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January 26, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Have you looked any more into the allegations that someone in your camp was flashing sunlight off their watch into your opponent's face yesterday?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I don't know why there were so many stories about that. I found it quite funny. My whole career I've been a professional player. The young man is a close friend of mine. He's a fan of tennis. He plays himself. He's been wearing that watch every day. I think everyone in the stands wears a watch.
It's just crazy. I don't know why there's even stories about it.

Q. It wasn't deliberate on his part?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, why would it be? There's absolutely no reason for that to happen. I just think it's another story for people to fabricate and run off on. There's always something like that.

Q. Who is he?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just a good friend of mine. I've known him for several years, since he's been like 12 years old. He's Aussie.

Q. He travels with you quite a bit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. He just always comes to the Australian Open because he's Aussie. He came. He visited America for the first time a couple years ago. We had a lot of fun.

Q. What is his name?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think all that is necessary. I just think it's crazy that this was even brought up. There's so many watches. There's so many people in the stands that wear watches and things like that. It's just completely outrageous. It's silly. Come on. It's always something. This is just another thing.

Q. If we accept the allegations are pretty stupid, would you have a chat to him and say take the watch off just to avoid the nonsense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't see why he should take it off. No one saw the glare. I never saw the glare. If anything, it would have affected me. I never saw the glare. Vaidisova said she never saw the glare. What more is there to say?
As of now, I'm not answering any more questions about a god-dang watch. This is stupid. Is there any more questions you want to ask me?

Q. Watch notwithstanding, is nice to be back in this position?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, what did you say (laughter)?

Q. Apart from this line of inquiry, you've been here a while, is it nice to be back in that rhythm?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's nice to be back in the Grand Slam final. I'm playing really hard. I'm fighting really hard. It's awesome to be back.

Q. You said you were going to try to watch the match last night.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't catch it. Maybe I didn't need to. I got to see some other tennis, so that was good.

Q. Do you still get nervous before a Slam final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right now I'm not nervous. I'm just relaxed. I've gotten nervous before, don't get me wrong, in a Grand Slam final. Today is the day before. Right now I'm not nervous at all. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Q. Do you like to be by yourself, loud music, padded room?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I like to be by myself. I like to just sit in my room, try to watch a movie or something. Just try to stay and relax all day in the room.

Q. By Monday Maria will be the world No. 1 player. Does it give it any more value to beat her tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It will be awesome regardless to win. Whether I was playing her or anyone else, it would be awesome to win because she would be No. 1. Obviously that makes it a lot more fun. Either way, it's still exciting to be here. It's just awesome.

Q. You spoke yesterday about the self-belief you have in yourself as a player. You know what kind of player is Maria. When you look forward to tomorrow, do you think if you do the things you need to do that you'll win regardless?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I've always said, I think if I play well, if I play my game, do what I can do, it's hard for anyone to beat me. I got to make sure I'm playing well. Sometimes I have a tendency to shank a few balls, to miss-hit, not be on. If I'm on, it's tough.

Q. How absolute is that? Do you feel the game is essentially won or lost depending on what you were doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That would be a fair assessment. But Maria's playing really well. I thought she played excellent yesterday. That's how you have to do. Champs always pick it up in the last two rounds. She's shown she was able to do that. We have to see.

Q. What is your relationship with Bollettieri these days?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Nick and I, he's a great guy. I've always looked up to him. I've always listened to his advice that he gives me. I'll sometimes go to Bollettieri to play and to practice. He tells me some things. My dad always goes there with me, as well. I think that would be our relationship.

Q. When you see the improvements in Maria's game the last couple years, obviously she was a very good athlete when she beat you in 2004 at Wimbledon, do you see their being more strength about her, stamina about her on the tennis court now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I mean, she's absolutely improved since 2004. She's definitely playing a lot better, more consistent more than anything.

