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June 23, 2007

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.

Q. You and Venus are sitting around one day, and one of you says to the other, "Why don't we play doubles? We haven't played doubles in a long time." Is that about how it happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, we've always wanted to play doubles and keep up our doubles experience. We were like, okay, when we get better, when our bodies are feeling better, we're going to play doubles again.
It was just a matter of time of us getting more healthy. Now that we're healthy, we'll likely play doubles.

Q. Are you excited about that possibility?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm really excited. I can't wait for the first round. We take it very seriously. We love to play doubles, especially at Wimbledon.

Q. When you left the French Open you were saying, Going to go back to Florida, it's going to be hot, training is going to be hard, going to get me fit for Wimbledon. How did that all go?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was able to go home and train some more. Pretty redundant. I'm glad to be gone from that.

Q. How does it feel to be back at Wimbledon after year away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's awesome. I haven't played here in a while, so... I love Wimbledon. Obviously I love the courts. I look forward to it.

Q. What message do you think Wimbledon is sending with the equal prize money?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I think it sends a great message. I mean, obviously back in the '70s, when Billie Jean King took a stand for women's tennis, I don't remember if it was six or eight, however other many players, they wanted equal prize money. '70s was a while ago. I wasn't even born then. It's taken this long to have equal prize money now at Wimbledon.
I think it's, uhm, a step in the right direction I mean just for not only tennis but just for women's sports, for women all around.

Q. You are not the No. 1 seed, but you're easily the betting favorite in this country to win this tournament. Do you feel confident about that, too?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just feel really relaxed. I mean, I don't feel any pressure. I don't know. I feel really just like -- I don't know. I don't feel pressure at all.

Q. Confident?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm always confident. But I'm feeling really confident this week.

Q. When was the last time you were as fit and as well-prepared for Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know (smiling). I have a bad memory, as I always say. Maybe the summer of '63 (smiling).

Q. At the Australian Open, nobody thought you would stand much of a chance. You won the whole thing. Are we going to see that Serena this time? You've been an unknown quantity because of your illnesses and injuries over the last few years. Which Serena is here at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm here to compete. I think the best Serena always shows up at any event whenever I'm healthy. For me it's always been about being healthy. I'm feeling pretty healthy. That's what matters.

Q. What type of statement do you think you've made with your commitment and your comeback from being at one of the lowest points in your career to having won a Grand Slam this year and to be much more at the top of your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I just made a statement that, uhm, I'm still, I think, the best player out here when I'm playing well. Like I always say, when I'm playing well, it's hard for anyone to beat me.
It's just a fact. I think a lot of people understand that. I don't think anyone that has to play me goes home and shouts with joy. Granted, they play me really hard and that gives them more confidence to have a chance to beat me.

Q. What about in terms of the degree that tennis is a priority in your life? That's something that others have questioned.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, that's also a statement I've made. I mean, tennis has always been a priority in my life. And right now, it's the same priority.
The fact that I'm feeling good and that I'm not suffering with any injuries right now, it makes it easier to make it a priority because you don't have to, like, go out and be in so much pain while you're playing or anything. It just shows the dedication I have for myself and the sport of tennis.

Q. That performance in your loss at the French Open, many of us have never seen you that flat in a performance before. Did you do some soul searching about that, why you came out and played an entire match in a flat emotional state?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did think about it a lot. I just think I was crazy maybe. I never really came to a conclusion as to why I played not only so flat but so horrendous, outrageously absurd. I think it was one of the worst matches I've ever played.

Q. How do you avoid that happening again?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's not gonna happen again. I mean, it's not gonna happen again. I'm not gonna go out without a fight. If I do go out, it's going to be with a punch, with a bang, you know.

Q. How did you enjoy being on the Jonathan Ross show? What did you make of him?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Jonathan Ross is really a funny character. He made me laugh a lot. They cut out a lot of the interview, which I think was for the best (laughter).

Q. Were you swearing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not on my behalf (smiling).

Q. Do you feel hungrier than ever for success to win because of injuries?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not eating as much, so... (Smiling). But I'm definitely more determined, definitely hungry, as you say, just because I enjoy playing and I enjoy winning and I enjoy the battle. I enjoy being out there.
My least favorite thing is to go home and watch someone else enjoy being out there. That's kind of tough.

Q. Have you informed Zina Garrison, or do you intend to inform her, that you will be in Stowe, Vermont, the week after this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have plans of being there. It's a shame it's right after Wimbledon. You know, I definitely plan on being there, not only supporting Zina but supporting my country, playing Fed Cup. I've already planned on being there. It's just like, I have a big summer coming up.

Q. Do you know if Venus has the same attitude right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I believe she does have the same attitude. Like we said, not only for Zina, but just to play Fed Cup. We'd like to see the trophy back in the United States, where it belongs.

Q. Do you feel your hunger and drive and determination that you have now is partly because of the last few years, the injuries, the illnesses, it's kind of made you miss being at the top, whereas if you had been there and stayed at the top, maybe it would have been hard, as a lot of the girls find? Having been away from it for a while, maybe it's a good thing for you in one sense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I guess you can look at it optimistically like that. Ideally I would have preferred to, you know, be there and stay on the top throughout my whole career. I think that would have been perfect and fabulous.
But I think what makes a real champion is someone that can fall and dust themselves off and get up.

Q. What do you make of Centre Court this year? Obviously some changes. Do you think it will have any impact on the tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't seen Centre Court. I don't really know. It won't affect my tennis, per se. Maybe someone else's. You know, I grew up on some pretty tough courts. This is splendid compared to where I come from.

