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March 22, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's a long time since we've seen you in action. Could you, for those of us who don't know, give us a rundown of what's happened between Australia and now and what you've been doing and what shape you think you're in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, I've just been training and working out. Got sick for a couple weeks. After that I just recovered and just been practicing pretty much.

Q. Are you in similar shape to Australia or better?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm in a little better shape than Australia.

Q. Talking about Australia, tell us a little bit about your experience in the ladies' Australian Open, and how do you see or how do you feel in this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel good in this tournament. I'm just taking it one match at a time, and that's pretty much it. That's it.

Q. About 11 Russian forces, these players, who will be the special quality or special advantage that you can see on them, on the Russian players, 11 of them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's a lot of them, yeah.

Q. The top half of the draw is you, your sister, Maria. Were you surprised when you saw that part of the draw?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm always in a tough part of the draw, so to me it seems always I'm in the hard part. At the end of the day, you always have to play everybody, and I don't care who I play. I'll be looking forward to playing Sybille.

Q. Sybille, since the Australian Open you haven't had a chance to build momentum from that success. Coming here where you've had so much success in the past, do you feel ready to play your A game to the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm ready to bring my A game and any game, whatever it takes to do well here. Like I said, it's just, you know, going one match at a time.

Q. You've won here three times. What about Miami really brings your best game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's awesome to win here a lot. I've got to do it again. Yeah, I look forward to it.

Q. Does this tournament have a special place in your affections because of 2005? You came back here after quite a lot of time after and you won it. Does it give you a buzz to be back here playing here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a special tournament for me. I played really well there and was just really feeling well. Everything seemed to work out that year, and hopefully it can happen again. Yeah, it was fun.

Q. Any plans while you are not going to be playing, to do in Miami?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, no, I have no plans. I'm just going to be practicing here. It's kind of rainy today so I haven't -- my court was canceled this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to get on later.

Q. How do you like purple courts?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't seen the courts yet. I heard it was a lot of changes. Is it the same color at the US Open, or no?

Q. Different, a little different tone.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Purple used to be my favorite color. Maybe next year it'll be pink.

Q. Have you noticed any changes around here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly I just walked in for the first time, so I haven't seen any changes yet. Media room looks the same.

Q. Do you have in your mind the French Open and trying to do the Grand Slam again?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I definitely have in mind the French Open, but right now I have to focus on the task at hand, and right now it's the Sony Ericsson. French Open is still a little ways away, but it's definitely in my mind, for sure.

Q. How much have you been hitting the last couple weeks and who with?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been hitting a lot, actually, a lot with Venus and my hitting partner. I just get the best practice when I hit with Venus. She's just the best player. She's so solid.

Q. Do you feel you're right where you need to be and ready to go?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never feel I'm right where I need to be. I kind of get that feeling once I start playing. I'm really hard on myself. Yeah, I'm just getting there.

Q. What went into your decision to play Fed Cup, and do you have an eye on the Olympics next year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wanted to play Fed Cup a couple years ago once Zina came coach for the first time, but for some reason I've just never been able to play. Also, since it's in the United States, it's always a much easier choice and a little easier decision. I look forward to playing for Zina and just going with that.

Q. Is part of your thinking, though, to fulfill the requirement that you need to do to play next year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I'd enjoy playing Fed Cup just in general. I would love to go to Beijing. Obviously I think that's just awesome. But I also enjoy playing Fed Cup. It's an opportunity to play for your country and it's pretty cool.

Q. Are you at all disappointed that Justine and Kim decided not to play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought it was going to be a great challenge, great things for the fans, as well, but I guess they couldn't make it. I totally understand.

Q. Once you had the opportunity to ask your sister about if she had to choose another sport instead of tennis which one she would choose, and she said surf. Now I ask you the same question.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would choose to be a rapper. I know it's not a sport, but it kind of feels like a sport.

Q. Why?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because of the sweating you do when you're performing.

Q. Any rapper ideas, maybe a next song?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No (laughing).

Q. What is your best memory in tennis? What you think is the best one?

Q. Yes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Boy, I don't know. That's a very difficult question. I never thought about it. I think one of my best memories in tennis was -- I don't know, maybe watching Jimmy Connors play the US Open. I don't know what year it was. Something like that maybe, yeah. Maybe that whole US Open was a great memory for me.

Q. The last memory of you playing has been really you and Maria in the final where she was the favorite to win the tournament. Do you see yourself as a favorite here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never come into a tournament thinking I'm going to lose. It doesn't matter what the past has been or even if I don't win. I still walk off with a positive attitude.
I always come in thinking I have a good shot, and that's it.

Q. Would you like to speak about this experience with the NASCAR for the TV show?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about it. It's really hot in here. I think I have to wait to talk about it. I don't know if I'm allowed. I'll have to find out, and maybe you can ask me the next time.

Q. If all goes well, do you know what your schedule will be roughly between now and let's say French Open, Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm working on that now. I wanted to pick up a tournament because I missed two, so I wanted to pick up at least one. You know, I'm trying to work on that aspect now. I know I'm playing Berlin.

Q. You are or you're not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I believe I'm entered in it. I hope I'm entered in it because I've already booked my plane ticket to go to Berlin. I might add another clay court event in there somewhere.

Q. After playing so well in Melbourne, did you miss tennis in the month and a half that you haven't played any tournaments?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because I was practicing and training so much, and actually I couldn't wait to get back because to me this is the easiest part and the training is the harder part.
It's like, God, I've got to start playing because it's easier than practicing all these hours and running and all the other stuff.

Q. It's been so long since you and Venus played in a major tournament at the same time. Were you disappointed when you found out you were in the same quarter?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously, yeah. I can be in any quarter as long as it's -- I prefer not to be in hers. Yeah, obviously it's very disappointing. We'll see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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