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January 14, 2008

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So how does it feel to be back? What did you think of your level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It definitely feels good to be back. I think I was a wee bit nervous out there. But, you know, it's good to be back.

Q. So level-wise? Little bit scratchy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I think everyone could probably tell I was a little scratchy. But, you know, it's the first round. Just moving forward.

Q. Why do you play well here in Australia?

Q. Yes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I've really liked the surface. I like the surface this year as well. I like to play in the heat. I do well in the heat. I like the crowd.
I don't know. I don't know why I play well here. But I think some of those have definitely factors to it.

Q. Do you think the surface is appreciably different this year? Is it quicker?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The only thing I feel different is it's not as bouncy, so I don't have to worry about tearing my ankle apart, so that works in my favor. Other than that, I don't feel that much of a difference.

Q. The ball speed feels the same? The bounce doesn't feel higher or lower?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it feels higher, and sometimes I think it feels lower. I'm really not the right person to ask about a court, like I'm not the one.

Q. What do you think of the color of the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I like the color. I think it's really pretty. I like how it's all blue.

Q. Any special memories when you first walked out, like last year's final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just thought about last year, you know, my last match on that court, I was able to win it. And I just remember -- that's all I thought about. I didn't think about the ceremony, holding up the trophy. I just got right back into the swing of things and thought, I have to stay focused.

Q. A bit of a scare in that first set when you went over on your ankle.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't realize I went over on my ankle. I was just embarrassed that I fell. I had to get up as fast as I could.

Q. What did you make of your opponent today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought she played well. I thought she definitely has a lot of power and she has a really good serve. Actually, I think she has a really, really good return.

Q. I was reading through your much publicized blog today.

Q. Let me ask you about the second one. You were talking about change. Does that apply on court, too? Are there things you're thinking you were afraid to change on court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think it can apply on court and it has applied on court. And I think that sometimes, you know, you're afraid to do -- you know, for me sometimes, I'm like, Okay, if I do this, what if I miss? And you can't think like that. You have to think that you can do it, not think negative, not let any negative thoughts go there.

Q. Is there a next stage on court for you? Are there new elements you feel you should be adding?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think there is a next stage. I think if I just do what I practice, then there is completely a next stage, and I could reach it if I want to.

Q. You were asked the other day about Lindsay, her comeback. Do you expect we'll see more women coming on the tour that have had babies?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I don't know. Like I said, I just -- I can't personally imagine it. I mean, I love tennis. But, I mean, I just -- the recovery level and the workout regime. When I see pregnant women walking, I'm like, How do they walk? My back hurts looking at them (laughter). It's just like I have so much respect for those players, those people.
So I just, you know -- personally, I don't know whether I could do that. But, you know, I just have so much respect for Lindsay. It's incredible.

Q. Did you correspond with her via email when she was pregnant? Are you surprised she did come back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I'm not surprised she came back. I did correspond with her. I sent her a couple emails here and there. You know, Lindsay is a great person. I always try to keep up with her.

Q. You lost a lot of weight and you look great. What is your secret?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What is my secret (laughter)? I don't know. Maybe you'll read about it in the next blog.

Q. There's been speculation that the Aussie Open may rotate around the Asia/Pacific countries, as in China might host the first Grand Slam, or Japan, then Australia. What are your thoughts? Should it stay here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The Australian Open belongs in Australia. I can't imagine it being anywhere else. It belongs here. I love, when you come here, you listen to the accent. My whole life, I was watching tennis. It's like, Oh, I want to go to Australia and play the Australian Open. When I'm playing my video game, I'm playing in Australia. So it belongs here.

Q. Back to the blog. I'm going to ask you about the other one. Do you feel comfortable baring your soul to the world when you're writing, knowing everyone is going to ask about it, who the guy was, how I felt about it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, the funny thing is I didn't know it would be that big. Not that many people go on my website, which is fantastic. So many hits. It was like, Oh, my God.
But, no, I was in a melancholy state. It wasn't about anyone in particular. I'm extremely happy. I was joking with my friends back at home, Apparently I have a heartbreak going on. They're all asking me like, Serena, are you okay? I'm like, What are you talking about? I think it kind of got really out of control.
For the most part, uhm -- I kind of got away from your question. What was your question?

Q. It was basically that you're baring your soul.
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's one thing with my website is I'm really interactive and I'm always writing blogs. I've written a lot of things about me. I have a part that's a relationship blog where, you know, I go through some of my friends' problems, I talk about it, what to do in a relationship, what not to do. So it's really interactive, and I always try to bare my soul so people can kind of see what kind of person I am and get a better feeling for Serena Williams.

Q. What's the No. 1 thing not to do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In a relationship?

Q. Yes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, there's so many things what not to do. Hmm. That's a good one. I'm going to write about that: what not to do. I definitely will be writing about that one (laughter).

Q. Seeing as some of your friends misinterpreted your state of mind, what you were saying when you were writing on the blog, does it give you a different perspective if someone writes something about you in the media and it doesn't come across the right way to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, whatever (laughter). No, that's not an excuse for writing bad articles about me.
But, uhm, I guess it could, you know, get out of hand if it's not really written really clear. Yeah, so I guess it definitely does give me a different perspective on people who are writing different articles (smiling).

Q. Is that pretty much the overriding theme of your life, or one of them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have honestly never been like in a happier state than what I am now. I'm always happy and smiling. I think because I have kind of made it all about me, I put Serena as A, and A is first. Those pictures were very old.

Q. They were?

Q. Where?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know where they were taken. I was just shocked, so...

Q. Do you feel you can play your best when you feel like you don't have something to prove?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely can, and I have done that in the past. I definitely feel I can play my best without anything to prove.

Q. I was reading some comments from Hopman Cup. One could have been tongue and cheek. You said, I want No. 1 again, and Justine, be warned.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never said that. That doesn't even sound like me. Have I ever said anything like that?

Q. Well, I want to be No. 1, that certainly sounds like you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I would never say, Justine be warned. No, I never said that.
I definitely do want to be No. 1 or else I wouldn't be playing. I do know there are a lot of people playing who do have that same goal of being No. 1. If I didn't want to be No. 1, I shouldn't be playing. I set my goals high and try to reach those goals.

Q. You pushed the bar really high in your dominant stage. Do you feel Justine pushed the bar higher last year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think she pushed the bar really high. She played unbelievable. I think she won most of the tournaments that she entered. And that's really something that is very, I mean, encouraging and really pushing the bar really high.

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