March 23, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Serena, that was a great first set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, what happened in the first set was I was on fire. In the second set, she put my fire out. I was really on fire in that first set. That was the best set I think I ever played. I didn't make that many unforced errors at all. I made all my shots. I was just doing a great job. But in the second set, I slowed down. I started thinking about a lot of things like at home, I'm doing well, I'm going to be in the quarterfinals. I just started thinking about a lot of things. Then I probably got a little uptight, nervous, lost the second set.
Q. Came back in the third?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I came back in the third. I was like, "Serena, you can't do this." I just started thinking about staying calm, I had to do it.
Q. Could have gone either way in the end.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. Only one break at the end. I knew that I needed to break her. I knew I needed to win my serve every time. If I won my serve, it put -- since I served first, it put pressure back on her to win her serve. That's what I wanted to keep doing. I had struggled a little with my serve. I should have won at 40-30 with that forehand I didn't put away. But I was able to win.
Q. Did you sense she wasn't that comfortable at the net?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That she wasn't?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I was just sensing that I was going to try to run down every ball. I saw Marcelo Rios -- another example with the men -- I saw Marcelo Rios playing Tommy Haas yesterday. I couldn't believe the balls he got back. I said, "Serena, you have to get these balls back, too." I wanted to get every ball back.
Q. At the point in the 5-3 game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. I was trying to get every ball back.
Q. There was this one situation when you misjudged the ball, the lob.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I should have hit that ball.
Q. You lost that game because of that point.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uh-huh.
Q. Do you feel strange about the situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: See, in that situation, I always have to move on. I can't dwell on the past. If I were to dwell on that, I probably would have lost. I probably would have been thinking: "Why didn't I hit that? I should have hit that." I would have freaked out, which is really ridiculous to do something like that when you can just stay calm, stay quiet, just continue.
Q. I was trying to figure out whether you were hobbling after you fell in the second set. Were you having any problems after falling?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't have any problems after falling. What happened was, I slipped. I wasn't able to get the ball. I slipped. It was like "AHH." I was angry because I knew I could have got that ball. No problems involved.
Q. Can you see one day you and Patty in a U.S. Open final, of course Venus may be there also?
SERENA WILLIAMS: How old is she?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She won a tournament, beat Jana Novotna in the finals. She's playing very, very well. I knew in order to play today, I had to be ready to rally and be serious. Very excited right now.
Q. Didn't have a radar gun out there. Do you have a sense of how fast your serve was?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Today I wasn't hitting my serves hard at all. I missed a lot of first serves out there. I've got to work on that. I wasn't hitting them as hard as I could at all.
Q. What was your top speed?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the top speed I hit was 110. In a match normally, I don't try to hit the ball hard. I just place it. When I did that, it was the other night, I wasn't even trying to hit the ball hard. Maybe if I pump it up, pump it up one day, I'll be able to hit it hard.
Q. Serena, what are you doing especially well this week?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Two and a half weeks ago, I didn't have a backhand (laughter). But I have a backhand now. Actually, my backhand might be a little better than my forehand, I don't know. It just happens. I think my backhand is really bad. Barbara Paulus really tried to attack my backhand, and it didn't work. It's not the same as two and a half weeks ago. It's much different.
Q. Where did it come from?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Maybe it's that other person gave it back to me.
Q. Venus has occasionally made the remark that the two of you would be 1 and 2 in the world today. If that's the case, which of you will be No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not sure right now. We're both working very hard. Maybe it will switch, maybe it won't. There are still other players who still want to be No. 1. There's going to be a lot of changes maybe.
Q. Is there a rivalry between you? If she were No. 1, would you be happy being No. 2?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Who would be happy being No. 2 when they have the same opportunity to be No. 1? I don't think anyone would be happy. I mean, I'd probably be happy, but I wouldn't really be joyful. So I will go out and work hard. If I worked hard and I did my best, and I still was No. 2, I couldn't beat her, then I would be happy then. After I did all the hard work, I will see.
Q. Are you comfortable being compared to her and being asked who is better at this, who is better at that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think we're about even when it comes to surfing. We're both pretty bad. She might be a little better. She's definitely better at the paddling than I am.
Q. The other day I asked Venus who her favorite all-time player was and why. She said she couldn't tell us because you didn't agree with us. I think it was Magnus Larsson. She wanted to know who yours was and why.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Favorite player now? My favorite player in the past was John McEnroe. I had a very bad John-McEnroe attitude in the doubles match the other day.
Q. Is that why you liked him, his on-court feistiness?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I like to start trouble (laughter). I like John McEnroe a lot. I just always liked him. He was pretty cool. But now things are different.
Q. How about now? Who is it now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone's out there doing their best. I really respect people who are fast. It makes me want to be just like fast and lightning-like. I don't know. It doesn't matter.
Q. Chang? Rios?
SERENA WILLIAMS: They're both very fast. Whoever, yeah.
Q. Any thoughts? Martina is probably the next opponent.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I don't have anything to lose. I'm like 50?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm 40 in the world. She's No. 1. All the pressure is on her. I'm just going to go out there and have some fun for once.
Q. For once?
SERENA WILLIAMS: For twice (laughter).
Q. Recently, it looks like it's Switzerland against the Williams family.
SERENA WILLIAMS: What's up with that?
Q. Is that a new country, the Williams family?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. We like the Romanians. Hope no one takes that personal (laughter). I just go out there and play. Doesn't matter who it is.
Q. Why the bare feet? Do you want to show us the nail polish?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I forgot to put my shoes on. Someone was telling me some very exciting news.
Q. What is it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not going to tell the news.
Q. It's not news unless you tell us.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just that me and what's his name? I think it's Kuerten are going to do something. He already agreed so I'm trying to decide if I should.
Q. Is that going to be one of those matches that you play on the back courts?
SERENA WILLIAMS: God, no. I would lose.
Q. Serena, what have you learned from playing Hingis in the past?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never played Hingis in the past.
Q. You haven't?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No.
Q. So what are you looking forward to?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm looking forward to just going out there and have fun, try to prove myself. I think I've already proved myself. I'm looking forward to playing, as long as I don't play tomorrow.
Q. You said your dad brought you up to be confident, that your parents did. What did they do, do you feel like, to instill that in you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, the way they always carried themselves, the way their attitude was toward us as children, our whole family, and the way they were toward other people. They were not rude or obscene. They were always confident. They always managed to stay calm and monotone toward people. I think that really helped us out. That's it.
Q. What kind of watch are you wearing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm wearing the same one I was in Sydney. Green Eggs and Ham on the right wrist and the Goofy on the left.
Q. Why the two now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Whenever I go somewhere, I would have the Green Eggs and Ham watch would change time with wherever I go. If I go to Australia, it's on Australia time. This one is always on home time.
Q. But you're home.
SERENA WILLIAMS: So they're both on home.
Q. Are you superstitious?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Not at all. I try not to be. If you go out there, you just -- if you lose, it's your fault, not because you didn't put your hair in the same ponytail today.
Q. Did you like Dr. Seuss growing up? Is that why you like Green Eggs and Ham?
SERENA WILLIAMS: They're okay. I never liked how the parents would always leave the kids at home. They were always staring out the window. I was always upset about that. I think the cat would mess up the whole house. I hated that. It was ridiculous.
Q. Abusive parents.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't like that.
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