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August 30, 2006

Serena Williams

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena, please.

Q. Strong start. Happy with the way things went today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, yeah, I'm definitely satisfied with the way everything went today, yes.

Q. If Hantuchova wins her match, you face her. Would that be sort of a revenge match for you in light of what happened in Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, couple weeks ago, it was good. You know, so I play her again. So if she wins... Bethanie's doing much better on the tour right now. She's no pushover. We'll just have to see.

Q. Does is motivate you, meeting her in the second round, somebody that beat you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't think about that. I just think about this is a new tournament. She has new goals, I have new goals. She's gonna play hard, I'm gonna play hard. Like I said, you have to see who gets there.

Q. What is your mindset right now? You seem pretty motivated out there. Can you just talk about where you are as far as your desire to win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, my desire is probably as high as it ever was probably even higher. Yeah, it's definitely it's fun to be out there. I really enjoy it, like I've been saying the past few weeks. It's awesome.

Q. Was there an aspect of your game that you were most pleased with, and an aspect that you want to work on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, I was trying to stay on the baseline, not get too far back. I was able to do that pretty consistently throughout, you know, 'cause she hit a really high ball. If I would have been far back, she would have got the best of me. It was important I stuck with that game.

Q. You just spent a week with Nick Bollettieri. Can you talk about that preparation, whether you intend to keep working with him.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I went to Bollettieri's for a week with Nick and my dad. Nick and my dad work great together. They feed off each other. It's a great team. They make a really good team. I kind of wanted to go and just get some extra practice with some extra guys. It worked well.
I love Nick. He's a great guy. You know, he always knows what to say to get me motivated.

Q. Since this is the US Open and there are so few household American players these days, are there any American players in the women's division you keep an eye out on that you've been impressed with?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, outside of like Lindsay Davenport?

Q. Except the usual household names, are there any up and comers?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think Vania King is doing pretty well. I just heard of her when I was in LA, playing that tournament there. I think she has a very bright future. I think Jamea Jackson is a real fighter. I think she has a lot going for her in that aspect. I also like Shenay Perry.

Q. Of all the matches you played in your career, what was the best you felt on court, one or two matches where everything felt like it was working?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I hate that question.

Q. I'm sorry.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have to think back in the banks. I have to go down the shelves and look.
I played really good a few times at Wimbledon. Played really good one year here (laughing), I think '02. I don't know.

Q. Who was it against, do you remember?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, no, I can't remember.

Q. Usually try to make a fashion statement here. Today, what was that statement today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean?

Q. He's saying describe the dress. Was it an Asian influence?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was an Asian influence. We wanted to do something that has the Asian influence, because we see it's a lot of. Going into this fashion season, it's a lot. Purple is a really hot color this fall. I just bought a purple dress from Herve Leger, one of my favorite designers.
We wanted to look at the inside of that. We wanted to go with something that was a deep royal purple and had these Asian influence, had kind of like the Asian trees on the dress. I wanted to keep the silhouette of the dress really simple because of the designs that was on it. It would have been too much, I thought, if we had had a flarey dress or anything.
When, I was designing it, I was like, We need to keep the silhouette really simple and just have the fabric and the pattern do all the talking. So, yeah, I liked it a lot.

Q. Was there a dragon on the back, a red dragon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don't remember. We design these so far ahead in advance. I have to go inside and look at it. I know it's I don't remember. I don't think it is a dragon, but I don't want to be quoted on that.

Q. Are you going to make an appearance at the MTV VMAs tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I won't be at the VMAs. I'm going to be at here, playing really tough tennis. I won't be anywhere else but right here.

Q. Do you feel you've regained your physical condition the way you want it to be, and how difficult was it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm definitely more physically fit than what I've been in the past. I always am looking to get more fitter. I think no matter how fit I am, I feel like I can go a little bit better.

Q. Was it hard, difficult? How far out of shape were you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Everyone has their ups and downs. Everyone's in and out of shape.

