September 11, 1999
U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, New York City
WTA: Questions for Serena.
Q. Now you are the first Williams sister.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Venus was born before me actually.
Q. How good does this feel to you? Must be kind of amazing, strange, unreal, wonderful.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really amazing. I mean, you totally prepare for this. I was always one to say, "I want to win the US Open. I want it." Venus always wanted Wimbledon. I guess when she wins Wimbledon, she's going to have the same feeling. It's really exciting.
Q. How will this victory affect Venus, do you think? Do you think it's going to shatter her confidence a little that her younger sister was first to do this or motivate her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I think, if anything, it's going to motivate her. She was up there supporting me. After I lost my first two match points, I looked over to not my mom or dad, I saw them also, but I saw Venus over there really making sure, pumping me up. It really helped me, so.
Q. Why The Open? Why was this the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. My dad used to say to Venus and I, "Which big ones do you want to win." I just said the The Open. Venus said Wimbledon.
Q. Was it anything about New York?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I was young at the time.
Q. You got a call from President Clinton?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Was that in the locker room?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, the CBS studio. It was very exciting. I thought for sure my day couldn't get any better. Next thing I knew, someone was telling me, "The President of the United States wants to talk." I was thinking, "Wow."
Q. That's never happened in women's tennis. What does that say about women's tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: He said that they had watched my last three matches and they were really rooting for me, him and Chelsea also. I talked to her also, she's really nice (laughter). She said she'll show me around Stanford when I go there for Fed Cup if I wanted to. Pretty exciting.
Q. Do you have any special plans to celebrate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not yet. I haven't even had time to think about it really. I've been doing all you guys' request and the media. I haven't had much time.
Q. When you lost the two match points at 5-3, did you tighten up at all or did you think, "I'm still going all out"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think after I lost those two match points, I was very upset with myself. I think I remember at the Lipton how I was at two match points against her then. I actually lost the match. I was like, "Serena, this can't happen. You have to think positive things." I thought for sure I was going to hold my serve when I went out at 5-4. I guess something went dreadfully wrong and I didn't hold.
Q. A lot of players playing in their first Grand Slam final in that situation, losing the two match points, could have just totally caved. Why didn't you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There comes a time where you just have to stop caving. You have to stop. I encourage all you guys to stop (laughter). You get tired. You just get so tired of having to just go down because of one simple problem. In the end, I told myself, "You're going to have to perform. Even if you win or lose, you're still going to be out here and you're going to have to perform." That's what I did.
Q. Have you ever won a tournament before, other than Paris?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In singles, yes. Paris was the first tournament I won, was in Paris. Now I have four.
Q. In your career?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In my career.
Q. Your father said that your confidence and your lack of fear of anyone was your greatest quality. How have you gotten that quality?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say from my parents, my mom, she doesn't fear anyone. It's pretty exciting. She's always been a tough person like that.
Q. From your mother mostly?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Did Venus help you at all in terms of preparing for today? She played Martina yesterday.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She was really down. That really encouraged me to be even more tougher out there, just to have to see her that down. I've never seen her that down before, so, yeah.
Q. You said yesterday that your physical attributes aren't what's either on or off; that it's the mental game for you. You're such a strong player. Can you put a percentage on how much the mental game is for your performance?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I was really mentally tough out there. I wouldn't give into anything. The first set, I wanted to come out strong and tough, and I did. It's not that I was actually hitting really hard out there; I was just really mentally focused because I didn't want to go down. I worked hard, too. I wanted to have an opportunity myself.
Q. Your first 'thank you' was to Jehovah. I know you've been asked this before. Could you sort of summarize your belief?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses. We believe in the theory of monotheism.
Q. And you don't believe in luck. Obviously, you believe in making things happen for yourself, opportunities. Does that play a big part in your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say so, yeah. It definitely plays a big part in my game.
Q. For all the excitement today from the fans and people, you had to see the people hanging from rooftops. Was it you or women's tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely women's tennis. I couldn't have been out there alone playing against myself to have that many people out there at all. I mean, I was playing the No. 1 player in the world, Martina. She's really playing some great tennis. She had just an unbelievable match last night against Venus. I'm sure if I was out there alone, there could have been a lot of fans, but nothing close to that. She had a lot of fans out there. A lot of people wanted her to do well also. It's definitely women's tennis.
Q. Are you surprised you could hold on with 57 unforced errors?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow. I mean, imagine if I stop making those errors, can you guys imagine? That's like inconceivable, huh?
Q. Can you talk a little bit about following the legacy of players like Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and drawing other fans to tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really exciting. I once heard Althea Gibson, one of her best friends told me she wanted to see another African American win a Slam before her time is up. I'm so excited I had a chance to accomplish that while she's still alive. It's just really great.
Q. What about the fans you've brought to the game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What about them?
Q. You certainly are drawing a different group of fans, and not just minority, but different types of people to tennis. Is that something you pay a lot of attention to?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, somewhat, yes. You have to because, before, the tennis before Venus and I, to be honest, there wasn't that many other people, different races coming out. Zina and Lori and Katrina Adams, they all definitely brought some interest to the game. Then there was a little of a hiatus before there was another player that was able to come out and do as well as they did.
