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March 27, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After what happened in Australia, did you really think you could come back with another emphatic victory against Maria today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I know if I'm playing well then anything can happen. You know, I believe there could be a similar score if I'm playing well.

Q. Did you expect it to be quite that easy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Haven't you learned that I expect the best of myself already? I mean, I expect nothing less.

Q. Is it simply that you just figured her game out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I know her game pretty well. We've played each other a few times, and I like her game style, yeah. But, you know, next time it's going to be another tough battle.
It's not going to be easy. I'm not going to go in there thinking, I've already won this. Not at all.

Q. When you hold your index finger up in the air, does that mean you're No. 1, if not in the ranking but in practice right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not hitting well in practice. I'm definitely not No. 1 in practice.

Q. The de facto No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Every time I do that I win, so I'm a little superstitious. I'm working towards getting to be the best. It's an uphill battle.

Q. You were also saying something, I'm not a great lip reader so I was going to ask you what you were saying.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember. I don't even remember saying anything.

Q. Is this possibly the next great rivalry do you think between you and Sharapova?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, there's a lot of rivalries with her, and there's a lot of other players on the tour, as well, that's playing unbelievable tennis.

Q. Suspensions, just to veer off, we wanted to get your thoughts on suspensions. We were listening to Larry Scott earlier, and he spoke about suspensions for, I guess, pulling out of tournaments. The question was asked: Does it apply to players who are age 30 or approaching age 30 or in cases like with --

Q. Not that you're approaching 30, but younger players like yourself as well as older players as well as players with special circumstances, such as Amélie.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't had a chance to talk to Larry about it. I've been here every day, and we're supposed to have a sit down and a powwow about it, but I haven't had a chance.
So I look forward to talking to him at least an hour about it so I can be updated with everything. I don't want to make any comments until I'm knowledgeable about it.

Q. Can you describe - because obviously I've never been in your position - what does it feel like to be on the court and be dominating a match the way that you've done the last few times with Maria? Can you articulate what that feels like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: For me it feels like, Okay, stay focused. I never think about, I'm winning. It's easy. No, because every point, Maria is a fighter. She doesn't give up. So every point it's like you've got to win and you can't just say, I'm winning so easy.
I just always think about, Okay, I won that game, now let me focus again. I try to stay focused more than -- I never even think about dominating.

Q. How much was this match a statement, or how much satisfaction do you take out of this match that Australia wasn't just a one-off when you came out here and beat her worse than Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think a lot of people might have thought it was a one-off. I don't know anyone who's won eight Grand Slams and had so many doubters in their lives. I guess just me (laughter). It's okay.

Q. Did your father have anything useful to say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, he just said, Stay relaxed. More than anything he wanted me to stay relaxed, and that's what I wanted to do when I told him how I felt.
I said, I don't feel like I'm doing everything I want to do. I'm not doing it right. He said, That's okay, just stay positive.

Q. Are you feeling under appreciated when you say that many doubters?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'll have to think about it. We'll have to have a sit down.

Q. Why do you think there are so many doubters? What do you think people think of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know what people think about me. You know, I just -- the only thing I would care for me for people to think about me is I have a great attitude and I'm always positive and I'm a great sportsperson.
More than anything I'm a good person off the court, and I think that's what matters more than anything.

Q. You said in Australia you needed a mental break. Can you expound on that a little, how you needed a break?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would love to expound on that, but I'm hot and I think I've talked about it a lot. No offense, but I just had an injury and I had a physical break, and because of it I got a mental break that I never had before. But that's basically what I said.

Q. Was there any emotional hangover of any kind for you because of that incident yesterday? Did you spend time thinking about it last night, or was it over once you left the grounds?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it was over once the match was over.

Q. How much fitter are you now than Australia? You looked great out there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like I'm running better. I'm moving a lot better. Still not on the level that I would like to move, but I'm not -- I'm still trying to work my way up into the clay court season, which will be next week. You have to be extremely fit to play on the clay.

Q. Did you find Maria's double faulting a little bit distracting today, or did you just think to stay focused?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely was not distracting (laughing). I don't think anyone who double faults is distracting. More than anything it's an easy point to win, so yeah.

Q. Can you describe to a non-bling expert what those earrings are, what they're made of, and if they're heavy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You would have to refer to the LL Cool J song called "Round The Way Girl," and he explains it in full detail, the meaning of the earrings. These are bamboo. He explains it in full detail. I'm a Round The Way Girl.

Q. Do you think you could be the Federer of the women's tour, or do you feel that you are?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, that would be awesome. Roger Federer has done an unbelievable job with not only being No. 1 but staying there and just being the best. He's so inspirational. That would be awesome if I could do that.