Q. Are you like working out hours and hours and hours? Can you just sort of describe...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Unfortunately, yeah.

Q. In the gym, out of the gym? What are you doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's just... In the gym I was doing I would never really tell you everything I do. I was at the pool sipping lemonade, that way everyone else will do that.

Q. When you talked about the dress, the nuances, you seemed real animated and with it. Do you find fashion, truth be told, more intriguing than tennis these days?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, God, no. Fashion is so hard. It's like you just you never know what's gonna happen. I love it, don't get me wrong. I love designing. I love wearing things that I sat down and had a part of and came up with the concepts for. It's exciting.
But, you know, it's hard. It's a hard business to be in. Like Heidi Klum says, "Some days you're in, the next you're out."

Q. You mentioned Bethanie. She came out on court at Wimbledon with quite an outfit, with the soccer socks.

Q. What did you think of that outfit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hey, you know, I have nothing against soccer socks. I think they're really sexy. I think they're really cool. Her outfit was really interesting. Now, she has way more out there outfits than I have. But she's having some fun with some different things.

Q. You made some candid comments recently about trying to cope with your personal, your family loss over the last year. When you look back now, a lot of athletes deal with pain by trying to beat it instead of process it. Do you think that's what you were trying to do when you look back a little bit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, that's that's something I really don't talk about too much. But I definitely think I think in general, whether you're working or you're writing or whatever you are, you just kind of pour yourself into your work more and then, you know, keep your mind off of things.

Q. You mentioned the other day the best way to keep Arthur Ashe's memory alive would be to make a movie on him. I'm curious, have you been approached or would you be interested in playing Althea Gibson?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's a good question. Uhm, sorry. I went blank. I don't understand how you tied Arthur Ashe in there.

Q. You mentioned the best way to keep his legacy alive. Many people forgot about Althea Gibson. She was the first African American to win it. You are an actress. Would you be interested in portraying her to let this generation know who she was and what she did?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'd would be really interested. I'd have to learn how to hit a solid one handed backhand. I have a good one hand. That would be a good project for me.

Q. To remind you about the Africa project. We know your mom is interested. She's been to visit us in Africa many times. You had promised here years ago you would like to visit Africa. What is your position on that? Is that still on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I want to go to Africa right now more than I want to go anywhere because I've never been there. It's motherland. I really want to go there, so, again, working on it.

Q. What's your fitness compared to last year coming in here? How would you say it compares?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don't remember how it was last year. I don't remember like my fitness level or anything like that.

Q. Your knee seemed to be bothering you toward the end of the match.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, my limit was an hour. I could play an hour. My knee would start hurting. When that first set went an hour, I knew my US Open was done.

Q. And this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: This year is totally different story. I'm at six hours.

Q. Last few months you've been away a lot. A lot of the Chinese players have really come up. What do you make of the Chinese surge?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was the one who always said everybody's talking about the Russians but these Chinese women are coming along, too. I always said it.
I think they're doing again, I think they're really good. I think they have especially with the Beijing Olympics, I think that maybe they're pushing tennis a lot. I think they're awesome players. Really have to watch out for them.

Q. Do you buy into it when people say the American juniors aren't hungry enough, and that's why they're not coming up as quick as the other countries?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's someone out there who's working at it right now. I don't know where they are. I don't know who they are. They're gonna come up and they're gonna be US Open champ one day.

Q. On the men's side we've seen Andre Agassi drop down to 141 and make it back to No. 1 in the world. Do you ultimately think you can make that same climb back to the top?

Q. What makes you feel that way?

Q. The way you played in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, getting to the semifinals, do you draw confidence? You're able to get out on the hard courts with the knee injury and everything, really get back to form. You're almost there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely feeling you know, Cincinnati I was down here, and LA I was down here. And I'm just each week I'm getting better and better. I played really well in Cincinnati. I played better in LA. I'm already playing better here. That was my plan.

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