Q. When you won the match on that point, it kind of looked like you were in disbelief. How many different emotions were going through you at that point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was pretty exciting. I'm thinking, "Should I scream? Should I yell? Should I cry? What should I do?" I guess I ended up doing them all. It was so exciting. I mean, it was like -- it's like in the whole tournament, "One more match, one more this." There was no more. That was it. That was the apex. That was it. It was so exciting.
Q. Was there any point where you were saying, "I hope it doesn't go to the third set"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, naturally, yeah, I hope it doesn't go to the third set. If it does, I would have -- it would be my own punishment.
Q. At that point when Martina made her little comeback there at the end of the second set, was it a point of, "Let me hold on"? Did you say, "I have to be aggressive, keep hitting winners"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Did I hit that many winners in the match?
Q. Four times as many as she did, 28.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow. What were you asking again?
Q. When she made that little comeback, was it a matter to you of, "Let me hold on here," or, "Let me be aggressive and go after her"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think I said to myself, "All I have to do is hold serve here." I didn't when it was 5-All. She held serve. I guess in a way I was thinking about holding on. I should have been thinking on the contrary: "Let me attack. Let me move up to the ball." Those final games, I didn't do that at all. Definitely bet your money that I will be working on that.
Q. What did your father say to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: He was so proud. He said, "I'm so happy. This is great."
Q. You served incredibly well the last couple matches. Is that the one shot where you never get nervous, more or less your money shot?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say so, definitely. I can feel it. I can serve it. Even if I miss all my first serves, I go for it. I feel in my heart I'm going to make it.
Q. What are your thoughts in following Althea Gibson's footsteps 30 years later?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really amazing. It's really amazing for me just to even have an opportunity to be compared as great as Althea Gibson. She was a great player. It's pretty exciting for me. I've actually went out and won a Slam. It's very -- it's great.
Q. Did you ever see any of her matches?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, I have. I haven't been able to see them all. I see a little footage of her running, hitting some backhands, stuff like that.
Q. How do you think is changing your life tomorrow morning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, I don't know. I guess I have a lot of requests, go on the Today Show.
Q. Do you want to buy something?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't think about that. Hmm. . .
Q. What are you going to do with all this money?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. I have a project right now, so I won't be able to do anything.
Q. You don't buy any present for yourself, a little thing maybe?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'll have to see.
Q. You have a chance to get a second title now. How do you feel about that, the doubles?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I definitely feel motivated and ready to go (laughter). Here I go again. Just two more matches (laughter). I'm really ready, psyched up about it.
Q. Are you able to concentrate on all of this today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I don't want to let Venus down at all. I'm really going to hold my own on my side of the court.
Q. When you watched the end of Venus' match last night, what did you pick up about Martina that you decided to expose today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, really, she was playing so well last night. She was really moving. I picked up how she was just really moving the ball around. That's what she did well, is she did that well.
Q. You went out and practiced last night on the practice court. Would you share what you were doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I decided it was time for me to go out. Apparently, it worked. After I saw that Martina had won, I didn't want to go out in the same manner. The way she was playing, I was thinking, "Wow, Serena, you have to go out and improve also." I went out and hit some groundstrokes and some serves.
Q. After your match, I called my parents, both of them were crying with joy. How do you feel about the emotional attachment that your fans have with your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, that's really great, that I can have this type of impact on people. It's pretty exciting. I'm very happy that they were happy for me because I was happy, too.
Q. Will this cause any problem between you and your sister, in the family? Is she okay with all of this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't see where it would cause a problem at.
Q. You're the first one. You could have met in the finals. Your dad predicted that. You already said she was very down, never seen her this down.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. We really believe in family, in the family. I just don't see where it can affect her. Tennis is a game; it's not your life. It's just a game. She has many, many, many opportunities, and so do I. We both will be fighting for the next Slam, just try to go out and do the best we can.
Q. What did you learn today about Martina?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Boy, that she's a real fighter. She never gives up. She's a great champion.
Q. Do you think African Americans in tennis, they have the same chance as other athletes? Do you think you can change this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure, I think they have the same chance as other athletes.
Q. Now that Mr. Clinton talked to you, do you have to get more familiar with politics?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not into politics. I don't talk politics.
Q. What did Clinton say to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: He was just saying, "Congratulations," that I did well, that he was watching the matches, everything went smoothly. They were rooting for me and very happy.
Q. Are you going to follow up on Chelsea's offer to show you around?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. I definitely think so. I heard it's a nice campus. I've never been to Stanford.
Q. Go to the top of the tower.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'll have to check it out. She says it's beautiful.
Q. Which is your next dream?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You guys should know the answer to this. To go to Disneyworld (laughter).
Q. What do you think your chances would have been against Karsten Braasch today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think he's a lady player, so I don't think he would have been in the lady's competition. I'm sorry about that, though. Maybe he can go ahead and win on the men's side.
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