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January 12, 2008

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What do you think of your first-round opponent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't looked yet, but I don't know. I'm sure Venus has played her before.

Q. How has your preparation been going into the Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my preparation's been really good. I've been, you know, just training every day and just getting out there on the court every day. So it's been really good and really positive.
It's good. I like my preparation this year.

Q. Do you feel much pressure? You have a title to defend?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't feel any pressure at all. I feel just, you know, excited to be here. I don't feel like, Oh, my God, I have to win, win, win. I just feel like I'm having so much fun every day.

Q. How deep do you think you can go?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm just taking it one match at a time, see how it goes from there. Obviously, I always come in thinking, you know, I want to go all the way and I want to win. You know, I have that potential. We'll see what happens.

Q. When you arrived here, did you get some sort of flashback to what you did achieve here last year? It was quite a monumental achievement.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did. And I always do. Every time I walk down the hall, I see the picture on the wall, it's such a good moment, such a good memory. I love having the picture on the wall. It's my favorite thing. So it's cool.

Q. Could you talk about coming in last year sort of under the radar and coming in this year as one of the favorites?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, last year I was completely under the radar. I had, I mean, absolutely no expectations from anyone, and that really made me want to kind of prove everyone wrong.
This year it's completely opposite where I more or less have a lot of expectations, but I'm still in here and I'm still here for me more than anything. Just like that.

Q. Can you talk about the changes of the surface?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I like the surface. I mean, I like how it's still kind of one color. It's blue now, but still I like it.
I've never been one that can really tell the difference on each hard court 'cause, you know, they kind of all feel alike to me.
It's not as bouncy as it was last year, which I like. My gosh, I was spraining my ankle so much and getting so many blisters all the time.
I mean, I like the surface. It's fine.

Q. You look to be in good shape. Is this the fittest you think you've been for a long time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely probably the fittest I've been in a while - maybe (smiling).

Q. Obviously some pretty hot days last week. Forecast is that the heat is going to be a factor. How does that affect you? Do you really hate playing in those oppressive heat conditions?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I love playing in the heat, I do. I think it's fun. I'm definitely from the heat. I play my best tennis in the hottest weather. It's great.
So I like the heat.

Q. Do you think they should keep the roof open then?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure. I mean, I'm not saying if it's 42 degrees, keep the roof open. I'm definitely not for that. But if it's that hot, please, God, close the roof. I'm not that insane or that drastic.

Q. What was your reaction to Justine's win last night in Sydney, the fact she wasn't here last year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I didn't know she won, so... I wasn't following it. I went to bed last night like at 8, 7 or 8, really early. Isn't today Saturday? Isn't the final usually on Saturday?

Q. Final was last night. In some respects, an impressive win, to win against the No. 2 seed up in Sydney?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely impressive. Most impressive (laughter).

Q. Is she your biggest concern for this title?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, my biggest concern is who I practice with every day: Venus. She's playing unbelievable. She gets every ball back. I think Justine is a big concern, as well.
But I don't necessarily think about my opponents like that, who I have to be concerned about. I really just focus on what I need to do and what I need to do right. And if I can do it right, then I'll have positive results.

Q. The rankings say that she is the world No. 1. Does she feel like the world No. 1 to you or do you feel that your best tennis is the best in the world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think right now she's absolutely the world No. 1. I mean, she's winning every tournament that she's entering. I mean, she definitely, definitely is No. 1. She definitely has that ranking, for sure.

Q. What is your opinion of Lindsay Davenport's comeback?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I'm speechless because she looks better than me and she's seven months out of having a baby. I'm convinced if I had a baby, seven months later I'd probably still be in the hospital trying to get over the pain (laughter).
I mean, she is my ultimate role model. I mean, I'm really so motivated. Like she's just taken it to a new level. Honestly, I'm really speechless.

Q. She's due to play Maria Sharapova in the second round if they got that far. Do you think she could beat Maria? Is she at that level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't seen her play since she's returned. But, I mean, she's winning. She's won like three tournaments. I mean, she's doing really well. So I think -- I think Maria's playing really well, too. It will be a good match. It will definitely be one to watch.

Q. What do you expect of the season? How many titles do you want to win, or any particular tournament you want to win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I haven't thought about the exact number of titles I want to win. You know, my goal is to play the tournaments I'm entered in.

Q. A particular tournament you want to win?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, obviously I would love to win the Grand Slams and other tournaments. I want to do well in Dubai.

Q. You've talked about wanting to get back to No. 1. Is it a goal this year to play enough to challenge for the No. 1 spot?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my goal mainly, I figure if I play well in a solid amount of tournaments, you know, I'll be able to take that ranking. I don't think I necessarily -- I've never been the type of player that has to play 20 tournaments to get to No. 1, or 30. So, I mean, I definitely don't have to do that.

Q. At this point do you feel that your body will allow you to play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my body will allow anything really. It's ready for anything.

Q. When you finish a season and you know this is the first major tournament of the year, the sort of conditions you have to play in, when does your training start and how does it evolve?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it's hard because, you know, it's so hot in Australia. This time of the year it's really cold in the United States. My training, you know, starts usually -- it never usually stops, especially because it's such a big tournament in the beginning of the year. I mean, you know, you take a week off if you can. But you have to always kind of keep going.
And it's good if you come to Australia, play a tournament in advance, or come to Australia at least a week ahead of time to kind of get used to the conditions.

Q. What is your reaction to the jailing of Marion Jones overnight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I didn't know you could go to jail for those types of things. You know, I don't know. I don't know how to react to that. You know, you have a lot of people competing and trying to do their best.
I'm going to stop there. I don't even know what to say to that.

Q. What sort of message do you think this sends to athletes who I suppose choose to use performance-enhancing drugs?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I just think it says you shouldn't do it. I mean, it's definitely, you know -- it's definitely sad. You see the pictures of her; you can't help but feel sorry for her. But at the same time, it's like, what do you do in that situation.
You know, tennis is really, really -- personally, I get drug tested a lot. I know every Grand Slam, in a lot of tournaments, they do the drug testing. We really have a good system in place to keep the sport clean and beautiful - that it is and has been for years.

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