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January 14, 2006

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena, please.

Q. Are you fully fit? Are you ready to go?


Q. No injury concerns at all?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not on my end.

Q. What about your fitness? Do you believe your fitness is right?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely, yeah.

Q. There have been some comments that have questioned your fitness. What do you say to that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly I've never read any comments about my fitness. I don't read the papers. I always look at the pictures. Usually, I'm like "Ugh" or "Ooh." Just depends on how the picture looks. That's about it. I never read articles. I actually stopped reading articles in the summer of '35. I stopped reading articles about myself. So, yeah, I don't know what people say about me.

Q. What do you think about the pictures in the papers?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It depends. Like sometimes I'll be like, "Oh, I look nice." Sometimes I'll be like, "Oh, what is that?" It just really depends on which picture I'm looking at.

Q. Have you seen any in the last few days?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I saw one of me running. And I was like, wow, my hamstring muscle is that big? I had no idea my muscle was like that. But that's about it.

Q. You probably weren't ready to play Wimbledon. Knee probably wasn't right. Where would you say that is now in relationship to what it was just before Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm much further than I was at Wimbledon. I shouldn't have been at Wimbledon. Actually, I didn't really go to Wimbledon, if you ask me, pretty much.

Q. Exactly how is it better? Healed more?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's definitely better. It's feeling a lot better. It's way stronger than what it was. I'm really kind of excited about it because I'm getting a VMO muscle that I didn't really have. It's kind of cool to see.

Q. How do you like your chances coming into this tournament, Serena?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Right now I just think, like I always say every time, it's usually just one match at a time for me. That's the only way I look at it. That's how I've always looked at it since day one. If I didn't like my chances of winning, I wouldn't be here.

Q. How do you rate your preparation coming into this tournament compared to the other Grand Slams that you've won?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had more time to prepare this year because I just took off since October. I've had more time to prepare mentally and much more physically. Preparation's pretty cool. Been here almost a week.

Q. So you don't lower your expectations coming into this because of your injuries?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, if I didn't expect to do well here, I wouldn't be here. It would be better for me to be on the beach, St. Baarts, jet-skis. It would be much easier.

Q. Do you think people question your fitness at their own peril?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I like that. It would be like, "Oh, she's not fit." That's cool with me. Like I said, that's fine because then people will be like, "Okay, well, she won't be able to run." That's a great position to be in.

Q. What was the whole Hong Kong experience like for you? You had to pull out eventually, but you played a little bit. How satisfied were you with your form?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely was satisfied with my form in practice. I was doing a lot better. Each week has definitely been getting better.

Q. How long have you actually been working a hundred percent in practice, training?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been working a hundred percent for quite some time now.

Q. Could you date it? Obviously, you weren't right at Wimbledon.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Kind of depends. Depends on which period you're talking about.

Q. The period leading up into this.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've been working at a hundred percent for quite some time now.

Q. What do you think about your opponent from China?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've always said, everyone talks about the Russians, and I always thought the Chinese have a great slew of players coming up. I think -- I mean, there's so many Chinese players right now. Not only are they in the draw, but they're actually doing well. I'm going to have to really be ready for the match. Definitely not underestimating my opponent at all.

Q. How much do you know about her specifically?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not sure. I think I might have played her, but it might not have been her (smiling).

Q. What kind of things do you learn watching tennis as opposed to playing it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I learn a lot from watching tennis. Like I learn what I should be doing sometimes. Or sometimes if I'm watching a match, I'll be like, "Gosh, I need to be sure I don't do that," especially when I watch film. I, however, do not watch a lot of tennis when I'm out of competition. I'll watch more or less matches that have been played and more film than opposed to live matches.

Q. Watching yourself?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I think it's important to watch yourself. You can learn more of what you need to do. I always focus on me as opposed to the next person.

Q. Have you watched a film of last year's final here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I actually have not watched a film of the final, no.

Q. Any of the matches here last year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've watched a few of the matches. I was shocked I won.

Q. Which ones? Can you remember?

SERENA WILLIAMS: All of them (laughter). Watching, I was like, "Wow, I did that!" It's horrible.

