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September 8, 1999

Serena Williams

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

WTA: Questions for Serena.

Q. What is the dog's name?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She has two names, because I couldn't decide. She's named Jackie or Baila, which means "dance" in Spanish.

Q. What kind of dog is it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's a Jack Russell.

Q. Did you buy that puppy somewhere near Lexington?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Lexington and 62nd. She said, "No more questions."

Q. Did you buy her today?


Q. How do you explain what happened in the third set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: In the third set, I was really focused. I really just came out with a better plan. I was a little nervous in the first set because it was obviously my first quarterfinal in a Grand Slam. I put too much pressure on myself. The third set, I completely calmed down. I just began to play my game. That's how I play normally.

Q. How excited are you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was pretty excited at first. I mean, believe it or not, it's already settled in. I'm ready to move on.

Q. You've had some problems early in the year with split set matches. You've won three straight at The Open. What's changed?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely a more wiser person. I'm overall just a better player. That's what's changed. Time goes and you just become a better player.

Q. You have a different attitude going into the third sets now?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I have the attitude that I'm just not going to lose. I've been doing pretty well in third sets this tournament. I need to start doing better in the first sets. I never had this problem, though. Usually, you'll notice, like in Acura Classic, I didn't lose a set. I usually never have these problems. I don't know.

Q. How are you a wiser person, Serena?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think better on the court. I see the whole court instead of just one side, one-dimensional. I see the whole court now. That's really important.

Q. You said you never had this problem. But in Grand Slams, however, you've lost your share of important matches.


Q. Here, anytime you've gotten into a tight spot, you've pulled it out, been more controlled, played more aggressive. Did you have a different game plan coming into the tournament or are things just kind of happening naturally?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I did really prepare mentally for this tournament for quite some time now. I think that's maybe what it has to do with. I'm really convinced that I was definitely going to do well here. This was a great opportunity for me. Especially skipping Wimbledon, that was really terrible for me because I was really ready to play. I wasn't able to play. I was really ready to be here. I was so mentally prepared, I think that was the difference. I'm going to try to do that in the other Slams also.

Q. You had that trip in the third set. Were you worried?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I tripped because my shoe got caught a little. I thought maybe it could be a crack in the ground. I kind of fell on my hand, and it was like a little stiff. I said, "I don't have time for this. I have to move on."

Q. How similar is your game to Venus'? What are the similarities and differences now that you're both here in the semifinals of the Open?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Venus is definitely a more powerful player than what I am. I would say I'm a little less powerful player. I use more of the court than what Venus does, although she's doing that a lot better now. She has a bigger serve, but I have more aces (laughter).

Q. How much do you feed off the US Open crowd? Do you think they're pro Serena Williams or in this match do you think it was mixed?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was mixed. A lot of people out there are really for me. I was pretty excited about that. Usually when I go into courts, the crowd tends to kind of be for the other person. Here in New York, it was pretty exciting that everybody was pretty much clapping for me. Monica had a lot of fans out there too.

Q. On TV you said you were so excited, you've been working on this for so long, then after you left, Tracy and some of the others teased you. You've been working so long, you're just 17 years old. Could you reflect on that? Do you feel like a veteran already? Do you still feel like you're new to the game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely don't feel like a veteran. I feel like I've been practicing for years and years. I've been practicing since I was four to do well not only at the small tournaments; I've been doing well at those, but your ranking really doesn't move unless you do well in the big tournaments.

Q. First game of the third set, you hit a running lob. Can you describe that play for us.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Monica had me on the run. She's very good at putting people on the run. She had me side-to-side. Actually had 40-15 in that game. I kept thinking to myself, "If I can get this first game, that was really important." It was really important for me. I kept thinking, "One point at a time." I just happened to get there and hit a lob. Like I said before in a lot of other interviews, I don't like people to hit winners on me. Monica hit quite a few today. She's that type of person. When you play her, you know she's going to hit a couple winners on you.

Q. Does a lot of pulling out the match have to do with your mental game on the court? Seems like you mixed up the shots at the right times.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I definitely could have mixed up my shots better. I haven't seen the stats, but I think I definitely made way too many unforced errors. I think I played a nervous game out there, to be quite honest.

Q. Seems like both you and Venus have added a slice serve to the deuce side recently. Something you've been working on recently?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, yeah, kind of, sort of. It's always a good thing to have those wide serves on both sides of the court. It's a good thing. That makes a player stress. You have the whole opening. I've noticed that's a good serve. I, of course, want to adopt that.

Q. Someone in your family is really famous for making predictions. Do you think this is the tournament for his prediction to come true?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We're not mentioning names here?

Q. It's late.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I still have one more match. My dad has been right about a lot of things. You have to admit. He said I was going to come up. I have. He's been right about quite a few things. I still have one match to go. If I can do well in this match, I know it will be great. If not, I don't have anything to lose.

Q. But you didn't answer the question.


Q. Is it going to come true? Is your dad's prediction going to come true?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I think everyone should wait and see.