Q. You obviously have a great sense of belief. When you lost in Tasmania, could you envisage being in the final of the Australian Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was really upset that I lost. Maybe it was for the best because I was able to come here. The weather was warmer here. In Tasmania, it was really cold. I was able to come here and enjoy some warm weather. Maybe it was for the best.

Q. Was your pride stung a little bit, as well?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I believe so. I was really angry. I just felt like I should have won. These girls are treeing on me. It was really frustrating. Like I said, maybe it was 'divine intervention,' I don't know.

Q. What are your ambitions beyond this tournament? Do you hold dreams of being No. 1 again? If you do get there, would you appreciate it more than the first time you were No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I have a lot of goals, ambitions. I never say them out loud because I usually jinx myself. I do have some very high goals and I do envision myself getting there. Would I enjoy it more? Maybe. Maybe. I just think any time I'll always enjoy it.

Q. Same time last year you lost to Daniela Hantuchova here, what was going through your mind? How did you feel?

Q. Yes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I wasn't really here last year mentally at all. I probably shouldn't have came.

Q. Do you remember watching videos of the Serena Slam era, thinking 'Wow'?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I actually watched some film. I was watching the French Open once. I thought, wow, I thought I played pretty mediocre in some matches. Even the commentators were like, Serena wasn't at her best today but she was able to pull it through. I could totally see it. I could totally see the room for improvement.

Q. You also said this tournament you haven't played your best tennis. What do you think has gotten you through?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think my stamina, my mental ability, my sheer desire. I played a couple good matches, but I definitely haven't peaked. Like I always say, I got to wait till I get to the finals to peak hopefully. Hopefully that's what I'm doing.

Q. How much fitter are you now than you were in Tasmania two or three weeks ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely am more fit now 'cause I had a little more time to do some off-court stuff after Tasmanian. Playing some long matches here, I don't know how much.

Q. You got no sore spots?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think whenever you've come back, you take two or three weeks off from not playing matches, you're still practicing, you go to a match, you get sore because in matches you do things totally different from when you're at practice. In Tasmania I was a little sore because I hadn't had the match play. After that went away...

Q. In your opinion, which is the best match you ever played?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would have to go through the memory banks and see. I don't know offhand. I think I played a really good match at Wimbledon one year. I think it was against Lisa Raymond. That was like a great match, so.

Q. This obviously isn't the first time you've come back after a layoff. Do you go through this rhythm in anything else in life, where you take time off, for whatever reason have time off from a pursuit, come back, find you still have this level of aptitude?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I used to play the guitar. I'm still trying to work on my comeback with that. Only other thing would be acting obviously because I don't have enough time to do it 'cause I'm always playing tennis, practicing, trying to keep a schedule. That would be the only other thing. Not really.

Q. Do you think this might be part of a bigger general personality thing with you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I think last year I wasn't able to play just for physical reasons. I don't think it had anything to do with personality really.

Q. You said yesterday you planned your schedule out. Can you tell us how many tournaments you're aiming to play this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've only filled out my schedule for the first half of this year. I don't know how many tournaments are on that first half. I think up until Wimbledon. I think I'm done with that. I don't know offhand like how many there are. It's not too many, it's not too few at all. It's a good schedule for me, a very conceivable schedule.

Q. Will it alter your plans whether you win or lose here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: By no means, no. Not at all.

Q. Maria said yesterday you were playing as if you had nothing to lose. Do you agree with that assessment?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't have anything to lose. That's always fun. I've had a lot of comebacks in this tournament. I went from rock bottom to, 'Hey, there she is again.'
At the end of the day, I don't have anything to lose. But I try to play every tournament like that. Even when I was in the top five or whatever the case was, I always tried to play like this.

Q. What part of Maria's game can give you the most trouble tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: All parts of it.

Q. Including?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Including a lot of parts (smiling).

Q. You see what Roger Federer is doing in the men's game. Do you ever think in your ambitions there you'd like to maybe get somewhere like that in the women's?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that would be the ultimate experience. He's definitely like a role model to me.

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