Q. What would you have to do to do that? What's the difference between where you are now and what you'd have to do to do that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess I'd have to stay injury-free. I don't think that guy ever gets injured. If I could do that, then that would be awesome.

Q. What is all the wrist tape for? I haven't seen you this taped off.
SERENA WILLIAMS: This is my Warrior Pepe look.

Q. But seriously.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, just for prevention. You know, I'm approaching 30 (laughter). I'm almost you guys' age, so I have to tape my wrists.

Q. Is there anything wrong with your wrists?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's little tweaks in there, but as long as it's taped I don't feel anything. It's mostly for prevention so I can get through the whole two, three sets, whatever, four hours.

Q. Do you worry about -- this was obviously an emotional match. You talked yesterday about the intensity of when you play Maria. Do you worry at all about a letdown for the next round? How do you keep yourself motivated?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, it's easy because Nicole Vaidisova is good player, and she's, what, No. 6 in the world or something like that.
Here I go again. I have to play another Top 10 player who's playing great tennis. This is a win; this isn't the finals. I have to be ready for the next round.

Q. I understand Florida is being considered your home court because you guys live here, and scanning the seats I saw a huge group of supporters who were spelling out your name. Would that happen to be extended family, especially since you're home?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't see them. That's awesome. It's always great to have supporters. I've been here so long in Florida, it's crazy. It's definitely home.

Q. Are you disappointed that in the Fed Cup you and Venus could have been playing Clijsters and Henin but they pulled out, and it looks on the surface it's going to be fairly one-sided. Do you have any thoughts about Henin and Clijsters and should they have competed for Belgium?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think playing Fed Cup is a personal choice, and it's hard to play this tournament and Charleston and possibly Amelia and then Fed Cup and then all the other clay court events right after that. It takes a lot out of you.
I'm playing because I want to play, and I think -- maybe they're injured. You never know what's going on with someone. I encourage them to do what they want to do. Whatever they want to do, that's what they should do.

Q. You went to Africa last year, I believe. Kerry Washington, she was filming "The Last King of Scotland." Talked about landing in Africa and being sort of nervous, like she felt if she didn't feel anything, what would that say about her. And I was wondering if you could relate to that and how that experience did change you maybe?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt so excited to land. I couldn't wait. When we first landed we had a layover in Nigeria, and I couldn't wait. I wanted to get out of the plane and just take off my shoes and start running and never come back, because I just felt at home and at ease.
I mean, I've never felt so comfortable physically and just like mentally and just -- I can't even explain it. It's like this whole aura that just surrounds you. That's just how I felt.
I've never been in a place where I felt happier ever.

Q. Is that the closest you've come to how you feel on the tennis court when everything is going beautifully? Is there any kind of --
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I've never thought about that analogy, but I'll have to think about it.

Q. Get back to us.

Q. You had a layover in Nigeria. Where did you go from there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We went to Ghana.

Q. Accra?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, Accra. It was really beautiful.

Q. So much is happening, speaking of Africa. Major League Baseball is doing stuff over there, Oprah opened a school. Any ideas for doing anything in Africa, or you haven't gotten to that point yet?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I had a meeting with the president of Senegal, President Wade, and I'm going to open a school in Senegal, which is really exciting. He donated the land to me, and so I just have to build it.
It's going to be an educational school because some kids can't afford to go to school and they just are running the streets with no hope. If I can provide one kid with hope and the little hope that my parents were able to provide for me, even if it's just one person, it makes a whole big difference in life.

Q. Any date or when it might be ready?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know yet. I'm playing Miami right now.

Q. Would that be a joint project with Venus?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have not discussed that with her yet.

Q. You're going to do it --
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm sure if she wanted to join in, she'd probably build her own school because it's not that expensive to build, and it's such a great opportunity to help people.

Q. After what happened yesterday did you have any thoughts today when you went on the court about something like what happened to Monica Seles or anything like that? Did you have any of those fears after what happened yesterday?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, what happened to Monica was awful, but ever since then the security has been extremely tight, and every year it gets more tight and more tight. I have an orange belt in Tae Kwon Do just in case (laughter).

Q. Is the heart necklace special in any way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just found it. It was laying out in my room, and I was like, Oh, I'll wear this because I decided to wear gold earrings and I couldn't wear a white gold necklace, so I had to find a gold necklace.

Q. You've taken Maria just out of the match from the get-go the last few times you've played her, and I've seen you struggle with other players along the way. So is it something that you get an extra motivation going into that match? It's a good matchup for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just think Maria is a good player and she's done a lot in her young career, and you can't just start flat against a player like her as opposed to -- you can't really start flat against anyone nowadays, but especially against Maria you can't come out flat or else you're going to go in the locker room within 30 minutes.

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