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April 1, 2008

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Today's performance reminded everybody of your performance last year when you took Maria Sharapova apart at a similar stage, and then you reminded everybody afterwards that you always expect the best of yourself. Today you were pretty near your best, weren't you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I didn't make as many errors as I usually do, and, you know, I've been practicing like a champ. Today I finally started playing a little bit the way I've been practicing.

Q. Is there a tournament anywhere else in the world where you feel as comfortable and sort of as much as, This is my place?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel really comfortable at Wimbledon, believe it or not. I feel really comfortable, I don't know, because I like the grass. But definitely here I feel -- I don't know why I do well here. Maybe it's something in the water. (laughter.)

Q. What was the big difference today compared to three performances against the last two?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Today I was just was able to -- I didn't make as many errors. I stayed positive no matter what happened. I think that was a good turnaround. Just mostly the errors. The error count wasn't nearly as high as it's been in the past.

Q. So many people here at the tournament have been buzzing about just how good you look physically on the court. You've not looked this good since... can you finish that sentence?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Since 1982. (laughter.)

Q. Serious question.
SERENA WILLIAMS: That was a serious answer. (laughter.)

Q. You talked about when you came in about how you've been practicing a lot more than usual. Like how much more? How hard have you really been working for this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've really -- not just this tournament. This isn't my goal. My goal was just for the future, not here or, you know, last -- the next week. But my goal is just in the long term to have less injuries and just to keep focused.
I've been saying that tennis is my priority, and I feel that it is. Hopefully my results will finally start to show what I've been practicing and working on so diligently.

Q. Last time I heard you say you practiced like a champ was before the Australian last year when you were starting from a lower fitness point.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely easier. I'm definitely way more fit than last year even at this tournament. I feel I'm moving better. I feel definitely I could be more fit and just in better shape, but I'm taking it one day at a time and looking at it in the long-term picture.

Q. Were you surprised at how easy it was today? Did it cross your mind?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The first set was 42 or 43 minutes, and usually with a 6-2 score line it's 25 minutes. We definitely had a lot of long deuce games and a lot of games, but I just -- was I surprised at how easy? No, it was just -- it wasn't easy. It was just the fact of me making the right shots at the right time.

Q. Since beating Justine here in the final last year, you've lost to her in the whole series of marquis quarterfinals in the Grand Slams. I guess today was payback day, wasn't it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. It's kind of a letdown. I wish this was a Grand Slam more than anything. (laughter.)
I mean, I'm going to try do this at a Grand Slam and not only at this tournament.

Q. If your sister wins tonight you would play. You played back in India. Last time on a big, big stage was US Open in '05. Seems like it's been a while.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely been a while. Not for me, because I played her in India. It was a tough match. It was like two-and-a-half hours.

Q. Was it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. So I look forward to -- you know, obviously I want her to win. So, you know, clearly I want her to win. I want her to do well, but I'll have to deal with that when it comes.

Q. Has it gotten easier or harder to play her over the years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no, no, definitely easier. Definitely easier, because now we really, really leave everything out on the court.
And for me, since I was younger I kind of got angry if I lost. I had a bad attitude. She always had a positive attitude whether she won or lost, but for me it's easier. Now I know that I'm going to leave everything I can on the court, and then whatever happens, you know, at the end of the day, we're going to be sisters way longer than opponents.

Q. She's stepped up the speed of her serve a little bit, both first and second. Your service returns today you had a number of winning service returns or forcing returns. Can you comment?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You mean Venus stepped up her serve?

Q. No, Justine.
SERENA WILLIAMS: So what was the question?

Q. Justine stepped up her serve quite a lot. Little more pace on the ball. But your service returning today was pretty extraordinary. Can you comment on that a bit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she definitely stepped up the pace. She was hitting what, 94 miles an hour second serve, which was harder than mine. They didn't feel like they were 94. Like I would look at the speed gun and felt like it was maybe 80.
But I was -- you know, I thought she did well. I thought she played really well.

Q. Is that because you were reading her serve better today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe I was reading it better maybe. But I thought that, you know, she -- I just noticed it didn't have a lot of pace on it. She wasn't hitting them soft at all.

Q. When you talk about errors going from 60 to 15 or whatever, how would you explain it? Is it just focus, or...
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, some days you have bad days and I really -- I had a really bad day, and I was having really good practices and then, you know, I just had a bad day. Everything I hit didn't seem to want to go in and everything I tried wasn't working. Plus I wasn't doing the right things, so I think that obviously has a factor to do with it.
Today I really wanted to focus on doing what I knew I should do.

Q. Justine said she was lacking courage today against you. What do you think it says about you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know what it says about me. I think she's a really courageous individual, and, you know, just all that she is accomplished is very courageous.

Q. Will you still go and watch Venus' match tonight even though you may be on a collision course?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I should go scout my opponent, right? (laughter.)

Q. Do you think there's anything she can throw at you that you haven't seen?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Venus is playing unbelievable, so I wish it were a final, but if we play each other, and we have to win the tournament, one of us.

Q. Back on Justine for a second. We perhaps overlooked today a couple of winning lobs by you. How much more variety is in your game today than, say, to even one year ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My game has a lots of variety now. I hit a mean slice. I have a great -- I've always had a great lob. I've been playing a lot of doubles. I played a lot of doubles this year, which really kind of helps me, as well, develop my lob, my volleys again.
So I really think that helps. Just playing doubles helps my game in general.

Q. You were also coming in a lot to the net more than Justine. I think it's about double the amount you came into the net than Justine.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's because I'm playing doubles and coming to the net a lot in doubles, and I have a lot of confidence in my volleys. I'm feeling good up there, so, you know, I'm having a lot of fun. So, yeah.

Q. Is it also because Venus, last year she was kind of working on a transition game, coming to the net more? You saw at the US Open. Is it like you're following in her footsteps or...
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Usually I do follow in her footsteps, but I'm nearly a year late. I did notice she was coming to the net in Bangalore a lot. She's copying my game. I actually thought that it was vice versa.

Q. One of your former neighbors, Andy Roddick, got himself engaged yesterday. What is your reaction to that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, jeez. I couldn't believe it when he told me. It was like, Are you -- I thought he was joking.
He's engaged to a really nice girl.

Q. You know her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's a great person. I've never seen him happier, so I'm really happy for him.

Q. Is there any way that you or Venus would stay in the game longer than the other? Do you have any kind of an understanding that it's going to be the same time when you decide to leave the game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, Venus talks about staying for a long time, and I'm like, Jeez. But I figure I'm younger so I should probably stay at least three years longer.

Q. That would be very different, though, wouldn't it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Would it be different?

Q. I don't know. You tell me. I know you came into the game a bit later.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we also have -- I totally forgot what I was going to say. (laughter.)
Oh, my God.

Q. Alzheimer's?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have no idea what I was about to say. I blank out sometimes. I'm very sorry about that. It sucks. Believe me, I know.

Q. So what do you still want to achieve in those three years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The three years after she retires? That could be -- that could be 2075 at this rate.

Q. Where do you want to be at the end of the year in terms of rankings, and are you still looking to get back to No. 1 and dominate again the way you did once?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm always looking to be back to No. 1, and I'm always looking to be on the top. I think I wouldn't be in tennis if I didn't expect or believe that I could be. I'm just fighting every day and hoping to get there soon.

End of FastScripts

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