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June 19, 2011

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, very pleased to have our a reigning ladies Wimbledon champion Serena Williams here. Who would like to ask the first question?

Q. You've come back on the tour after almost a year. Can you give us a sense of your preparation and has it been any different than in previous years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely been different this time around. Just pretty much similar preparation, just working out. Just having to work out a little bit harder because I'm starting from zero, whereas before I wasn't starting from zero.

Q. What was the low point for you this last year since you won at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I mean, probably just the disaster -- I would say probably the hematoma that I suffered, because after I had the lung problem, it was like, Okay, I got through that.
Then having to have a surgery, removing the hematoma, was just my low point. I felt it was never gonna end.

Q. So what was your physical condition at that time and what was your mental state at that moment?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, physical was, you know, obviously not excellent. But mentally I was just down. But, you know, I think that's normal. That is expected. I mean, it was what it was. I'm just trying to look forward to just moving on.
At that point, I obviously wasn't at that point. I was just, uhm, pretty upset and just wondering when this string of things would stop happening.

Q. You've been through a lot in your career. You had the 13 slams. You had the No. 1. Was there a point where you said, You know, this just isn't worth it anymore, I can go on with my life, don't have to play tennis anymore, start another career?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, never. I always thought I would want to continue to play. You know, I thought I would play a lot sooner; things didn't work out. But, uhm, you know, I'm never the type to stop. You know, I'll stop when I'm ready, and I'm just not ready. I really thoroughly enjoy being out here.

Q. Since Li Na wins the Roland Garros championship, everybody is talking about her. Do you have any words or advice to her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I saw here in Eastbourne. I congratulated her. She's really a good person, a great woman. It's always good to see someone win that not only deserves it and works hard, but also has a good heart.

Q. Maybe you two will meet in the semifinal. How do you predict the consequence or outcome?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Look, I got to get there, so... (Smiling).

Q. Did you feel anything last week in terms of you've obviously had some trauma to your lungs and maybe on some medication because of what happened. Did you feel it in your breathing on the court besides rust?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't. That was a blessing. I didn't feel anything after a three hours' match. I felt like the breaks were five seconds long. Every time I sat down, the umpire would call, Time. But I felt like I was able to go through it.
I was fine physically when I got off the court. My mom was so worried about me. I keep telling her I'm okay. She's like, If you feel anything, just stop. Come off the court. I'm like, Mom, the doctor said I would be okay.
So I didn't feel anything. I felt fine and I ran a lot and I felt good. I still feel pretty good.

Q. Did that surprise you, that it was as good as it was?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I mean, I talked to my doctors almost every day before I left, and he said I'll be fine. I said, So can I pretend this never happened? He said, Yeah, just pretend this never happened and you'll be fine.
I just had to get my lungs into better shape. I'm probably actually in better shape running-wise than I was before.

Q. How were you able to get your conditioning back so quickly? It's only been a couple months or six or seven weeks where you could really go full out.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. I really don't know. I work with this guy who's a machine, so...
I don't know. We'll see.

Q. Are you doing anything differently than in the past in that area of training?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have to do things differently 'cause I had to expand my lung capacity, because I lost a little bit of my lung. So I had to expand it and just work on it and do better.

Q. What did the tour miss when it didn't have you playing this last year? What do you think is back when you're back?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think the tour missed just not having me around. But I really just missed not being around the tour. I missed the ladies in the locker room. I missed laughing. I missed having matches. I missed the tour.
You know, I hope it missed me, but I know I missed the tour.

Q. Have you had any special reaction from fellow players since you came back either in Eastbourne or here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, everyone's so, you know, professional. Everyone's nice and asks how I'm doing. It's good. I think a lot of people are just, you know, getting ready and playing as well. It's all been very positive reaction.

Q. Are they happy you're back or they're afraid of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I feel everyone's happy and just content, you know. Like we're fine. Women's tennis is doing so well and still have an opportunity to do well.

Q. What did you learn about where your game is at in Eastbourne? What are your hopes and expectations coming in here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I learned that, uhm, my game's doing pretty good. There's some things that I want to work on and improve, but I can't be upset at all about my game. I think it's doing well.
You know, it's fun. I feel like I'm young again. I have goals that I set for myself and goals that I want to achieve. It's good to have those goals to do.

