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March 31, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tell us again how you do that thing where you come back and you look like you're out of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don't know. I really felt when I was serving at 40-15, I felt like wow, this isn't over yet. I just feel like I can do a little better. Okay, Serena, just one point at a time. It's not over. It's not over.

Q. Why do you think you're able to stay aggressive on these big points where other players just tighten up or just can't produce the shot? What do you think it is about you that enables you to make those fearless plays when it matters?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'm definitely not a fearless individual. I think that I just -- I don't know, I feel like when I get down, a part of me just plays better, and I think all champions have that, when they get down, you can't hold them down. I just think, okay, it's not over, I've got to play better. I mean, is there something I can do better, because I felt like I could do better the whole time.

Q. Where were you for Venus's 2001 final here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember. Who did she play?

Q. Jennifer Capriatti?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was here. She saved like eight matchpoints. Yes, I was in the stands, sweating.

Q. What sort of emotions did you have watching Venus that day?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I remember it was too many matchpoints at one point. It was like, okay, this is so many. And I was thinking, wow, this is crazy. Well, we both always just -- you've got to really close us out.

Q. Did you ever have talk with Venus about her mentality at matchpoint, sometime after the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Of course, I did. I don't remember exactly what happened. But it was such an unbelievable moment, to fight off that many matchpoints, I don't think it's ever been done before or after here. So it was just a great moment. It was amazing.

Q. What did she impart to you when you had this conversation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember. I really don't remember the conversation, but I'm sure I did have a conversation with her.

Q. What makes Justine such a tough opponent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Justine had a game plan today, and I think she stuck with it. She gets a lot of balls back, gets my serves back pretty well, yeah.

Q. Is she a cut above the other women that you've been beating up on as a competitor?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think definitely today she was. I've seen her play a lot of players, and I haven't seen her play this tough when I watched her before, you know, when I wasn't playing as much. Like at the Open final, I thought she was going to do better.
So I guess people always bring their A-games against me, and that doesn't matter who it is. I always am ready.

Q. After losing the first set, why didn't you call out your coach?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, I only call out the coach if I see my opponents call out their coach. At that point I noticed she didn't call hers out, so it was like, okay, there was no unfair advantage.
Like I said, I'm all about competing; I don't necessarily like the coaches to come on court. That's the beauty of the game is to figure it out by yourself. You know, you're down 6-0, you're down two matchpoints and you're able to come back. And I was able to do it on my own, not by calling out my coach.
That's what tennis to me is all about. It's about you versus the other player, nothing else.

Q. Dwyane Wade was here, and I think someone asked him about the comeback, and he said it was fabulous; great athletes do great things.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, that's an unbelievable comment from such an amazing athlete, so I feel good.

Q. Any explanation for the first set performance?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, she played really well in the first set, and I made a lot of errors in the first set. You know, she was attacking, and I was way behind the baseline; I wasn't doing the right things that I needed to do. I think it boiled down to me making so many errors and not making my shots.

Q. Was your knee bothering you at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Not at all.

Q. When did that second gear like kick in for you in the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was down 0-5, and I was still fighting. I thought, okay, I'm down 0-5, but that's okay, it's only a couple of breaks I can come back. I didn't want to lose obviously 6-0. But I thought, you know, I think that's when second gear was kicking in. It's like I figured I could do a little better.

Q. Did you get frustrated at all? Like when I'm sure she was hurt, but she would take a little pause and you were in your rhythm, did you get frustrated at all? It seemed like one time you were.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't notice her taking any pauses, so I guess it didn't bother me.

Q. You had some very long points deep into that third set. It seemed from the stands as if you might be tiring a little bit. Were you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, obviously not.

Q. Sometimes people dig down a little deep and find something.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I wasn't tired. There were some winded points where I had to take some deep breaths. I think that's natural when you're playing so fast. It's like you're sprinting, and then you have to take a breath, and then you go back and step up again, and do another sprint. So I wasn't tired.

Q. Where does this rank among satisfying comebacks in an important match for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, this ranks pretty high. It's definitely not the No. 1. But I don't know if I was down in a championship match and came back like that. I'm not sure.
I think any comeback is always good to win when you're down. It's better to win when you're ahead and just close it out, but it always feels good to win if you're not playing at your best.

Q. You now possess the two biggest tournaments of the year so far, the Australian Open and the Sony Ericsson Open. Where do you think you can go from there? What can you build on this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can only go up. I have no points to defend until Cincinnati, which is a tier 3, and I didn't do well at all at the Open. In L.A. I did well, I got to the semifinals, but other than that, I have nothing to lose.
So that's all I'm doing. I'm just playing with a no-lose attitude. It's fun. I feel like wherever I go, even if I only win a round, I've gained points. So it's great, and I just hope to continue. I'm not going to stop here, you've got to continue to work hard.

Q. You go to Charleston?

Q. And then back to Delray?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, Delray.

Q. Will it be difficult going hard court to clay court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's going to be a challenge, I think. I would prefer if it was on clay, Fed Cup, but I'm going to be very serious about my clay court season, and maybe have all my practices on clay, and just play the regular matches on hard.

Q. When you go through a match like this and you go through the emotional roller coaster that you did, the fans and the whole thing, does that increase your appetite to play? I mean, do you think, all right, this is great stuff, it's great to be here again, or is it been there, done that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's really great. I remember I missed a shot, and the whole crowd was like, "aw." And it was really like they were all leaning on that one ball, and everyone was so involved.
At that point, I just was having a good time. I was just like, wow, this is fun. I continued to fight.

Q. You said you played better when you get down, or could some of that be once you get down, then you just start playing by reflex or instinct? Maybe you're not thinking, you're just doing, I don't know. Is there something to be said for playing just naturally without thinking?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. I think when people get down sometimes, they get relaxed, and then it's like you're not so tight, and you're like, oh, you just relax, and then it's like everything comes to you at that point.

Q. Is that what you did at 3-3 those three straight games in the third?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just figured it was my serve; I may as well serve, why not.

Q. Justine is known for mental toughness. You're down 6-0, you come back to win, you obviously showed that you have just as high a level of mental toughness. Can you define for me, what is mental toughness in your opinion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, that's a very broad answer. I think mental toughness is -- to be honest with you, I mean mental toughness is just being able to survive, not on the tennis court, but I think off the court, getting through a lot of things in life. I think mental toughness comes from off the court.

Q. At what point in this match did you feel like you caught the Serena flame?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think when I was down 5-0, I kept saying, come on. Even though I was down, I never was out. I kept fighting, and it was important not to surrender. I never threw up the white flag.

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