Q. Could you assess the two semifinals?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'll start with Venus. She's playing more thinker. She's playing Martina, who thinks very well on the court. I've watched her last matches. She's hitting balls more harder. She's moving the ball around. She's really moving up. She's doing a lot of good things. So Venus is going to have to attack, not make too many errors. I think she can do that. She has to stay mentally sound. The other semifinal, which includes me, we have two power hitters. Lindsay hits the ball really hard. I hit the ball hard. It's going to be a fun semifinals. It's pretty exciting for women's tennis. Again, we're always carrying the men's tennis (laughter).

Q. Will you watch Venus' match as a sister or as someone scouting a potential opponent?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, absolutely I'm going to do both. I'm going to have to play the winner. If I'm able to make it through, I'm going to have to play the winner of that match. Of course, you want to see what the other person is doing on the other side of the fence. That's what I'm going to do.

Q. Do you think there's one thing about her game that you possibly don't know?


Q. Venus Williams.

SERENA WILLIAMS: She might have something in her back pocket that she hasn't pulled out yet.

Q. Do you prefer to have her watching you or do you prefer playing her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Have her watching me?

Q. Watching you and being in the crowd. Do you feed off of her presence or would you much rather relish the challenge of being on the other side of the net?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, just to be honest, I prefer, I guess, to have her watching me. In this tournament, I definitely would prefer to see her on the other side of the net. In most tournaments, I really prefer to see her on the other side of the net because I would like her to win her matches and meet up with me. That would definitely be the most obvious choice.

Q. It's only in the last year or so that Venus has sort of drawn even with Lindsay, been able to compete with her on a more equal basis. You're having much more success with Lindsay at age 16 and 17. Why do you match up better with Lindsay Davenport?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think Lindsay really likes for people to hit really hard, I guess. Venus really brings that game to her. Like I said, Venus is more powerful than me. She's bigger and stronger. I can't have as much power as Lindsay and Venus do. Maybe that gives her a little trouble. I don't know.

Q. She's particularly tough in the forehand cross-court rallies. How do you do in those with her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I personally believe I have one of the best forehands out there. Actually, it was me and Steffi competing. Every time I played her, I would get in a rally, forehand cross-court. I probably won two. She won a lot of them.

Q. Are you talking about Steffi or Lindsay?


Q. What about Lindsay?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't played her recently enough to get her in the forehand cross-court rallies. I watched her matches. She's really swinging it.

Q. Do you relish the challenge? Will you go down the line or say, "Okay, Lindsay, here we go, let's hit five or six in a row cross-court"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We'll just have to wait and see what I'm thinking at that point in time.

Q. You said that your dad has been pretty much right all along. Do you ever tell him that he's wrong?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not necessarily, no.

Q. What are the consequences if you do that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: If you read my dad's comments, you'll notice that he says it's a liberal family. What is it, a democracy? Yeah.

Q. Before this match you were asked what was your secret in playing Monica. You wisely said you would not divulge your strategy. Now we're after the match, can you tell us?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I really have no secret. I just go out there and play. If you're playing Serena, honestly, even on a bad day, I'm tough to beat.

Q. The family has been here now in New York for about two weeks. It's a very convenient time to begin negotiations for the Rockefellar Center. Do you know if your dad has begun those negotiations?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I think so. With Venus and I both still in the singles and doubles, we can walk home with a pocketful of money. We might go ahead and compete for Rockefeller Center.

Q. You said at the beginning of the press conference that in prior tournaments you didn't necessarily feel a lot of crowd support. Is that true and can you talk a little bit about that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. Like overseas especially. Like at the Lipton, that's definitely the most support. Overseas when I'm playing the other French people, Germans, if I'm in Germany, they really support their people. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a great thing. That's basically it.

Q. But in the US how is it, other than Lipton? How is it for you at other tournaments?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Here it's really good. I remember Indian Wells, I was playing Steffi in the final, she had a lot of fans. But she had most of the crowd, I think. She's a great champion. Who wouldn't want to cheer for her? What other? I mean, it was ironic, though, in LA where I was from. I was playing Julie Halard in the final. She totally won the crowd because she had so many wonderful wins. I think she beat Lindsay and someone else. I can't remember.

Q. Do you think it's maybe because you guys have moved to Florida, that might be part of it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. Everyone comes up to me, seems like everyone comes up to me and said, "Good luck," yet I didn't have that much support there. It's okay. I took home the title. That's all that matters.

Q. When you guys are like a match away from playing each other, I know you're concentrating on the match ahead, but when you're at the Lipton, was there ever a reason to feel uncomfortable because you were going to be playing your sister or you got excited you would be playing against each other?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was uncomfortable maybe during the coin toss and maybe the first game. After that, it's like you see her as an opponent because you want to win. You don't think about anything else. Other than that, other than like the first game, it's normal. You're out there and competing and you have to compete.

Q. Would you say that you have the ultimate situation, to have a sister to hit with, to have support from, just have that love?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely do. I definitely have the best situation because it's like traveling with a friend. Yeah, I mean, I get to travel with my mom and dad. It's great, awesome.

Q. How often do you play sets when you're in training back home?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We really don't play sets much. We usually just practice and do a lot of drills, really prepare with that stuff. We don't too much play any sets. I think we like to keep that for the tournaments.

Q. Do you play points?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. Usually we hit against other people. We have other guys that we hit against. We don't really play points. Thanks.

End of FastScripts….

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