September 10, 1999
U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, New York City
WTA: Questions for Serena.
Q. How do you feel, Serena?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess it feels great. You know, I'm in the final. I have one more round to win. Go out and do very well. It's very good.
Q. You were so excited on the court. You look very quiet. Is the tension, it's left?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely it's gone. The tournament isn't over yet. I'm still trying to win the tournament. I just still have another round to play. I'm not through yet.
Q. Did you notice your father at all in the final set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I don't know. I think he wasn't there at first, and then he was there in the end. I guess I noticed him coming, yeah.
Q. You seemed a bit nervous in the second set, frustrated. How did you eventually pull it all together?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I really just got determined. Lindsay was playing just unbelievable. She was hitting shots for winners, just attacking everything, literally everything. I just tried to go out there. I became really determined. I was like, "I'm tired of this. I want something also."
Q. What is "this"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She was just playing great. There's nothing you can do when Lindsay is playing like that. She's so powerful. It was all I could do just to be out there.
Q. There was a point in the 7th game of the deciding set that you broke Lindsay. It appeared to be a miss-hit on a return that just got over the net. Was it a miss-hit, or did you place that forehand?
SERENA WILLIAMS: After 17 years, I say I deserve a break once in a while, too (laughter).
Q. During that game, that very long game, did you get the feeling that whichever player won that game was going to win the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt that if I won that game, I would have a great chance of winning the match because all I had to do was hold serve. I felt if Lindsay won the game, I would have to fight. I was never going to give up. I never at one time felt I was going to lose. I was just thinking, "I'm never giving up."
Q. Your serve seemed to be a key part of the match. Lindsay brought up that you were varying speeds a lot, some at 70-something, then banging in some at, like, 115 miles an hour. Were you doing that purposely? Did you feel that was a real key in the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think so. My serve really came through, especially in the third. That was definitely a key. It really brought me out of some points. I was down breakpoint; I come up with a good serve. So, yeah, that was definitely a key.
Q. Obviously you want to win the title, but what does it mean to you just to be in the final, particularly when you faced elimination in the third round?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's great. I was definitely almost out of the tournament in the third round. I didn't want that. I came here with the goal to do very well here. I didn't come to lose in the third round. I was really determined to get through that. I guess it's great. Like I said, the tournament isn't over yet. I don't want my tournament to end here. If it does, it's great, but I want to keep on going.
Q. What time did you get here this morning, and how did you handle the long wait?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I actually was hitting elsewhere. I kind of got my workout in. I got here - I'm not sure - maybe around 1:00 because it was raining so hard everywhere.
Q. What did you do during the delay?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I played with my dog. I have a dog I played with, yeah. I didn't get here till 1:00, so I was, like, in the car for an hour and a half, almost three hours, trying to get here.
Q. When you and your sister were young and playing on the courts against each other, is this how you imagined it would happen: You two having a chance to play in a Grand Slam final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Actually, I thought that Venus and I always would have a chance to play in the final. It's a good opportunity that I'm there. I don't know. Just trying to make it now, just trying to go on.
Q. Did you see Venus after the match? Did you exchange any words?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. She asked for her hairbrush, because I had it.
Q. Whom do you prefer to play in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn't matter to me. Naturally, I would like to see Venus get through because she's my sister. But I would -- so I would like to play Venus. If she's not able to get through, then I don't mind playing Martina at all.
Q. Lindsay said you had a lot of trouble against Venus; that you should actually be rooting for Martina. Do you think that would be maybe an easier match for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Martina is playing well. She's practicing hard. It looks like she's trying to get into shape. She's really determined to be out there. What was the question?
Q. You've had one three-set win after another. What do you think that says about your growth and development of your game, your mental toughness?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really think I really developed mentally a lot. I'm really more composed out there. I didn't get nervous or anything. I just stayed determined and focused. I'm able to pull it through.
Q. Is that just from pure experience, or is that something you've been focusing on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's definitely something I've been focusing on; it definitely is. I really have been working hard, especially with my last two tournaments, really focusing more mentally than physically.
Q. You got lots of attention here. You played with lots of attention. How did you deal with the pressure? How did you go through the pressure?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really not that bad. I don't read anything about myself. I just look at the pictures. I'm actually trying to collect pictures of me. I get the pictures from the USA Today and New York Times. I try to collect the pictures. If you read the articles, it gets to you because you start thinking, you know, you should win, you should do well. If you don't, then it's all okay.
Q. Are you superstitious at all, not wanting to talk about the final? Is that any part of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I'm not superstitious, no.
