williams


Q. Did you have any inkling before today that you may not be playing in the tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: None whatsoever. None at all.

Q. Do you feel that you were feeling good and ready to play?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. Most definitely ready to play; compete and play and practice really hard for the Grand Slam Cup.

Q. Serena, you had a match tonight at 6 o'clock. What were you doing practicing at 7 o'clock in the morning?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I always practice early in the morning. I like to get my practice done really early so that I can go home and rest until -- so I can have the whole day. And I always practice early. I always practice at 7:00. It's what I do. I don't like anyone beating me out on the court.

Q. But doesn't that take away from some of your rest; like you might have to get up at 5:00 in the morning to get to a practice court to play at 6:00 and 7:00? Don't you think that's pushing it a little bit in terms of rest and relaxation?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I get up at -- at 6:30. I'm always up early anyway. I'm not a lazy individual. I usually wake up early, and I get back home and I have break and relax for the rest of the day.

Q. Are you still in pain, Serena?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, more than what I was originally.

Q. What are you supposed to do to help this get better?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think rest, and I'm actually going to see two doctors tomorrow.

Q. Did you see a doctor at home in Florida today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I just got home. So I'm going to wait until tomorrow, just rest tonight and then wait until tomorrow.

Q. Has it ever felt this bad before?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. Not this bad ever. I had this before, but, I mean, this is definitely the worst.

Q. How does dropping out of this tournament affect your impression of the season?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think overall, I had a really good season. I felt like I could have played better at some events and done a little better. I can't say that this is -- I had actually -- I didn't -- sorry. I wasn't able to make it to this tournament last year, but this year, I made it and I really wanted to play. I wanted to play last year, also, but I didn't make it; so I was really looking forward to it.

Q. What will stick out in your mind about the past season, what will you remember most?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Most definitely, my US Open win in singles and doubles.

Q. If this injury is not long-term, are you planning to play the Australian Open after all?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm thinking about it. It's in consideration. There's a chance I might go. There's a chance, I'm not sure. I just want to make sure everything is okay.

Q. Considering that you won the last Slam on a hardcourt, why would you not play the Australian?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know.

Q. Could you describe again what it was that you did this morning that hurt your back initially?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I really don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out. I was practicing. I was almost done. It was like 7:40, and I took a break for some water and I was out to hit some volleys and after about 5:00, all of the sudden, I had a little pain in my back, and, you know, I just thought it was just maybe -- just like a pain that will come and go. But it actually got worse and worse, and I was starting to come off, and worst came to worst and here I am.

Q. Is it disappointing to have had to withdraw from two major tournaments this year before they started, Wimbledon and here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. I mean, this one is really disappointing because I was there, and there's actually nothing I can do about it. Just unbelievable pain.

Q. Did Venus or your dad have any comforting words for you today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Of course. They always do. My dad is always there to support, my mom, also. Yeah, they always are very comforting.

Q. Anything in particular?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. Just -- not really. Nothing I really care to share right now.

Q. Do you have any idea how soon you will be recovering?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I can only hope for as soon as possible. Hopefully, you know, within a week or two, three.

Q. Is this the lowest point of your season so far?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say so, because I was really, really focused and really, really ready to go at this event, and ready to end the year on an awesome note. I think I had -- I have a pretty good ending to the year; so I just wanted to end it on an even better note. But, unfortunately, you can't always have it your way.

Q. Do you think you'll play more tournaments next year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. Definitely. Yeah, for sure.

Q. Are we going to see you and Venus in some more of the same tournaments or are you going to try to keep it separate?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We'll be in more of the same tournaments but I'm not sure. We'll have to work it out, going over our schedules.

Q. How are you going to decide?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus and I might go to the same tournaments, like L.A., san Diego, things like that. We'll see how it works out. We might play a few events together. Who knows? We'll just have to wait and see.

Q. What's the longest you've gone without playing tennis or without doing any kind of exercise?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say about -- four years when I was born. No, I don't know. I really can't answer that question. I haven't thought about it. Maybe three, four weeks.

Q. Is it frustrating for you when you're not -- when you're not out there, whether it's practicing or playing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say playing is more frustrating because there's players out there I know I can take, especially like they haven't -- that I know I would have a great chance of actually coming out the winner. It's definitely frustrating.

Q. So when you came into this tournament, you expected to win?

SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I've always expected to win tournaments. So my goal has been with the past few tournaments; so I'm playing one match at a time and I've been doing better at that. So I'm just taking it one match at a time.

Q. Can you describe how you've matured this season?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've just matured, mentally, with my game. I'm more mentally stable. I know what I want. I know that I -- I don't want to have to lose a match. I want to be able to go out there and do my best.

Q. Were you surprised by the number of fans you've accumulated throughout the season?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess so. I have a lot of people out there supporting. I love everyone's support, and it's really great to have a lot of people on your side, because the fans mean everything to me.

Q. How does it feel to be a role model for young women?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a great feeling because I know I look up to other people, and it's nice to have other people that can be a role model for young people. I feel great and I hope I'm setting a good -- a good example.

Q. How does it feel to always have the support of your family?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's great. They have always been supporting me. I think it's been, no matter what decisions I make, they help me make decisions. And if I'm confused. I know I can go to my family for help. I really believe in family, and I'm really happy that I have the set of parents and the set of sisters that I have.

Q. How are you right now, are you lying down, standing up, sitting down? What do you have to do to rest your back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Right now, I'm in a recliner just trying to rest. It hurts every time I take a deep breath.

End of FastScripts….

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