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March 28, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Serena, you're 3-4 down in the second set, you're love-40 down, you're serving and you just take a little pace off your first serve, and you get five consecutive first serves in, and you hold. That was huge, wasn't it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was smart more than anything. My first serve percentage was really low up until that point. And I looked on the screen, I could see I was in the 40's at one point. So it was like okay, this is crazy. And I guess I thought okay, well, maybe I should get some first serves in and see what happens if I do that.

Q. What were you expecting from Nicole? She played you pretty tough there. When it was 3-3, it was quite a battle until you started running away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she did play me tough. I was expecting her to play exactly the way she played me in the second set. That's what I was expecting for the match, so I think when her coach came out, maybe he told her some things to try, and I just -- I don't know. I don't know what happened, really. I started making errors.

Q. You play Shahar Peer tomorrow night, and I'm wondering if you could talk about her. You have an interesting history. And her progression as you see it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's made a lot of great progress. She's doing excellent out there. We're both really fighting for a position in the finals.

Q. Do you remember playing her? It was her first major a couple of years ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I played her here a couple of years ago, yeah.

Q. Did you learn anything from the Australian Open match about her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I learned -- I definitely learned a lot. I think she learned a lot, and going into the semifinal, we both have gotten this far, we're going to try to take it one more step.

Q. Serena, you're probably aware of the new mandatory, four mandatory events that players will be asked to play, Top 10 players, beginning in 2009. One of them is Indian Wells, and a tournament that you and your sister don't care to play for personal reasons. Your father yesterday said that if the WTA tried to suspend you for not playing there, if that's your choice, that he'll go to court. He's willing to consider legal action. How do you feel about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I need to have a sit-down and pow-wow with Larry Scott because we haven't had a chance to talk about it. But I can guarantee you the chances of getting me to Indian Wells are slim to none, unless -- I'm not going to go back. I have no interest in going. It's just how I feel. And I think anyone that went through what I went through would feel a similar position.

Q. You spoke about coaching, and at some point things took a turn once the coach came out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I love your earrings. Are they hearts?

Q. Yes, $5.

Q. You spoke about coaching, and once the coach came out, things took a turn. Remind us of your feelings about on-court coaching, and when that happens, does that break your stride? Do you have to regroup, because kind of after that, things did kind of take a turn?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't like on-court coaching. I hate it. The only reason I use it is because I may as well. I don't want my opponent to have an advantage.
But I think it takes away from the integrity of tennis. I mean, for hundreds of years tennis has been that sport that's just -- you think of Wimbledon, you think of clean, you think of pristine, you think of two players that are there to compete.
That is the beauty about tennis; you're on your own. You don't have that with basketball or football or any other sport. It's all about you when you're out there. Maybe when you're playing doubles it's a little different because you have a teammate. But for the most part, tennis is an individual sport; that's what I love about it. I love being down 2-5 in the second set, lost the first set, and being able to figure it out and come back on my own, because I think that is what tennis is all about.

Q. On the way the other day I said to someone in the van just that, on the shuttle, that tennis players are probably the toughest athletes out there other than football players, because they do have to figure it out.
SERENA WILLIAMS: You have to. That's what I love about the sport. There's been numerous occasions where I've been out and down, and I've lost first sets horrible, I'm fighting to come back. And I have one set that's easy and then my opponents come back.
That's what makes tennis, I think, so beautiful is the fact that there is no -- it's only you out there. It's you versus your opponent, and it's your opponent versus you. Those two people for that moment in time, and no one can take that away.

Q. What did your coach tell you after the first set tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To be honest, I knew you were going to ask me that, and I do not remember. Obviously it didn't help because I played worse, so I'm going to have to start paying attention better. I was thinking in the locker room, I know they're going to ask me that. But I have no recollection.

Q. You were writing things down; were you trying to write down what your dad was saying?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wrote down something that he said that I was thinking about that I already had in my notes, and I wrote it down again. I have to refer to my notes.

Q. Or were you just doodling like some kids do in school?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been a good doodler. I can barely draw stick figures.
But I do remember writing something down in the right-hand corner, but what it is, I have no idea.