Q. Do you generally prefer to play somebody, an opponent like Lindsay, who tries to match you power-for-power, or does she give you as much trouble or more trouble generally than a player like Martina Hingis who changes pace and angles a little bit more?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, they both can give you your problems. Lindsay can just hit outright winners like she did today. You have no chance. Whereas Martina, she will try to run you to death. I don't know. It's your choice. You have to be able to have some type of plan for yourself also.
Q. You said that you mentally improved. Did you grow up here as a player or as a woman or as both?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, mentally as a player, because I was tired of losing close matches. I figured that I've been working a long time. Physically, I was there. I was really strong. Just everything physically is innate in me, so I didn't have to work too hard on that mentally.
Q. And as a woman?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. You were talking about Venus asked you for a hairbrush. Is that all that happened? Did you talk a little bit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She was going right out for her match. I didn't have time to say anything. I said -- I don't even remember what I said really.
Q. Did you say, "Good luck"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's not a matter of luck, I don't think.
Q. Is the excitement of what you've done here today being tempered while this still goes on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Pardon me?
Q. Is your excitement being tempered while this match is still going on, what you achieved?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so, definitely. I saw that Venus lost the first set. I was pretty disappointed about that. I think so. Had she won the first set, I would be more excited.
Q. When do you think that point will be, whether she wins or loses, that you'll appreciate what you've done here today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe next week (laughter). Then it will all be over and I will know the outcome, whether I was able to win or lose.
Q. For a long time you've been known as Venus' little sister. Do you think, no matter what happens in her match, what happens tomorrow, you have kind of made a name for yourself here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so, in a way, yes. This is a big tournament. Also, I did very well this year just winning three tournaments on my own. I actually won a car. That was pretty exciting, so. I think I'm pretty much -- I don't think I'm known as "the little sister." I think everyone marks us as the Williams sisters. Instead of Venus and her younger sister, it's more dubbed the Williams sisters. I definitely felt that a little while ago.
Q. Can you describe the emotions when you played her in the finals in the spring?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In the beginning of the match, it was a little tough for us. It was weird because it was like you notice that you're playing your sister. After that, it was like I had completely gotten over it. I was able to be beyond it. It was just like a regular opponent.
Q. You said you collect photographs of yourself. What would it mean to you to wake up Sunday morning and see a picture on the front page of the sports page of you holding the US Open Trophy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That would be very exciting. I will have to get serious and more consistent if I want to do that.
Q. As the younger sister, had you always expected that Venus would win a Grand Slam before you, just because she was a little bit older?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never really thought about that. I just never thought about that, to be quite honest. She played a couple Grand Slams before me. I figured if she was in the tournament, she would have a good chance of winning it. I just never really thought about that.
Q. What scares you about playing her, about her game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What scares me?
Q. About her game.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I fear no one. I only fear God.
Q. Can you talk about what your preparation will be for the match? And, also, maybe if you had some preparation last night? Did you stay home, watch the MTV Music Awards?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not too much into that. I stayed home, stayed really focused. This is the moment in time. This is what I've been working for, for the Grand Slams, big tournaments, the big moments. I was really focused. I'm going to do it again tonight.
Q. Do you have a routine? Do you go to sleep at a certain time, eat a certain meal?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't go to sleep early. It's hard for me to go to sleep early. I'm more or less nocturnal, I guess.
Q. When one of you wins and the other one loses, is there a certain courtesy, that the winner behaves differently around the loser?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Predominantly we're both very bitter and resentful (laughter). I feel just as bad as she does, if she lost. If I lost, she feels just as bad as I do.
Q. Do you try to stay out of her way if she loses?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not necessarily. Venus, she's different from me. If she loses a match, it's like she can move on. She knows she has a lot of opportunities. Whereas, if I lose a match, I'm really down for a couple of days. I'm really down. So I think I need to learn how to be like, you know, not take it so seriously.
Q. If she wins, will the routine between you two change tonight? Will you still talk to her as you normally would?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure. I'll tell her that she has to keep her dogs away from mine because they cough too much. I don't want mine to be sick.
Q. I'm curious about your comment on what you said to Venus on your way out of the stadium. You say it is not a matter of luck. Before The Open, there was an interview of Rafter. He was asked, "What is it about you that makes you play well?" He said, "I guess it's luck." In a commentary about Pioline, the Frenchman surviving that match, John McEnroe once said that Sampras said to win a Grand Slam event, you need luck. How much premium do you place on luck?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I had a pretty lucky shot today with that one return. I don't too much believe in luck. I think it's skill. You go out there and you fight and you work. You don't work hard to have luck; you work hard to work hard. I know. Personally, I know that I'm not lucky. I have to go sweat in the sun every day when I could be at the pool with some lemonade. That's not luck; that's work. I'm sure that Pat, when he won his Slams, Pete, I'm sure they were doing a little sweating, too. It wasn't necessarily luck.
