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February 4, 2012

Mary Joe Fernandez

Serena Williams


USA – 2
Belarus – 0

S. WILLIAMS/O. Govortsova
7‑5, 6‑0

THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Serena Williams and Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

Q.  Serena, what was different in the second set?  Close call in the first.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I relaxed a little bit and started making more shots.  I thought she played excellent in the first set.  She played pretty well in the second set, but I didn't make as many errors, yeah.

Q.  Mentioning the errors, do you think that comes from not playing as many matches?  And was the ankle a factor today?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't think either was a factor really.  I think I just needed to, you know, be more relaxed and just make my shots.

Q.  It seemed like you could tell something was going wrong in the first set.  What adjustments did you make as you started the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think she played well in the first set.  Had a couple opportunities, went for broke.  It was good for her.
I definitely could have probably played better.  I'm just working my way to that point, to just doing a little better.

Q.  Serena, as a tennis player you don't get to play a lot of matches where a crowd is entirely on your side.  What is it like being here and having the crowd cheering for you almost unanimously?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's excellent.  I get to kind of feel what it feels like.  It feels really good.  I love that people can come out and cheer for their country.  Thankfully we're playing here in the United States, and we're playing for the United States, so the crowd is going for the United States.

Q.  A lot of other sports have home field, home court advantage.  In tennis you don't really get that much.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, you don't really have it.  If I play in Miami or L.A., those are kind of home‑court advantages for me.  Other than that, it's like kind of rare.

Q.  How surprised were you both to learn that Vika had pulled out today and when did you find out?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I was warming up with Christina.  So maybe an hour before.  I was surprised.  I saw her practice the last couple days.  She was in the gym this morning.  It came as a surprise to me.

Q.  Do you expect her to play tomorrow?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Who knows.  Maybe.

Q.  Mary Joe, will you change things up at all if Serena plays the first match and it's not decided, would you put Venus in singles?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I don't know.  I kind of wait to see each match, how it goes, and talk to the players, see how everybody is feeling.  As it is now, it's as it is on the schedule.

Q.  You're up two matches to none right now.  What adjustments do you make going into Sunday, if any?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  You always want to adjust.  You always want to improve and get better.  I know personally I want to get better.  That's my whole adjustment, is do the whole thing and just play better.

Q.  Mary Joe, can you talk about Christina's first match.  She played outstanding the first set.  You were giving her a bunch of advice on the court.  Were you proud of the way she handled the match?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I was very proud.  That's one of the things Christina has been working on:  closing matches.  When you get nervous, being able to push through that, and she did.
The first 10 games she played unbelievable tennis.  She really moved well, was in control of the majority of the points.  I was really happy that she stayed strong mentally and was able to close it out at the end.

Q.  Talk a little bit about how you don't ever really know what's going to happen in Fed Cup, and that's what makes it interesting.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  It's true.  In the team competition, anything can happen.  So you just have to be ready for every match, approach every match as a big match.  Even though we're up 2‑Love, there's a lot of work to be done still.
We'll focus on that first one and go from there.  I have been on teams where you're up 2‑Love, it gets tied, you're down 2‑Love, it gets tied.  You just have to get ready.  The next match is a big match again.

Q.  Your thoughts about the playing surface here.  I notice Christina and Serena handled it well, and the members of the Belarus team combined had 16 or 17 double‑faults.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  I don't think double‑faults (indiscernible).  I mean, they've been here all week, too.  We've been here all week practicing on it.  Plenty of time to get used to the surface and the conditions.

Q.  Serena, has it been explained to you one way or the other whether playing this Fed Cup will be enough to meet the requirements to get into the Olympics?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't know.  I'm just here to play this one, as many as I can.
I wanted to play last year, but that was impossible.  I got incredibly sick.  The year before I ended up having surgery.  Actually more than that.
So, yeah, it just didn't work out in the past.  I'm glad I'm able to play this year.  I wish I could have played last year or the year before, but it just didn't work out.

