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January 20, 2009

Serena Williams


6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you and Venus ever get together and say, It's us or the United States has nothing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, we never do that. I mean, we always try to believe there's new talent coming. We just continue to play really hard in hopes of someone from the United States is inspired by us.

Q. How did you handle the heat today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was a little hot for me today. But I was able to just, you know, take my time and play a lot slower, not giving a thousand percent.

Q. What do you think about the fact that the extreme heat policy is at the discretion of the referee? Do you think it should be more subjective; if it hits a certain temperature, they should call the match off?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the referees are pretty good at doing their job mostly. I think, for the most part, they would be able to make the right decision.

Q. Can you describe to us how stifling it is, how difficult it makes it out there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was really hot today. It was more of a dry heat. It wasn't so much humidity out there, which is actually better than the humidity. But it was definitely extreme conditions. I think it was extreme conditions today.

Q. With your present silhouette, do you suppose you're able to bear the heat better than one day you might have?
SERENA WILLIAMS: With my present?

Q. What I'm trying to say is you seem much more slender than we've seen you at other times. Did that help you to bear up with all that heat?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I mean, maybe with the fat I would be able to, like, absorb more of the heat (laughter). It wouldn't necessarily bother me, so I don't know (smiling).

Q. Did you do something different conditioning-wise in the off-season this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, just worked, you know, a lot in the off-season. But I still enjoyed myself and relaxed.

Q. It seems like you manage your first-, second-, and third-round matches better than you did five or six years ago. You don't play outside of yourself; you know what you have to do to just get through.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. I think like going out there today in this heat, I think it was pretty important for me not to, you know, I don't know, go crazy out there, try and conserve some energy. Keep in mind, I am playing doubles here, as well. I definitely want to do well in both events.

Q. 31 unforced errors, was the heat a factor in that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Just my technique was a lot of the factor. Definitely high unforced errors for me now.
I think I hit some pretty solid shots. Sometimes I even went for some shots just to try something different.

Q. Are you superstitious at all? Do you think there's anything to the odd-year theory of you winning here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I am superstitious. But is there anything to the odd theory? No. One year I wasn't able to come back and defend my title. One year I went crazy. A couple years I went completely crazy. So hopefully I'll be able to stay focused this year.

Q. How would you define "completely crazy"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Just making errors for no reason, acting up out there. I don't know. Playing like a loser, I guess.

Q. Do you think about the streak when you go into first-round matches like this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I try not to because it makes me a little nervous if I think about it. No matter what happens, I'm still going on strong with not losing in the first round.

Q. In this tournament, you've had so much success. You've come in when you've played a lot. You've come in when you haven't played a lot, better form, not great form. Is it really a matter of being mentally fresh for you at this tournament; is that why you think you've had success here? Is it something else?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. Maybe a new year, wanting to start out the year well. Also, it seems to not matter in what condition I come in here, I'm able to at least play a solid game. I honestly can't answer that.

Q. Your outfit was nice today. What inspired your choice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Thanks. It was a pattern. Most of the time the outfits are always solid. But I love patterns. I'm really inspired by prints, like Pucci, and things like that.
Actually with that, I did the design. We had someone come over. I remember I was sitting in my apartment. I literally had to go to like different websites, not websites, but pages on the computer and kind of graphically design the pattern. So it was interesting. You know, it was just really weird concepts. We came up with some circles and some lines, just kind of things like that. It was cool.

Q. How long did it take you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It didn't take long. Probably took like two hours at the most, so...

Q. Sounds like you have a bit of a head cold. Are you feeling all right?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling good. I do have a little bit of a head cold. I hope it goes away, though.

Q. Big night back home for Americans with the inauguration. Can I ask you what that means to you? Also, early hours of the morning tomorrow. Will you try and wake up and watch it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: This is an amazing moment for American history. Even yesterday, the United States being Martin Luther King's birthday. To have his birthday and Obama's presidency fall so close to each other. This morning I was watching on the TV before I went out to play. I looked at my arm, and I literally had chill bumps.
I'm a big fan of African American history, learning my roots so I can be a better person. You just look at all the things that we've come through. Now to have this opportunity in less than 24 hours is amazing.
I don't know, I'll probably record it. I need my rest for this tournament. But it's definitely something that I probably will look at.

Q. Is it inspiring for you and your sister? Do you feel in some ways yourself and Venus have done in a sporting sense what Obama has done in a political sense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think myself and Venus has opened up a lot of doors, being the first African Americans to do so much in tennis. But I never really look at that. I just look at trying to stay focused.
At the end of my career, I always thought I would go back and kind of dwell on that, because I don't want to get complacent and be like, Oh, I did this, I did that. It can become easy to become complacent with nine Grand Slams and counting (laughter).

Q. If you were to take another Australian Open, that would be 10. Would you prefer to be doing that at home, be taking the US Open to make it the 10th Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. I probably should already have had 10. Wherever it comes, I'll be ready and willing and able to accept it.

Q. You've said before that you don't vote, you're not political. You don't want to participate in the political process because of religious belief, I'm guessing. Talk about how that mixes with the excitement of Obama, who obviously won a political race to become President.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't vote because I am a Jehovah's Witness. I try to stay politically neutral, don't get involved in worldly matters.
It's easy for me because I was born and raised a Jehovah's Witness. For me, because I am black, seeing that happen, I would be blind if I didn't take interest in it or I would be lying if I said I wasn't interested in what was going on. Obviously I am. Obviously I was listening to a lot of points that Obama was giving for his election. Some of the things that he said in order to get elected was interesting.
But it's not a hard position for me to take. I mean, hopefully the right thing will happen. But, you know, I think it's an important position for me to take in my faith.

Q. Given it is such an important part of world history, does it have an impact on you, maybe extra motivation to win this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I wish I could get motivated from that. Maybe I should think about it. But that hasn't particularly motivated me to do better in this tournament.
Other things have motivated me.

Q. Back to being a Jehovah's Witness, do you do any door-knocking and preaching?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's part of being a Witness, going door-to-door. I do a lot of what they call informal witnessing. I'm actually trying to do a lot of door-to-door witnessing.

Q. In Melbourne, do you go to any of the churches?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We went Sunday. It's called a Kingdom Hall. My mother and sister went to the Kingdom Hall. Venus went a couple times because she was here before me. It's fun to go to different areas and go to different Kingdom Halls.

Q. Are there any superstitions you have in Australia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's just one shower I always use here. You know, I always want the same locker, but I can't remember for the life of me what locker I use, so... I guess it doesn't necessarily work.

Q. Have you been doing a bit of shopping?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have been keeping my shopping at a minimal with this economy thing (smiling). I've had to make major cutbacks, me and my company. We've been keeping shopping to the minimum.

Q. When you say that, you mean it feels a little too ostentatious in a time with a lot of people starving to wear millions of dollars worth of jewelry?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not saying that. You have to, I think, live your life. I love giving, so I love philanthropy. I just have been trying to do a lot with that more lately.

End of FastScripts

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