Q. You talk about the injuries and the fact you're pain-free now, do you put it down to a change of fortune, or do you think you're a lot smarter now and managing things a lot better in terms of just how you prepare, how you recuperate from matches, that sort of thing?

Q. Do you change how you go about it? You wouldn't think it would sort of change by accident that you would have a good run with injuries.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, maybe I'm doing different things that relate to my specific injuries that help me not have the same problems as before. I'm not doing anything too much different.

Q. Do you spend more or less time on the court, for example, in terms of practice hours?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been one that's really huge on staying out on the court 12 hours a day. Venus always practices a lot, though.
It's about the same. Like I said, I'm just doing more things for my particular injury that helps me.

Q. Could Venus be one of your biggest challenges this year perhaps, one of your biggest rivals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think she's the best grass court player in the draw. I think with her serve, her return, her volleys, you know, she's always one to watch.

Q. Tennis is about self-belief, isn't it? Although you're not No. 1 ranked in the world, do you believe you are the best player in the world among the women at the moment?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, I believe I'm definitely the best player if I'm playing well, it's hard for anyone to beat me. Like I said, it's not even a belief; it's more of a fact.

Q. There's always anticipation of you and your sister's style on court. Can you give us an idea of what you're wearing this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm wearing white for sure. That's definitely for sure. I'm sticking with that motif.

Q. Any particular style?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, pretty similar to what I wore in Paris.

Q. Can you tell us what you think of the new look of Centre Court without the roof, if it reminds you of anywhere?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I haven't seen it. I never really get a chance to see Centre Court too much, this Centre Court, too much before.

Q. Do you think it will change the atmosphere a lot with no roof?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think as long as the court is still there, for me it will be okay (laughter). I don't know if it's there or not. That's going to be a problem.

Q. What do you think of the opportunity to have points corrected?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's great. I don't have to worry about hitting shots two feet in, having them called out. That's going to be real exciting.
I really like it. It works.

Q. Are the first few rounds always a bit of a concern, or do you think you're going to hit the ground running this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Always for me I take the first round extremely serious. From then on out I take the rest of my matches really serious. I just try to keep going.
Everyone in the first round really wants to take out a seed or a top player. I'm always really focused.

Q. You said when Venus is on, grass is a great surface for her, she's the best on grass. What is your assessment of where she is in her game and her fitness right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think Venus is extremely fit. I think this is the most I've ever seen her -- the fittest I've ever seen her, I should say. She's playing really well. She's moving like the wind.

Q. What are your expectations for her performance here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't thought about it. I try to focus on this side of the street more than anything (smiling). She's my sister. I love her dearly. I can guarantee you, she has the same answer.

Q. Apart from your sister, who else will you be watching out for this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I'm definitely going to be watching a lot of Federer and Nadal. I would love to see another repeat of that final. I like Baghdatis.

Q. Who do you think would also be a threat on the women's tour apart from your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, everybody. I mean, like I said, everyone I play plays really hard. The girl I played at the opening of the French Open, I thought she was the champ. Everyone I have to play plays tough.

Q. Where does Wimbledon come in your own sort of to-do list? If you were to win this time, how special would that be compared to other achievements you've had?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It would be awesome because obviously I wanted it when I won it, in the past. I mean, I really want it. You have to pay the price to get it. I think I paid the price. If not, there's always next year.

Q. What do you think it's like for Federer trying to go for five in a row, having gone for three in a row yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, he doesn't seem to lose too much. I think he has a great chance. If I could, I'd put money on him. I don't know if I can or not (smiling). But, yeah, I think he has a really good chance.

Q. Obviously at the French we saw two Serbian players really come into form, Ivanovic and Jankovic. Is that the sign of a new breed of tennis player coming through, or do you expect it to be for a while Henin, Mauresmo, Sharapova that you're really fighting against in the latter stages of a tournament like this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's strange how they always come in twos, like Henin and Clijsters. Now it's like Ivanovic and Jankovic. I think they're really solid players. I think Jankovic is a really all-around court player.
I don't think it was a fluke or anything. I think they're around to stay.

Q. The Americans had a bad tournament last year. What do you think on behalf of the Americans this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I wasn't here, so...

Q. I know, but...
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's the answer. That's why. So now that I'm here, it should be different.

Q. Right now Henin and Mauresmo are battling it out in the Eastbourne final. Are you happier that you're here, not playing in something competitive like that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I just -- I've never really played a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon. This is I think the best route for me. I wouldn't want to play and have a day off, then play again. It rains a lot in Eastbourne. No, I'm glad they're duking it out over there.

Q. How do you fill your time when it rains here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have a lot of books. I read a lot.

Q. Will playing in the doubles help the singles as well? You could go all the way in both. Any danger of it being too heavy a load for you? Is that how you want it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, this is fine. I mean, it wasn't heavy when I did it. It won't be any different. It's like practicing, competing at the same time, getting extra practice. Maybe my volleys will be like unbelievable soon.

Q. At the French Open you might have heard about Federer, Djokovic, Nadal doing some karaoke to promote the tournament. If Wimbledon asked you to do the same thing, one would you do it and two, what would your tune be?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't sing.

Q. Not at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I don't sing. It wouldn't be fun. It would start raining.

Q. If you're well on form and fit, the best player here, but if Venus is the best grass court player, if you played in the final, who would win that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I said if I'm playing well it's hard for anyone to beat me, so... Hopefully that means I would win, yeah.

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