Q.  A little bit ago we talked to some of the ATP players about who they would like to play mixed with in the Olympics.  Your name came up unanimously.  The Bryans, Roddick, Isner.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  A girl loves to have choices (laughter).
I don't know.  Obviously the Bryans are like the world's test doubles players.  Andy and I are super, super close.  Personally I love John.  You're not going to break the guy.  It's an automatic I don't know how many games.
I think it's so hard to choose.  I don't know if you just throw everyone's name in a hat and figure out what happens next.
Regardless, we want to do really well and take home a medal for the country.  That's what it's all about.

Q.  Serena, I know it's shortly after the match, but how is your ankle feeling?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's feeling fine.  I'm surprised as how well it's doing considering the diagnosis ‑ I can't say that word.  That and aluminum (laughter).
Yeah, I'm actually really excited about the progress of it.  Each day it gets better.  Each week it gets better.

Q.  Serena, I wanted to ask you about Christina's performance.  You have a lot more experience with Fed Cup.  What advice have you given her?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I don't really give good advice.  I'm like the world's worst coach.  The advice I gave her I don't think is professional enough.
I just told her to relax and have fun.  I honestly think she's a great player.  I've been practicing with her all week.  I've thoroughly enjoyed hitting with her.  So it's been a really good experience for all of us and definitely for me.

Q.  I noticed during the draw ceremony, you were giving her some posing advice.  Do you think you can impose some of your swagger on her?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  That's probably all I can do, stand in the T.  Yeah, that's about it (laughter).

Q.  Also you were wearing your red, white and blue shoes today.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, right.

Q.  Is this the Black History Month headband?

Q.  Did you design that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It was designed off different countries, namely Brazil, Kenya and the state of Mississippi, the flag colors.  It's good.  I loved that design.  This is kind of what we went with.
It's February, it's Fed Cup, it kind of matches the red, white and blue scheme.  I'm going to continue to wear it throughout the whole month of February.

Q.  Have you thought about trying to balance the three events at the Olympics, if that's possible?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I thought about it.  Next week I'm going to start getting super fit.  I figure from now to July, August, I have time.

Q.  Do you think an Olympic gold is a goal for you this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It is.  I kind of favor Grand Slams.  But, again, my Olympic gold is like my most favorite thing that I have.  It's definitely a big goal for me.

Q.  Where is that Olympic gold?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I have two.  I have one in L.A. and one in Florida.

Q.  Are they displayed prominently?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I have them tucked away because I don't want anything to happen to them.

Q.  The way the rankings are right now, it's possible that Venus will not get in on singles, and she can't come in on doubles if Liezel and Lisa are the doubles team.  Have you talked to Venus about that?  Mary Joe, do you have any thoughts?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  We have a lot of time.  We have to get closer, see what the rankings are.  Venus has been getting better, getting better every day.  Hopefully she'll do well.  No point now in discussing it because we don't know what's going to happen yet.

Q.  Serena, is there part of you that will be disappointed if Vika doesn't play tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't think about that.  I honestly want to play her.  I think it would be fun for me and for her and for the crowd, more than anything.  But we'll see.  It doesn't really matter.

Q.  Mary Joe, I saw Venus in practice this week.  She was moving pretty well.  How much of the decision not to play her in singles was her decision and how much was it yours?  Did you talk about it?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:  Yeah, we talked about it quite a bit.  I mean, the most important thing that I'm happy with is that she's feeling healthy.  Every day she's feeling stronger.  She hasn't played a match since the US Open.  That's a long time.  She has to work her way back into it.
Every day she's been getting better, so that's the most positive news.  After talking about it, Christina has been playing a lot of tennis, is very match fit, so we decided to go with Christina.

Q.  Was it a mutual decision between you two?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Last question.

Q.  What is it going to be like for you tonight?  You have to focus on a match tomorrow and you know that Venus is supposed to come back.  Is that going to be hard to juggle two things?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it's going to be a little difficult, but I'm going to try to relax, you know, have a team dinner, talk about our game plan, go from there.  That's all we can do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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