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January 31, 2012

Mary Joe Fernandez

Liezel Huber

Christina McHale

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone, for coming.  We would like to welcome the U.S. Fed Cup team with captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

Q.  Serena, you were No.1 for a very long time.  How do you feel to be playing the world No.1 coming up?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I feel fine.  I played a lot of No.1's.  It doesn't change anything.

Q.  Serena, could you talk about being back in Fed Cup, what it's like playing this event.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It feels good being back.  I've really missed it.  I look forward to it.
I love the team camaraderie.  It's a lot of fun.  It's exciting.

Q.¬† Christina, coming off a great Australian Open, I know you trained really hard in the off‑season.¬† How did you prepare for the upcoming matches here and how is your confidence right now?
CHRISTINA McHALE:¬† Yeah, I had a good off‑season.¬† I was, yeah, pleased with Australia.¬† I would have liked to have done a little bit better.
But I'm excited to be here, excited to be with the team.

Q.  Christina, you faced Azarenka before.  Can you talk about that.  Is there any excitement at all to be able to play against her again?
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Yeah, the last time we played, she had an injury so she had to pull out.
I'm excited.  I'm excited to be here.  I'm excited to play.  We'll see what happens.

Q.  It's one thing to prepare for individual competition like Australia.  How do you prepare for a team event like this?
LIEZEL HUBER:  Well, I think we're still individuals.  Every day when we go out there, we practice what we have to.
I think the thing about teamwork comes in whether you're playing or you're sitting on the bench cheering, it's the same as if you're hitting the ball out there.
There will be some of us that won't get a chance to play, but at the end of the day it's about the team.  I think we're very individual but we all support the team.
It's unlike football where you kind of have to strategize and work together.  I think we do strategize, we talk about our opponents, what their weaknesses are, what we'd like to accomplish.  At the end of the day, everybody just does their best, that makes up a strong team.  That's the way I look at it.

Q.  How is the ankle?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  The ankle is better.  Every day it's feeling better.  It's not a hundred percent.  But it's better than it was last week and two weeks ago.
It just needs time to heal.

Q.  Christina, I know you've been on the Fed Cup team a couple times before.  First time with the Williams sisters.  Can you talk about participating for your country with some of the greatest U.S. players of all time.
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Yeah, it's a huge honor for me to be on all the Fed Cup teams I've played on.  I'm really looking forward to this week.  I'm excited.

Q.  Mary Joe, you have three phenomenal doubles players on your team.  How are you going to pick two?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  You can't play three on one side (laughter)?
I tend to make my decisions really last minute.  So we'll just see how the tie is going, who is playing well, who is fresh, then we'll go from there.  But we have good options.

Q.  Serena, how have you been preparing since you got back from Australia, with the ankle in mind?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It was good to take a few days off 'cause it was such an acute injury.  I've actually been doing pretty well.  I hit some balls.  I trained a little bit.  I've been doing more than normally I would have done with an injury like this because I knew I had Fed Cup coming up.
That being said, yeah, I just keep going with it.  Pretty much the same training regimen.

Q.  Serena, it's one thing to be playing tennis.  You played against your sister from time to time.  Both of you are on the same team.  What is that going to be like?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's fun.  We played on the same team a few times.  We always have a blast.  We always make the best of everything.
We really enjoy every moment together because we don't sometimes get to spend a lot of time together.  It's something that we really enjoy.

Q.  With Venus' sickness, her being able to come back, what was it like playing against her in that exhibition?  How do you feel she's coming along?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  She's coming along awesome.  She's doing really well.  I know she's training every day.  She's not wanting to take it too fast, come back too soon.  But she's been training every day since before Columbia, so I know she's going to be ready.

Q.  Serena, I know you were disappointed with Australia, but have you put that behind you and started looking forward?  That must have been really tough to leave that early.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, you know, I don't leave any tournament too early.  Usually I try not to.  Definitely not Australia.  I do best there.
It was a tough situation.  You know, I just feel like I can keep going.  I don't dwell on the past too much.  I just try to make better changes and do better in the future.

Q.  Mary Joe, your thoughts about Belarus, your competition.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Yeah, it's a tough matchup, having Azarenka coming off winning in Australia.  She's confident.  That's always tough.  Then their other players are good.  Yakimova, Govortsova have been in the top hundred.  I think Yakimova is around 60 in the world.  They have different game styles so we'll see who they choose to play.
We'll do our best.  We'll prepare as well as we can.  We'll get ready to take each match at a time.

Q.  Mary Joe, can you talk about Christina a little bit, what her strengths are as a player, the momentum she gained with her performance over the last year.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I've had Christina on many teams already.  I've loved seeing her progress.  She's one of the hardest workers out there.  She's gotten stronger, fitter.  She's got a big game.  It's great to see all of that paying off.
The last season, having the good wins she did, Wozniacki over the summer, doing well at the Open, doing well in Australia, is proof she is where she belongs and she's on her way to doing better things.
It's wonderful to have her back on the team.

Q.  Any different being in the second group?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Not really.  I mean, it's the first time the U.S. has ever been in the second group.  But you take each tie as a new experience.  We're going to do our very best to get back in the World Group.
But it doesn't really change your outlook on the matchup.  You got to win three matches, and that's going to be our goal.

Q.  Christina, any friends and family making the trip up or have they abandoned you for the Giants and the Super Bowl?
CHRISTINA McHALE:  Some of my friends are going to come up for the matches, so that will be nice.  It's pretty close.

Q.  Serena, who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I was rooting for the Dolphins.  So didn't do so well.  I always root for the younger brother.

Q.  When you look at the singles matches, how do you determine who is going to take on who?  Is there a way of determining that?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Well, you know that 1 plays 2 the first day, then 1 plays 1 on the second day, 2 versus 2.
It's sort of a last‑minute decision.¬† We'll see how everybody is playing.¬† We have options for singles and for doubles.¬† We'll try to make the best choice at the time.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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