Q. Was there any particular shot you really missed hitting, that when you came back in practice and hit the first one Serena-like that felt like a serve or a forehand or...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely a serve, but I didn't travel with my serve to Eastbourne, so I hope it came with me. I hope he was in my luggage coming to Wimbledon, because I've missed him (smiling).
But on the practice court in Florida I was serving and I was like, Wow, I feel so good. That's amazing. I was singing that Kanye West song, "Blank" Ridiculous. It's how I felt at the time, like wow. But he didn't. I was just like, Please, come back.
Hopefully I'll have a good serve this week, fortnight.

Q. You spoke of missing the tour and the tour missing you. What is the void on the tour when you're not here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't know. I mean, maybe some extra color, I guess. I don't know (laughter).
I think the tour's doing fine. Great new campaigns going on, so much going on in women's tennis. There's so much depth in women's tennis. It's good.

Q. When you heard that there was going to be a rematch of that Isner match from last year in the first round this year, what was your reaction and what do you remember most from last year's match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I thought it was a joke. I thought, Oh, this is a joke, you know. And I thought, Well, is it really real? Is it really true?
Then I thought, Okay, for sure I won't have to play after 'em because I know I'm first on, so...
I was like, Whew. Thank God.

Q. What do you remember most from last year's match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just remember it being so long. I remember it was during World Cup. I watched that and then I switched to watch USA play World Cup. I kept thinking, It's never going to end.
Then three days later they're still going. I remember saying, I would have been like, Peace, at this point. Then I thought it was a third-round match on like the Friday, and I realized it was a first-round match. And I was like, no way. So...

Q. After everything you've been through in the past year, where would you rank in your career to retain your title here at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Nothing. I mean, it would be awesome and amazing, but that's not my thought process. My thought process is just to play the best I can and to be positive. You know, I'm happy to have been here. Like we were saying, six or seven weeks of just trying to get myself together isn't a tremendous amount of time, but the fact that I can even compete and be in a position I wasn't sure I'd have a chance to be at again is more than enough.

Q. Looking at the state of women's tennis this year, who do you think are going to be your toughest competitors or challengers in Wimbledon 2011?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone. I'm telling you, everyone's playing so hard. No one wants to go down. You get match point, doesn't matter, you got to really focus. Everyone's playing tough.

Q. Maybe a little bit lost in the fact that you haven't played since Wimbledon is that your sister's only played two tournaments since Wimbledon, and they happened to be two big ones. I was wondering if you were able to spend more time or less time with her than if you had been on the tour on a full-time basis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, we spent a lot more time together because we both were off. We both haven't played pretty much at all. And, uhm, yeah, it's been good because, you know - sometimes I hate to say it - but when you're down, it's always good to see someone down with you (laughter).
And she was down with me. I was like, Ha-ha. Maybe we'll come back together.

Q. At what moment were you most bored out of your mind?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, there wasn't a dull moment at all. We haven't had any dull or bored moments.

Q. You described yourself as feeling you were on your death bed literally. Were you afraid for your life at various points?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I wasn't. I was really calm. I was just more concerned about my parents and stuff.
But I really felt fine. I felt like, you know, I was -- I felt like even though I was in a life-threatening situation, uhm, in an extremely serious situation, had it not been addressed straightaway, I felt like, I don't know, this calm came over here. Like I just wanted to be strong more than anything.

Q. When you got seeded, did you know what to expect as far as how they were going to seed you and did you have any problems with where you were seeded?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't know. I don't ask for much. I don't expect much. The only thing I expect is what I can give myself and what I do for myself.
I would have been fine seeded where my ranking is because all my life I've worked extremely hard for everything, and that's not gonna happen. That's not gonna stop today; that's not gonna stop tomorrow. I'm going to continue to work hard. To me, whatever, it doesn't matter.

Q. What have you learned most through your health struggles?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I've learned that health is key, and there's nothing better than being healthy. I also learned that, you know, I feel like I have a lot -- you know, things build character in people. Overcoming certain obstacles, overcoming being down match point as opposed to overcoming something else is two totally different things.
Life is too short, so have a drink. I'm just kidding (laughter).

Q. You've had so much success here. Does it sort of feel strange coming in without the confidence that you would have had in previous years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it doesn't. Uhm, I definitely do think I have confidence. But, uhm, I'm just taking it a match at a time.

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