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April 5, 2008

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations on winning your fifth title here, Serena. It proved to be lucky No. 7 in terms of closing out the match. Can you talk about the emotions that you went through as you watched the first six match points evaporate before your very eyes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought I had like 15 matches points. I'm glad to know it wasn't. I really thought I had 15. I don't know. I just -- a couple of shots she hit really well, and then a couple of times I made some mistakes, and I was just like, it was just weird.

Q. When you smashed the racquet, that's something we don't normally see you do. What took you to that point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I smashed a racquet? (laughter.) Oh, my God. Really? You sure it was me?

Q. Looked like you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Well, I guess maybe more than likely my hand must have been really oily and sweaty. That just doesn't -- like you said, that's just not me. God.

Q. Talk about the emotions. Talk about the emotional swings. Obviously from the first set to the second set to the match points, can you describe what that was like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was definitely up and on my way to glory, and out of there, you know, within an hour. But, you know, I made a lot -- I started making a lot of mistakes. Then I think I wasn't doing -- you know, Jelena obviously started playing -- when you have nothing to lose it's like you play like you have nothing to lose, and those are the most dangerous people in life, you know, on the court.
So I think she just started making some great shots and, you know, putting a few more balls in play, and I started missing some important shots. You know, she got lucky a few times. I got lucky, you know, then she just closed it out.

Q. She said you looked nervous out there. Is that even possible considering you have been playing tennis your whole life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know if I was nervous. I know I got tight. I guess you can classify that as nervous. Normally I just close it out. I just didn't make the right shots. Then really though sometimes the wind, it was windy, and I just made the wrong -- I made the mistakes at the wrong time.
Whether it was nerves or not, it was me definitely technically not doing everything I did and I was supposed to do in practice.

Q. Does it surprise you to get tight, Serena? Is that something you don't expect from yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I get tight often. My forearm gets a little locked up. I've gotten tight in a couple of matches, but I usually get over it and get through it.

Q. Is it just you're thinking you're this close to winning, it's three points away? I mean, we haven't been in that situation. You know, what are you going through at that point that would make you do that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, at that point, you know, more or less it's me just like feeling like, you know, I'm almost there. Or, God, I would hate to lose this match after being up so much.
I think that's more of the emotion. Like, How am I going to sleep tonight? "How many Ambien do I have in case I lose this match" type of situation? (laughter.)
So you know, you never want to go home like that. That's really one of the worst feelings, and I think when you think about all that, then you end up putting a little more pressure on yourself.

Q. You get distracted?

Q. When you turned around and sort of took your head in your hands, what were you telling yourself when you're sort of collecting yourself there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just, Get the ball in play. Relax and just, you know, hit the shot, and I think that's what, more or less, I was telling myself. You know, Just make your shots. I couldn't seem to make my shots at the right time.

Q. Aside from the racquet smashing, you seemed to play much more calmly, very little screaming. Seemed to be a different Serena out there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, when that happened I was able to relax. I knew I was going to win it at that point. I felt like I had three chances to hold serve. Got to do it eventually. I just wanted to break her there. I just felt really relaxed at that point, like -- and the racquet was getting on my nerves. He had to go.

Q. Is the weather a factor at all when it's so hot and humid, eagerness to be done with the job? Does that make the fuse even shorter and the frustration greater?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely when it's humid, you know, I guess you can get more tired or your muscles get tired. Honestly, I didn't think it was that hot today. I didn't -- you know, it was -- I'm so used to these conditions that it just really felt like another Florida day to me. It was a pretty day, actually.

Q. This tournament obviously, you know, five titles; you obviously feel very comfortable here. You just keep winning.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, I feel really comfortable here. I've been trying to feel this comfortable at the US Open and Wimbledon, which I'm bound to do. I'm right on schedule to feel comfortable there, too. I'm just -- I have -- like I said, I have so many friends here and it's like playing at home and the crowd is always really happy and they're rooting, so it's a good feeling.

Q. The fact that you still get tight in a match like this even after all your wins and all your experiences, is that a reflection of your desire level at this point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think it's a reflection on my desire level. Especially now I feel like all I want to do is play tennis, and all I want to do is be the best and win. My whole life is dedicated to nothing but tennis. I've been working so hard, and I feel like everything will come together in time.
Sometimes when it doesn't come together I get frustrated, but I feel like it's not going to be in vain. So I definitely think that the fact that I do get tight or get -- I did get tight, you know. I think everyone gets tight at some point.
But the fact that I did today, I feel that it definitely -- you can definitely see my desire and my dedication.