Q. Do you think you deserve to be in the final today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, definitely, uh-huh.
Q. You said you had to be more consistent. How do you think you can work on that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it's a little late now to try to work on it (laughter). I don't know. Maybe I can fix a screw in my brain or something.
Q. You say obviously good results come from hard work. Have you worked harder this year than any other year in your life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I remember when I was younger, I used to practice like from 8 to like 11, then from 1 to 5. I definitely wasn't doing that this year. I wouldn't be here right now. I'd be burned out somewhere. It was important to get those foundations when you're younger because that's what really sets you when you get a little older. I more trained mentally. I've been in the gym a lot, working out like that more than what I have been in the past. I have really gotten serious on things outside of the court, like to get stronger. I look really strong, but I wasn't that strong. I had to go to the gym. I got a trainer. I've been working really hard.
Q. A lot more weights this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. I did weights last year, but I just wasn't serious about it. Now I was more determined and I will go more often.
Q. In the second set, Venus is now up a break. How does that make you feel?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's not over yet. It's a little better. I'm going to have to go out and support her.
Q. None of the three tournaments you've won this year was Venus entered in the singles. Would your family really appreciate you guys getting together in the final? Seems like they've been striving to keep you apart.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not necessarily. Venus and I make our schedules on our own. We decide what tournaments we're going to play and what we're not. That's about it.
Q. When you were growing up, do you remember teasing Venus about, "Someday I'm going to catch you and pass you, be better than you"? Was that conversation sort of off limits?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't remember teasing her about that actually. Does anyone know if I moved up any in the rankings?
Q. You will.
SERENA WILLIAMS: 5? I came in here No. 6 and I'm only No. 5 now. That's pretty disappointing. I mean, I thought for sure if I do well in a Grand Slam, I can take a top spot, you know, gee.
Q. Has there ever been something that's been important in both of your lives that you have done first before she has?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess not. I mean, I guess she's always been the big sister. She always went ahead to do things first.
Q. Are there other things you're competitive over besides tennis, whether it's checkers?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We don't play checkers.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. I remember when we were younger, when you warm up, you run around the court. That was so silly. I used to always want to race. Venus was so upset. She's like, "Serena, why do you always want to race me?" I don't know why I wanted to do that. Don't worry, I don't do that. I run real slow now.
Q. Did you two drive over together this morning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I came over first because my match was before hers, so.
Q. Why have you had success against Martina Hingis on hard court this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess because hard court really suits me. I'll really quick. I really, really like to play on hard courts. It really suits my game. She's playing good now. I guess it suits her game also. I'm going to have to be ready for anything. I can't underestimate anyone.
Q. You mentioned that you and Venus make your schedules independently. It sounds like your family is very close. Do you feel in the past year that you've both kind of really become independent, in a good way, that you are sort of directing your career? Are those things a family decision?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, my dad is my coach still. My mom is also. They do a great job with us. As for directing my career, I don't know. I really don't know. Sorry.
Q. What are your thoughts when so much is being made of you and your sister being called sort of Trailblazers, role models in terms of not just for African American younger girls and athletes, but also in the world of tennis. What are your thoughts on that? Do you see yourself as that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Kind of like a role model?
Q. Yes, just making in-roads for others that are watching you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely see myself as someone that would watch my game, want to follow it, say, "I want to be like Serena." Every day I go out, it's really tough for me to go out now because everyone recognizes me. It's really hard. But every time I do go out, someone says, "I never used to watch tennis until you and your sister started playing." Apparently we've had some type of impact, not only in the minority groups, but just everyone around. It's pretty exciting in a way, it really is.
Q. You're okay with that or is that too much of a pressure on you or it goes with the territory?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It goes with the territory. I'm okay with it. It's all right with me. I have to accept it if I want to do well, or I can take another path and do really bad, people not watch tennis.
Q. Again today a lot of the workers, restaurant workers and so forth, came out at the end to watch your match. Is that something that touches you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I touch everyone. Everyone wants to see me. I don't blame them (laughter). "Got to get a look at Serena."
Q. The whole subject of a role model comes up all the time. Is that the sort of thing you think, "I'll let the role model thing take its own toll, I won't burden myself"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I don't burden myself with that. I actually think it pumps me up to think that there's some little kid out there that wants to be like me, is actually depending on me. If I have bad techniques, they're going to have bad techniques, too. That actually influences me to actually want to go out and do better.
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