Q. Can you describe kind of like the emotional progression through the match? You seemed to get yourself more fired up as it went on, and the play sort of followed it.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I got more fired up. I guess I think that's how I always play in general. I start out calm. I don't like to start out first point, "come on," because to me it's just the first point, and if someone does that against me, I'm like, It's just one point; you have 60 other points to win here. So I like to work myself into a "come on," or into the match.

Q. Serena you singled out Justine the other day as one of your most formidable opponents. Can you talk about that for a minute?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think she -- no one really writes about her getting the four Grand Slam finals, is that right? Last year. That is right, right? Yeah. And that's an incredible feat. I think she was the player of the year last year to be honest with you. She had a Grand Slam, and four finals is not easy on four different surfaces.
And she's playing consistent. I'm not one to overlook anyone, and especially not her because she's doing well.

Q. What's tricky about her game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She brings different pace, she can hit hard even though she's little. She'll hit a big serve, and then she'll hit a hard one-hander, and you might not realize it, but she hits the ball out there.

Q. How do you relate to someone who comes back after taking a break for personal and emotional reasons and then is just fired up as she seems to have been?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. She's doing so well. And she just caught that Serena flame. I'm trying to catch it, too.

Q. What's going through your mind when it was love-40, she's up 4-3 in the second set, and the crowd is starting to Oh, no, Serena. What are you thinking right at that moment or feeling?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Come on, right now, five aces.

Q. Yeah?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Always. Five big ones.

Q. Then when you hit the first one, is it then just kind of like --
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, the first one wasn't an ace. I was like, Okay, next four aces. Then okay, I think I got aces on the last two, but I'm always thinking at that point just, It's your serve, relax, it's not like you're returning.

Q. So it doesn't make you nervous when you see love-40, that doesn't make you nervous?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I mean, it's like Roger, at the end I would be extremely nervous. But no, it doesn't make me nervous at all.

Q. Serena, you just mentioned four different surfaces as far as Justine is concerned. What would you think if there is consideration at tennis Australia that it might go off Rebound Ace and just put on a regular hard court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That would be awesome. I mean, I'm tired of the blisters I get down there. It's just too much. The Rebound Ace just kills your feet. My feet are still suffering from that. Every year I go there I get bad blisters, it is so hot.
Then I tape my ankles and you always twist them because it's like playing on rubber. I mean, I can't complain, but you know, I've done pretty well there. But I do well on hard surfaces, but I wouldn't be upset at all. It would be a lot easier, I think, on everyone to be honest.

Q. I heard you saying the challenge system was off tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was -- I had a false challenge. I thought that ball was out, but I guess I was wrong. I like the challenge system enough. I mean, if it wasn't there, I wouldn't care. It is what it is; I don't really care one way or the other.

Q. Can you just begin -- going back to the Australian Open, I know you touched on the fact that you changed racquets over there. Can you just go over again or make -- what are the positives? What are the great differences between this racquet and the one you had before the Australian Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: This racquet I'm using is the K Factor, which is just the most amazing racquet in the world. The K Factor is the bomb, and you can't go wrong with it. No, I'm really being honest. I love my racquet. It's the best racquet out there.
I was at 113 square inches, I think. Now I'm at 105, huge difference. And I'm actually able to generate a lot more power. Not only that, the K Factor enables me to have a lot of control, and it works out amazing.

Q. Considering the form you've shown so far this year, is it premature to be thinking about maybe a calendar slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It definitely is. I'm taking it one tournament at a time. I figure just one tournament at a time. It's never off your mind, obviously, but who knows.

Q. Have you changed your training habits? With cutting down the injuries in the last few years, is it a change in what you're doing? More stretching, more yoga, more weightlifting?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely do more yoga but because I like it. I think I've changed it for sure, but I don't think I've changed it because of injury, I just think I do things -- I guess I did change because of injury. I do more stretching so I can be more flexible, and that way I won't get injured as much. Yeah, I do more running and things like that. Yes, I guess I did change it.

Q. Is it working?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I hope it works. I mean, like I said, knock on wood, I just want to stay injury-free.

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