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September 3, 2011
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
S. WILLIAMS/V. Azarenka
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.
Q. Were you injured when you ran into the wall and did the splits?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I wasn't injured at all.
Q. Have you ever done splits quite that good?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I didn't see it. I didn't look up on the big screen, so...
Q. How fast did those first five games go by? Was that as good as you could play tennis for 17 minutes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I played really well. I was doing the right things. Uhm, you know, I probably should have kept doing those things.
Q. What is your secret? How can you play so well for such a long time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just worked hard. I mean, I was a pretty good player before. So just trying to get back into that rhythm and feel it again. You know, that's all I can say. I don't know.
Q. Do you have a special kind of practicing or strength?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don't know. I just keep praying and that's all I can do.
Q. Azarenka was saying she thinks you're playing some of your best tennis since she's played you. Would you agree with that statement?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think in the first set I played some really good tennis. I think in the second set she played really, really good tennis. She kind of dictated and I allowed that.
I probably could have played better in the second, but it's good to know that I -- some things I want to work on.
Q. 5-3 in the second set when it looked like you had won the match, you were kind of walking off. Then the line umpire made the call. You asked for the review. Is it hard to get back in the mindset of, I have to keep playing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, to be honest, I thought that ball was out, so I was in the mindset of that ball is gonna be out. You know, when I challenged it, I thought maybe by chance it was in. But it wasn't in. It was out, so...
Q. Your dad just said at one point he thought you really were going to leave us, you were going to die. What were your thoughts on that situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, well, I actually was really calm, you know, because I didn't want to alert my parents or, you know, my family or anything. I got really, really, really calm and just like relaxed and really easy.
I think that's the calmest I've ever been in my life, you know, just trying to be strong for everyone else.
Q. Azarenka said that first 17 minutes, five games, the best way she could describe it is 'painful.' What is it like from your standpoint to be dominating like that, and how would you describe the feeling when you're playing that well?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, uhm, it's a good feeling, for sure. And I don't know. Like, I mean, I think every player wants to play that way but stay in that zone. I give her all credit. She totally lifted up her game and she totally started playing better.
Q. For you, is there a feeling you can really capture, throughout your career, there are those times where you feel invincible? What is that like for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It feels amazing. I haven't felt invincible, and I didn't really feel invincible today. There's just been very few times I ever felt like that way and I don't recall them.
Q. Was this the quality of a semi or final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely, I think the whole match was a semifinal. At the end of the day, it was a third round. I'm only in the Round of 16 now. So, you know, I got to keep going the best I can.
Q. Was there a bit of a shock to you when you had three match points, and then the next thing you know it's 5-All, a major battle that you may not get out of as quickly?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I mean, I felt on the match points I maybe could have played more aggressive. But for the most part I think she played well. It's really annoying when you just blow the shots for no reason. I don't feel like I blew the shots. I just felt like she played well and I didn't play aggressive enough.
But she lifted her game. She got really just relaxed, it seems, just hitting great shots. So it's actually easier to lose match points like that as opposed to just hitting the ball, spraying one out.
Q. Then your reaction at the end of the match, what was your feeling? Was it happy? Relief? A little bit of unhappiness because you almost let it go?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I definitely wasn't happy with the way I played overall today. I think my serve, especially in the second set, pretty much -- I mean, I was below 50%. You know, I was a wee bit disappointed. But, I mean, I can build on it.
Q. Is that why she was getting returns in, because your serve dropped a little bit? Was she narrowing in on the range some?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's a really good returner. So she's gonna be able to return well and do well. So, uhm, she actually is a good returner.
Q. If you've ever felt like you've been in the zone, have you felt like it during that time or maybe afterwards?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, if I was in a zone, it didn't last long.
Q. In the big picture, with your weapons, on a slow hard court, how do you think you'd do against Steffi and Martina at their peaks?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think I don't know. I don't know.
Steffi was such a good player, and I have played her. She did beat me once. I'm not sure if I was at my peak. I thought I played really well, though. I was young. I played Martina but only in doubles.
But I think serve and volley could be a little tricky, especially to have such amazing hands. Even when I played her in doubles, her hands were unbelievable, so... I don't know.
Q. In the debate, those two as the best of all time, which would you give the edge to?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think that's a fair question because I think each generation is different. Like, I mean, Margaret Court was great, and then you had Billie Jean King who was amazing. But maybe I would beat those two players at my peak. So I don't think it's fair.
Q. How were you feeling fitness-wise at the end of the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt fine. You know, I was prepared for a third set if I went too nuts.
Q. How well do you know Sloane Stephens at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I actually don't know her really well. I mean, yeah, I don't.
Q. You never interacted with her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I try to say hi to her in the locker room when I see her. It's always good to see someone young that's American and doing well. I know she did well in San Diego, so...
But I don't really know her well at all.
Q. Having gone through such a terrible experience, does it make you even hungrier to win and want to win? You seem to have more of that fire. Or does it put everything in perspective, tennis is just gravy and I'll take whatever?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's a little bit of the latter: tennis is great, I'll take anything, puts everything in perspective. I love playing tennis, I love the battle, you know, but I realize that life is so precious and things could be a lot worse. It isn't all about, you know, tennis. It's about life.
Q. How is Venus doing and what sweet gestures are you doing to make her feel better?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's doing better. You know, it's a day-at-a-time kind of thing. Her spirits are better. I don't know, I'm not the best -- I'm the spoiled little sister. She always takes care of me, so...
Q. Not rubbing her feet or back for her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Nah.
Q. Can you talk about potentially facing Ana Ivanovic next round?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she's playing well. She's incredibly fit right now. She was No. 1, right, at one point, so...
Q. Would Venus feel better if you won this Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she would definitely be happy. Obviously I would be happy also if she had won or whatever. I think it will be really exciting for her.
Q. The other day you said you hate to lose. Your dad said that first emerged when you lost to Venus when you were seven years old. Does that ring true to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I just hate losing. But I think sometimes when you lose it propels you to more wins. Like when I lost at Wimbledon, I was determined to do better. So it works.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports