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January 27, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Of all your eight Grand Slam victories --

Q. -- how does this one rate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: This one is right up there with the top. Even I didn't expect to come in and win it all. I never expected to lose. But, you know, you just always stay so positive. You always go in.
You always think, I'm going to win, I'm going to win. When it really happens, I still can't believe the tournaments over. I feel like there's another match to be played or there's something else.
You know, it's an awesome feeling.

Q. You appeared to be very driven right from the word "go."
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right from "play." I was driven. You know, I've been watching some matches. I was just watching some film. I was just feeling really good about going out there. This morning I woke up -- yesterday I just felt different than what I did at Wimbledon. I just felt different. I felt like, I feel good. I'm happy. I'm confident. I'm not nervous.
You know, at the end of the day I've done well. I've had blisters, I've been sick, I had diarrhea, and I'm still in the final. Whatever the result, I was going to be happy with whatever happened.

Q. Was the plan more about getting you up or upsetting Maria by being so aggressive so early?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My plan was just to play my game. And that's my game. I finally played it for the first time this whole tournament. That's the way I play.
You know, when I'm staying close to the baseline, I'm playing that way, aggressive. That's the way I was raised. My mom and dad taught me to play that game of tennis. For some reason, I stay on the baseline.
But that was Serena that I've been trying to showcase for years and years. I haven't seen my mom.

Q. We have. She's fine.

Q. After you won, you spoke to the camera and said, Thanks for the advice. What was the advice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, there was this one forehand down the line. I just thought about it when I was hitting it because he said, Meka - because he calls me Meka. Meka, when you go down the line, you definitely got to just look at the ball and you got to get your body weight going.
There's this one shot - and I thought every point was important out there - but that one point I thought was really important. I thought about him and I thought about what he told me to do, and for once I was actually able to listen to it, and that really helped out.

Q. Were you surprised that Maria didn't find answers for your impressive game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said from the beginning, when I'm playing well, it's difficult for anyone to beat me - on the women's tour, just for the record (laughter). It's difficult for anyone to beat me because I have a unique style. I have a unique game. You know, tennis is what I think I was born to do.
Like I always said, when I'm playing well, it's difficult. I think she did a good job. She never gave up. Down to the last point, she was fighting. That's always something to be complimented for.

Q. One thing is to beat you; another thing is to be overwhelmed. She was destroyed. Is that surprising you a bit or not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I just went out there, I was focused. You know, I was really focused. I knew what I wanted to do. I'm insatiable. I still think there are things I could have done even better. I knew what I wanted to do when I went out there.
My game plan was to play my game and to stay relaxed. I think if I can do that, then, you know -- like I always say, if I'm playing good, it's hard for anyone. Doesn't matter what they're ranked. As long as they're on the women's tour, doesn't matter who they are, it's tough for them to beat me.

Q. You missed so much tennis over the last year. Was there any point when you were at home you felt there wasn't going to be an opportunity to get back into the winner's circle? Did you ever feel it had gone?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's always times out there where you think, you know, Am I ever going to be looking at another trophy? Especially since I hadn't won a tournament - let alone a Grand Slam - I hadn't won a tournament in a long time. You know, you're thinking about, Wow, will there be another time?
As I said, since day one, my parents, my mom and my dad, have always been so positive. They never stopped believing in me. That helps me believe in me. Venus, as well. I live with her, so I'm with her every day. We always, like, believe in ourselves. You know, it works.

Q. How does this impact your motivation, looking ahead, going forward from here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm ready to start training on the clay already. I know it's too soon. I'm ready for the clay courts. I want to go home. I saw some things here I want to work on, I want to share with my dad. I want ameliorate it, ameliorate my game, take it to a new level. I'm ready to do that now, ready to take my game to a new level.

Q. People have always wondered about the small number of tournaments that you play. When do you next intend playing? Are you going to play any more this year than you have in previous years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely playing more than four tournaments this year. I'm supposed to go to India next, Bangalore, the Sony Ericsson there. I'm so excited. I've never been to India. I heard a lot about it. I really look forward to going there. For some reason, I'm really happy to go there. I'm going to India, then Dubai, a couple tournaments after that.
My schedule is not filled, but my schedule is very practical because I'm not high on the exempt list, if you know anything about that. My schedule is really practical. My goal is to stick to it and just make it happen this year.

Q. What will you do to celebrate your win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, I'm going to spend some time with my family, maybe some other things. I don't know. I haven't thought about it much yet.

Q. You talked about your focus. How much of that focus came from the memory of your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, she was -- every day I write notes, you know, from my match. Not every day, but every match I wrote notes. Today my note was just Yetunde. That was all my notes. That's it.
Usually I write, Look at the ball, move forward, do this, do that. Today I just had one word. You know, every changeover I looked at it and I just thought about how happy she would have been, you know, how much she always supported me.
I just thought about what an amazing sister she was to me. I just said, Serena, this has to be motivating. This has to be more than enough to motivate me, and I think it was.

Q. How long can you carry that through your career?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I just think it's obviously long-term. She's gone forever. I just -- that's not the only thing I get power from. Like I said, I prayed - not to win. I never pray to win; I just pray to be strong, just help me there. I just think I derive a lot of power just from my heart.
I don't know.

Q. You mentioned before you used to speak after matches. There was a nice line about when you spoke to her after the French Open, when you had beaten somebody.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I beat this girl. I don't remember, it was a long time ago at the French Open. She said, Wow, Serena, you played so well. You beat her like she stole something. I was just laughing because I had never heard that expression before. I was just laughing so hard.
I have so many good memories of my sister. Obviously, she was -- I remember just so many, so many things from her. That's just one of the things that stick out. She was always so happy for me and Venus. She would come travel with us with her kids sometimes. You know, we had so many unbelievable memories. I take solace in those memories.

Q. Do you remember who you beat so heavily that time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember that. I just remember calling her. She was so happy. She was obviously proud. You know, she was an awesome sister. She's the best.

Q. The time between now and the finish of your match, can you tell us about what you did? Did you let yourself enjoy the moment in some way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was really excited. After the match, I did a little dance. I had to do some media, you know, one-on-one interviews. I went to do a drug test, which held me up a little bit. I think, yeah, shower and stuff, yeah.

Q. So, no, you didn't allow yourself to celebrate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I feel like -- I mean, I know it's over, but it's like I still feel like there's more. Maybe that's for the next tournament. Maybe that's for the French Open. I don't know. I feel like I got to go out and play some more. Feels like I have to come back tomorrow and play another match.
I've got to get that feeling out of my mind. I've got to just like release that. I need to do that now.

Q. Are you going to call Sybille Bammer and tell her, See what I'm capable of?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She was capable of a lot, too. I'm glad I didn't have to play her in this tournament. That's for sure.

Q. Watching Federer and González play in their semifinals, have comprehensive wins, is that a good reminder --
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, those wins that -- Federer played Roddick and crushed him. It's not that he crushed him, it's that he played so well. And then González and Tommy, I mean, González played so well. I thought they played good. I figured if they can do it, I can do it, too.

Q. We didn't see two great men's semifinals here. The women's final was a little bit one-sided. What do you expect for the men's final? Will it be different or not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know about you, but I saw two great men's semifinals. I saw the No. 1 player beat the 'H-E double hockey sticks' out of another player. I saw Fernando González beat the 'H-E double hockey sticks' out of another player. Those were great matches. Today you saw the No. 81 player win a great final (smiling).
Those were great matches. Those guys played great. Those were great matches to me. I don't know about to you, but as a player, being in the "industry," I thought they were incredible matches.

Q. Of the seven matches you played, when were you in the most trouble?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm. I was pretty down and out in Petrova's match and Shahar Peer. They were really playing well. I lost the first set in both of those matches. I just had to like come back physically - contrary to popular belief - and mentally. That really helped out. So those two matches. I don't know which one.
But thank God I went through that because, you know, I was able to go through a rough road before I got to the final.

Q. Do you think the means of today's win will make it hard for Sharapova to beat you down the track in a big match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sharapova is probably going to go home right now and train on some things and she's going to never want this to happen again - as I wouldn't either. Whether it was 7-5, 7-5, if she had lost, she would still go home and train, as I would as well. I'm going to do the same thing because I know someone whose name is not Sharapova, like some other 'ova,' and they're 12 years old in Russia, or wherever they're from, and they are playing hard to get ready for me. That's what I'm going to go train for.

Q. You said, 'physically, contrary to the public opinion.'
SERENA WILLIAMS: Popular belief.

Q. You say also you don't read the papers. Where does this public opinion come from?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, you hear things. You hear things.

Q. When Roger came in here the other night, even after that match, even after beating the 'H-E double hockey sticks' out of Andy, he talked about fear and doubt before the match. Do fear and doubt play any role in your thinking before a match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think every athlete has fear naturally. You know, there's always some doubt in your mind maybe. But, uhm, I think that's just the role of an athletic individual. You're going to have a little fear, you know. I was going up against the No. 1 player in the world. Of course, you know, it was like, Okay, she's No. 1. What am I going to do? He was going up against a good player, as well.
I think that's definitely natural.

Q. Will you read the newspapers tomorrow? Are you afraid to have a big head?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe. I don't know. I haven't decided yet. I have to wait to see.

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