Q. People always ask you, When was the last time you were this fit? I'd like to ask, When is the last time you wanted it this much and were this focused?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's a hard question, because I always want to win every -- every match I play, you know, I feel like I always want to win, so, yeah.

Q. How far back do you think you've come to your very best level? Is it possible to assess that or not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm -- you know, I'm doing more of the right things that I should be doing more. I feel like I have a little more variety in my game. I feel like I'm on the right track.
I'm not there yet, and I feel like -- I've always said I feel like I've never reached my potential. I really want to get there.

Q. Of course to us it seems like you've' had other diversions and weren't really putting out as much Serena that could be there. Now have you come to the decision that you could become one of the greatest players of all time and just to settle on doing that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To be compared as one of the best players of all time is nothing I would ever -- it's such a good honor. My goal is just to do everything that I need to do on the court and do it right. I feel like that title will come.
Like I said, I've been really dedicated and have a lot of desire and have a lot of desire and determination. For me, it's all about tennis right now, and, you know, being healthy. That's my main goal, is to stay healthy. If I'm healthy and playing well, that's...

Q. Have you put all the other stuff aside then: Acting, fashion, all those things?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I mean, like -- again, right now, tennis is my No. 1 goal. You know, I actually haven't done anything in acting besides -- you know, in a while because I have been so focused.
So it's just a matter of time of everything coming to, you know, to play.

Q. Why did you make that decision, Serena, to sort of put that stuff on the back burner?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I wasn't making as much money. (laughter.) So I got to go back to the bread and butter. I really want to Birkin bag more than anything.

Q. Given the degree you can dominate out there and the start you had, were you surprised that she hung in there as well as she did for as long as she did?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Jelena is a great fighter. She seems to always be down match point and sometimes is coming back and winning. Not only that, the fact that she's a great player and fighter, also the fact I made mistakes I shouldn't have made and I missed shots I shouldn't have missed.
I didn't do the right -- the same thing that got me to be up a set 3-Love. It's more a factor of me allowing myself to be dominated, so I think if you factor in all those factors, then that's kind of what happened.

Q. The green clay and then the red clay in Europe, you're home now, how hard is it to change over? I think you're skipping Amelia but going to play Charleston.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm going to be practicing already getting ready for Charleston. I think the week off in Amelia will help me just to get back to sliding. I love to slide, so I look forward to, you know, being on the clay and sliding. You know, just -- the red clay, I'll be ready for it, too.

Q. Will you go up to Amelia and practice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I probably won't. One thing about this green clay, it's the same everywhere, so I'll be right here in South Florida.

Q. Is Jelena more unpredictable than others?
SERENA WILLIAMS: More predictable?

Q. Unpredictable in terms of you never know what you're going to get.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she's definitely unpredictable. She's hitting shots down the line and she'll mix it up and go crosscourt, she'll hit a lob. She's not someone you can say, I know she's going to do this at this point. You have to always be on your toes.

Q. What was your reaction to the crowd today, and did it help or hurt either one of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the crowd was really into the match. You know, I think it helped both of us, and critical points in the match.

Q. This steady focus on tennis, was that something that came within you, or did you talk to others about that, or how did that form itself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, everything -- it just came definitely within me, and just the fact that -- I don't know. Like I've always said I love tennis. It's always been my main goal. I just love the sport. More than anything I love winning.
And I don't like seeing -- I don't mind seeing Venus win, but mostly I like to at least try and be there and see what I can do so I can win.

Q. Big support from your box today, Serena. Your dad and the exuberant looking lady sitting next to him with the gold hat and everything. Did you draw a lot of support from that support today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My dad is always very supportive, as well as the exuberant looking lady. They both were, you know, always cheering. My dad, he's always so positive no matter what. I could hit a ball in the sky and he's like, That's okay. Good try. So he's always so positive.

Q. You look at American women's tennis and there's you and Venus and nothing else.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, obviously I feel like all the stuff myself and Venus and Lindsay and Chanda and Meghan Shaughnessy, all the players we've had and all the stuff we've been winning and doing, you would think there would be a few more. But maybe there's some, you know, just struggling right now, and hopefully they'll be able to come through.

End of FastScripts

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