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January 17, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. So can we have a progress report?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Progress report: Improvement, still working on some things, need to stay more focused.

Q. Is that what you didn't like?

Q. What did you like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm, I like that I was out there.

Q. You served pretty well. Your serves kept you in some matches, huh?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my serve is doing better. It's doing really good.

Q. What was the difference in the first and second sets?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I got a little bit off to a slow start in the first set, and then I was making a tremendous amount of errors. I just couldn't get the balls in for some reason. And the second set I was making more shots and I was playing just more -- what I had planned, more of the game that I had practiced.

Q. What do you mean by focus? You weren't focused in the first set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was definitely focused or I think I would have lost the first set. I think I lost a little focus like when I was up 4-Love in the second. I started daydreaming. I'm too experienced to daydream at that stage of a match.

Q. So the next match is obviously a step up. You're playing a top five player. Just talk about that and how you feel going in.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely a step up. I feel excited to go into the match. I feel ready, and yeah...

Q. Do you remember the last time you played her here two years ago, three sets?

Q. Well, talk about her game, though.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she has a really solid game, and she's been doing nothing but moving forward and improving her ranking and her style and her play. She's no slouch, for sure.
She's always posed a good challenge for me. You know, I know her game. It's always good to play someone that you know their game and you know what to expect and you know what to do, so that's good going into this third-round match.

Q. You've played almost an hour, and suddenly you played a serve and volley point and you won the point. Then you missed another one later on, but will there be more of that do you think?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I truly hope so. I've always been a very solid doubles player. I have great volleys and I have great approach shots. So I don't know how I became a baseliner. Somewhere along the line I just liked the baseline. But I also like to volley, too. A very solid volleyer.

Q. It was a long wait. I kept waiting.
SERENA WILLIAMS: You and me both. I said, If I can do it, I've got to come to the net more than just to shake my opponent's hand. So we'll try it again tomorrow -- next time I play.

Q. It was a year ago the third round was Hantuchova and now it's Petrova. How do you compare the challenge of playing Petrova versus Hantuchova?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely excited to play Petrova. I think Petrova's ranking obviously is a little higher and she's had a few more stellar results, so I think that would be the difference.

Q. Your mom said, I think it was last week, that she thinks you're a little bit rusty. Do you still feel a little bit rusty?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was feeling a little bit -- actually a lot in Hobart. I felt a little rusty today when I was hitting a lot of balls out, but I've got to shake it off.

Q. Can it happen that quickly?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, at this point I have no other choice and no other option. So yeah, I've got to move forward with it.

Q. How different is it being in the locker room and Lindsay is not there and Venus is not there? You're getting to be one of the older ones there. Does it feel different now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm pretty much ancient (laughter). Basically ready to have grandkids (laughter). I'm almost your age (laughter).

Q. Some people feel that it's best to keep their emotions intact, like Borg or someone, and you surface your emotions pretty well. Does that serve you well, getting your feelings out? When we're filming you or looking at you, you're pretty expressive.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm an emotional person. I mean, on and off the court I'm extremely emotional. I'm crying in the movies. I'm crying, you know, just -- just sympathy. I was watching Prison Break and I almost started crying. I am a really emotional person. So it's no surprise to me that on the court I do tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, so to say.
But it can work against you and it can work for you, and that's one thing I've always admired about Venus is you can never tell she's down or she's up. She's just going steady, and I've always loved that. I've been trying to make it work for me more than anything.

Q. Has Venus always been that way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's always been that way, whether she's sad or she's happy. She's kind of just like monotone sometimes. When she gets on the court, sometimes she gets really pumped and it's really exciting to watch. But I just think it's amazing, those players that can just stay positive and -- you know, it messes with your mind.

Q. Did she have a better record when you guys played matches as a kid?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Never, and my hand always sweated more than hers, so it often fell a lot more than hers. That's the only reason my racquet slips.

Q. Could you see yourself playing, say, 15 tournaments this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I don't think I've ever played -- maybe once or twice. No, I'm not going to play 15 tournaments.

Q. 12 maybe?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's more practical. For me it's about playing each tournament and doing well and that way you don't have to play 32 tournaments or 20 tournaments a year. That's never been my style.
My goal is to play probably 12 or 13 and just solid, and that's plenty for me. Because I like to go into each tournament really serious and really focused, and, you know, that's the way I think it should be done.

Q. But at this stage, given the fact you haven't been able to play frequently as the last few years, could you see yourself playing every month up until the end of the year so you don't have to take so much time off and then come back again?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely see myself playing every month -- maybe not in December -- but a couple tournaments each month or one -- at least averaging one a month, but I would probably average more than that. That's practical. But for me to play three tournaments a month, nine months, is -- it's not going to happen.

Q. How hard is it to restore the focus?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it's not hard. I think if you want something bad enough, it's just there. For me it hasn't been that hard.

Q. Then you do want something?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I want it all.

Q. The dress you wore in round one, a great number of the tournament officials haven't come up and said you're not allowed to wear it, have they?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm not allowed to wear it anymore. I might just be bad and put it on again, though.

Q. Are there any athletes, either in tennis or out of tennis, that you kind of look to for inspiration as you try to get back to the top?

Q. In or out of tennis.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've always admired Monica Seles. I've always thought she was not only a great player but a class act. You know, to go through what she went through and to come back -- I've always said Monica came back. She won several tournaments in a row and she wasn't rusty at all, and that is always someone that I look at when I was off for a little while. I think if she can do it, it motivates me to be able to do it, as well, and of course Michael Jordan.

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