Q. Can you do it again this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You can do anything you set your mind to. I definitely have learned from watching those tapes what not to do. Hopefully I won't be doing that stuff in the matches.

Q. Where does tennis figure now? You have periods where you say you're very focused on acting, the fashion thing. Where does tennis figure in the whole scope of things?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis has always been number one. It's my job. It's what I like to do. I've never really said that acting was more important to me, per se, than tennis, or fashion is more important to me, per se, than tennis. For me, it's always been tennis - always.

Q. Is there any acting things on the go at the moment? Any fashion work at the moment? Is it a hundred percent tennis?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely a hundred percent tennis. I get a lot of offers all the time to do different roles. I consistently turn them down because I'm here at the Australian Open or I have to play next week or the week after. That's my main goal, for sure, is tennis.

Q. As we start the new year, do you set yourself a goal that you'd like to return to No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely set myself goals. I've always criticized Pete Sampras for saying, you know, he wanted to win lots and lots of Grand Slams. It was like, "Don't you want to be the best?" I definitely want to be No. 1 in the world. I can kind of understand what he's saying because there's nothing like winning a Grand Slam. Both the goals are definitely what I want to do, but it all starts with winning the Slams first.

Q. What's the bling?

SERENA WILLIAMS: This is my jewelry line. He just asked me about fashion and designing (laughter). This is my jewelry line. It's really cool because it's like if you want to go out and you don't have anywhere to put your lipstick, you can open it up and then there's like lip gloss. It looks like a really cool piece, like a really cool necklace. It's available at Coles (laughter). I love the colors. I love everything, so... It's really fashionable, and at the same time extremely useful.

Q. Can we expect to see you wearing that on the court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I wore it today to try it out in practice. It's a little heavy on my chest. I don't know. I'm going to try it again tomorrow and make the final decision. It's not looking good. It's not looking so good.

Q. If you put more gloss on your mouth, it might get lighter on your neck.

SERENA WILLIAMS: That's what I was thinking, I might need it in between the matches in case I needed to gloss up the lips. We'll see.

Q. Back to what you learned from watching films, can you share with us an example of what you did learn from watching yourself play?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I learned that I was really playing a lot of defense last year, I was really just behind the baseline. I learned that there were a lot of things that I could do to better that performance. Not only that, the matches here, but just throughout the year. I was looking at some different things, my technical aspect of the game, which my dad really wanted to work with myself on that, some footwork, different footwork drills that we were able to do in the fall, November, December time.

Q. Is this your best chance yet to actually try that out?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, absolutely. It's going to be my best chance. I play, so I look forward to trying it out. Honestly, just staying calm. Like I was looking at the match in the semifinals, and I couldn't believe how calm I was able to stay. I was actually able to learn from that experience as well. I looked so at peace and so calm in my face. That was important for me. Sometimes in practice I get really angry and I get upset. There goes a racquet. But it's important for me to stay calm. I learned some good things to do and things not to do. But it was definitely both ways.

Q. What did you learn not to do?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just said, I was playing too much defense, I was too far behind the baseline, doing some things like that, so...

Q. Was that your greatest win, recovering from adversity last year against Sharapova in the semis?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know if I would say it's my greatest win. I've had some pretty decent wins. I wouldn't put that as the greatest, no.

Q. Where do you put the loss at Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't need to be there. I was really not ready for that tournament. But I somehow made it a little bit. I was lucky to win a round.

Q. What do you think about Martina Hingis being back in the draw?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's exciting to see her back. She was part of our group, like myself and Venus and Anna, just a lot of young kids that kind of came up around the same time. She was always around. Actually kind of missed her when she left. It's really nice to see her back, absolutely.

Q. How tough is it going to be for her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, she has dreams of coming back. I think that she's here, and even making that effort is amazing. She dreams big. I think if you dream big, you can reach lots of goals.

Q. What or who is going to be the biggest obstacle to defending your crown?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think myself. As long as I don't beat myself, I'll be okay.

End of FastScripts….

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