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April 3, 2008

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What a superb match. It was probably worthy of a final. You must be very satisfying for you to come out on top having dug so deep?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's always good to come out on top. I think I was a little disappointed in the way I played, but, I mean, I'm just moving on.

Q. Talk about the back injury and when you felt you were moving better. Looked like the second set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, the physio came out, and I started to feel better right after she treated me. The first time I felt a lot better, and each time she came out it kept getting better.
I just got stuck, like out of nowhere I just got stuck. It was just completely out of the blue, but it got better.

Q. Do you recall which shot or movement it was?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember if it was a movement or a shot. I don't remember. It was a long time ago, but I do remember it was just all of a sudden I felt stuck.

Q. Is that why you were serving like in the 90s and holding back on your serve in the first set?

Q. Yeah.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh. I don't think so. Like I said, once she came out it got better, like straightaway, and it got even better after that.

Q. Was this a match where mental toughness was really what it was all about to win this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I do think it was about being mentally tough and making the right shots at the right time and just never giving up. I played a really good opponent today who has been down several match points in this tournament already, so I knew going in she wasn't just going to give it to me.

Q. What about the fitness factor? Nearly three hours, hot afternoon, and you seemed to be strong at the end.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I don't feel tired or sore or anything at all. I don't feel -- I feel like I'm really fit. Even right now, I'm not tired.

Q. Talk about the regimen you did since the Australian to get into such good shape.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been working really hard.

Q. Specifically?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'll write about it. You can buy it.

Q. You said in the past you have a home court advantage here. Did you get any kind of a charge in the third set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I had great support from the first game on, which was really good. It was clearly great support.
This is one of my favorite tournaments. I love playing here. All my friends come out. I promised tickets for Saturday, so I was, like, I can't lose. I've got to stay in there a little bit longer. It was mainly my motivation.

Q. At the start of the second set you were two breakpoints down, and you held onto that service game, and you held serve for the rest of that set and then broke Kuznetsova to win the set. I mean, obviously holding onto that first service game was crucial, wasn't it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely crucial. I mean, in this match, it seemed like every point was crucial, like at any point the match could have turned or went a different way. It was really a good match, just to focus on each point. You really have to be focused for everything.

Q. It seemed like early on you were having problems with the forehand. What improved with that and just kind of what were you doing or not doing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I made some errors on any forehand for some unknown reason, and I wasn't doing the right technique. I thought about my third-round match or whatever, fourth round or third round, Pennetta, how I kept making the errors. I thought, okay, I can correct it. And I corrected it and went on instead of just dwelling on it.

Q. You moved very well in the third set. Is that kind of really a physical thing or mental thing because now you're really into the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's definitely both. I mean, clearly I wanted the match, but physically, like I said, I'm not tired. I feel like I was looking at the score -- at the time it was like two hours and 30 minutes. It was fine for me.
I think it definitely was a little bit of both: The fact that I did want to win and the fact that I was re-energized.

Q. You always say facing Venus is the toughest thing for you. What's it like facing an opponent that just beat your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Umm. What is it like? I want to win for Venus, and so that always gives me a little extra motivation.
But at the end of day, you just are trying to win every point, regardless, and trying to play well and learn from what my sister did wrong.

Q. After you played so well against Justine, was it tough to overcome what might be seen as a natural letdown?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt -- when I lost the first set, I felt I'm not the type of player to beat the No. 1 player and then come out and lose the next match. That's never been my strategy. It's never been my game. So I just maybe got off to a slow start and didn't take some opportunities.

Q. Did that ten-minute heat break help you guys? Seemed like you both broke each other a lot right after the break.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was annoying. It was like, jeez, I shouldn't have took the break, because I really didn't need it. I just decided I could at least change my clothes.
When I came back out, I was like I don't know. I didn't need the break at all. It wasn't necessary.

Q. Do you and Venus talk about the match before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, yesterday we talked about it. She told me some things. Not too deep.

Q. Was that a dinner table discussion for you or casually driving to the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was definitely a casual discussion. We were just talking about a lot different things and that came up briefly and we moved on.

Q. How do you guys seem to escape the natural sibling rivalry? You say you want to win for Venus. I mean, that's not the normal.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I love her so much. It's like we're best friends. We're in the same -- I'm so blessed to have her in the same sport. It's a great feeling.
I mean, she's going to be my sister way longer than I'm going to be playing tennis. I would hate to fall out with her because I lost a match. That wouldn't be worth it. We've been close since I was a little baby. She always took care of me. We're really close.

Q. With this being one of your favorite tournaments, what would it mean for to you win it back to back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughter.) I'm sorry, what was the question again?

Q. You said it was one of your favorite tournaments here. Even though it's not a Grand Slam, what would it mean to win it back to back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It would mean a lot. I don't want lose any points here, and I'm glad that I was able to come through some tough matches.
I just want to start winning other tournaments, you know. This one, I love. Believe me, I want to win this right now more than anyone. But I'm also just so focused right now. I just feel like I'm so focused, not just on this event but on everything else starting with the clay court season.

Q. Are you focused on your next opponent, possibly Jankovic or Zvonareva?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I think I've played a great tournament, and I'm just happy to be still in it and doing the best I can do. As long as I'm doing the right thing on the court, I feel like I can come out on top, but I just have to make sure I'm doing what's right.

Q. Will you watch the match tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'll probably watch a little bit of it.

Q. Are you thinking that this is the fifth time? And why did you change to wear the hat?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was hot, and I did well in the hat the other day, so I figured I should wear it today. I think I played -- last year, I was really tired after, because it was so hot and I had like a heat headache. Like, I definitely want to wear the hat.

Q. What about the fifth time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't won anything five times except for -- I win all the time in Uno. I don't know think that counts. Unless there's a tour coming on that.

Q. I think you're going to play Charleston but not Amelia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't think I'm entered in Amelia but I know I'm entered in Charleston. I'll definitely be there. I look forward to it.

Q. How important is that event as a jump off to the red clay in Europe, or are they so dissimilar surfaces?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I love that event. I have a lot of support there. I never won that event and I would like to win there. I did terrible last year, so I have nothing to lose when I go there.
All I do is win some rounds and, you know, help my rankings so that's what my next goal is. I have a couple tournaments to do that, just looking forward.

Q. You've seen how tough it is to be ranked No. 1 and be down lower and having to meet seeds early on. Do people really appreciate how difficult it is to fight your way to a title from, say, No. 8 or 9 seeds than it is form the No. 1 position?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely is difficult. You have to play the seeds earlier, like the No. 1 players sooner. My whole theory is eventually you have to play everyone, so that's how I look at it. Seems like I'm not ranked as high as I want to be right now.

Q. Is the green clay a good jump off for the red clay, or are they so dissimilar?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think they're similar. I mean, clay is clay. They're both going to be a lot slower than the hard court. The green clay isn't as slow as the red clay, but it's getting you prepared for that. I grew up on green clay, so I'll be fine.

Q. Matches like the one you had with Justine where everything was working and the match today where everything wasn't working particularly well from the start, is there some satisfaction from overcoming that and gutting it out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not a 100% happy with the way I played today. I mean, I'm glad I won, but I feel like I could have done a lot better. I'm just going to try to make little adjustments.

Q. Were you frustrated by the number of breakpoint opportunities that you let slip? You converted 5 out of 16.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I definitely think I could have done a lot better on those points and I didn't take the opportunities the way I could have. I guess this match is over.

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