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September 9, 2012

Serena Williams


S. WILLIAMS/V. Azarenka
6‑2, 2‑6, 7‑5

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  As Mary Carillo said, it was a snappy summer for you on the court.  The season is not over, but the Grand Slam season to be capped by that victory, just talk about the experience.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It was such a great experience.  Gosh, it really is amazing.  I came in the summer knowing it was going to be a long summer, but I knew that I could do well if I just put my mind to it.
I knew that I could just be a good player and a champion this summer.  I never expected to win all these titles.
The highlight has just been so amazing.  Everything has been so amazing, so it's just been fabulous.

Q.  What are your thoughts specifically on how you rescued this match from being down 5‑3 and two points away from losing?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Whew, I don't know.  I just thought ‑‑ I was on serve; at 30‑All I figured I could serve that out and just make her serve for it.  It's the least I could have done.  The least I could have done is I wanted to at least hold my serve, and I hadn't been holding my serve very well.
After that, I thought if I could just force another game ‑‑and obviously I never give up.  I never, never quit.  I have come back so many times in so many matches.  I wasn't too nervous.
I just thought if I could get to the next game, if I could get to ‑‑ it was always the next game.

Q.  Your serve wasn't the best ever today.  What did you do outside of that to make up for not winning many easy service points?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think I competed really well.  Know, I never stopped competing no matter what, and I think sometimes if you can just go out and compete, then you can continue to do well.

Q.  Does it give you more satisfaction in a way that you won struggling a bit?  Because after six matches winning so easily, I mean, to have someone that fights and you have to recover over, is it not better?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It definitely is better as long as you're on the winning side; it's no good if you're on the losing side.
Looking back, when you look back at the film and footage, it's always really exciting to see that it was a close match.
Obviously I would have wanted to win easy.  But at the same time, this is more exciting to win because you don't really know what's coming.  You don't know what to expect, and then you get it.
This is the most best feeling I think in tennis.

Q.  When there was a foot fault called, I'm just wondering if things flashed through your mind then, past Opens, and what it means that you held things together and things didn't get crazy here.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, this is the first year I didn't ‑‑ in a long time I haven't lost my cool.
No, I think everyone thought about last year.  That's never on my mind, because I was just focused.  I was just thinking, Okay, which foot was it?  So I would know not to do that again.

Q.  You won this Grand Slam in '99; of course this is now 13 years later, if I do my math correctly.  That's a bit of history right there.  That's the longest span in a single Grand Slam for any individual to win.  It says a lot about longevity; it says a lot about consistency; it says a lot about determination.  Just talk about that.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It hasn't even sunk in that I'm the winner yet.  It's awesome.
Yeah, three decades.  The '90s, 2000s, 2010s, that's kinda cool.
Yeah, I just think that it's exciting to have this opportunity.  And 13 years is a long time between the first and the last.  It's just a great ‑‑I was reading yesterday or this morning how Pete Sampras won in '90 and 2002.  That was a 12‑year span.  That was pretty awesome.
For me to get this in 13 years was just ‑‑and I'm at No. 15 now?  It's so cool.  I'm so excited.

Q.  And to do it here.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  And to do it here.  To cap off the gold medal and then to come from the gold medal to win US Open is unforgettable.  I'm really so excited.

Q.  Big picture‑wise, I don't know any other athlete who has more ups, downs disasters, breakups, fans yelling at them, surgeries, surprise wins.  Even this year you had a mess at the French Open.  Could you just take a moment and talk about all the ups and downs.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't think about the downs too much.  I hope I never think about them as my life continues.  But I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.
I have fallen several times.  Each time I just get up and I dust myself off and I pray and I'm able to do better or I'm able to get back to the level that I want to be on.
So I feel really awesome that I have been able to do that and that I can do that and I have done that.
I think, for me, like you see great people like Muhammad Ali, for instance, who is a complete person I have always looked up to in sports.  He went to jail for so long and he came back as a champion again.
So I just really think that really defines a champion.

Q.  This has more meaning perhaps after the past two Opens you have had here?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Oh, for sure.  I mean, I was in the hospital last year ‑‑was it last year or ‑‑I think so.  Yeah, it was last year, 2011.  Yeah.
So, you know, it means a lot.  To win Wimbledon is always so special, but coming to your home country and winning this one is always ‑‑it's just awesome.
And to win two in a year, it's great.  I'm really, really excited.  Like I can't even ‑‑I don't know what to do.  I don't know what to do.

Q.  What did you think of the quality of that match?  Were there times in the second and third sets where you felt like you almost had to dial down your emotions, you know, on your groundstrokes so that you weren't so hyped up?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I definitely had to relax.  I feel like the more relaxed I am, the better I play.  I got a little tense, a little bit tight, and things weren't looking good.  The more I stayed calm, I won more points.
I was making a lot of errors and I thought, Gosh, I was playing better.  But it was important for me just to stay relaxed and just to do the best that I could.

Q.  Could you go back to Eastbourne when you came back last year ‑ not in perfect shape because you had been in the hospital, not sure about your game ‑ and think about where you were then and bring it all the way to here?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's been crazy.  I was just telling I think my mom the other day, I was playing Wimbledon the fourth round against Bartoli and I was running and fighting, and at one point I was seeing stars because I was so tired and I couldn't breathe and I didn't have the lung capacity that I needed.
But I kept fighting and I kept saying, It's okay, just fight for the next point.  I really, really tried.  After that I tried to get in even better shape.  I didn't have as much time before Wimbledon during Eastbourne to get as fit as I wanted to.  I kept doing and kept trying and trying new things, you know, always looking to see what I can do better or what I can do to add to my game to make it better.
So then I had a great summer last year.  You know, even though I lost in the final, I still thought it was a really, really awesome summer.  This year has been ‑‑the whole year has been great.
You know, my goal was to make the Olympics, and I did it.  Yeah.  It's awesome.

Q.  Athletes can use losses as well as wins as tools for motivation.  How do those work for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Losses really motivate me.  Like I really want to go home and work hard and do better.
And then wins motivate me as well because I'm a perfectionist.  I am always like, What could I have done better?  Why didn't I do this more?  What can I do better to win easier?
So, for me, obviously I think for sure losses motivate me a little more; but due to the fact that I don't want to lose, I always try to get motivated by wins.

Q.  How would you rank your motivation right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Oh, my gosh.  My motivation is so up there.  I'm so motivated to just stay focused.  I just feel like I'm ready for the next tournament.  I really want to be focused and do well there and just keep the dream alive.

Q.  The crowd was incredible, a lot of support, a lot of chanting for you.  Have you ever felt that great embrace as you did today?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I really felt good last year as well against Sam.  I thought they were rooting for Victoria a lot too, at least in the second.  Then the third came around and they started rooting for me more.
So it's always good to feel the crowd love, and to, you know, feel a part of something special that's happening.

Q.  Victoria spoke at length in her interview about how much admiration she has for you and appreciation because you really force her to improve her game, improve her fitness.  Were there things Victoria did today that genuinely pushed you in a way that you hadn't been pushed this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, absolutely.  You can see by the scoreline that she really worked hard and she pushed me; she returned really unbelievable today.  She always returns really well.
But, you know, I feel like she's really improved that aspect of her game.  It's going to make me go home and say, Well, what can I do to improve so I'm not involved in a three‑set battle like this again?
As great as it is to feel good after these wins, it's always easier and better for me to go faster and to win in straight sets.

Q.  How careful will you be with your scheduling?  A lot of people complain that you don't play enough.  You know all that, of course.  Are you very careful about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I am.  I don't want to overdo it, you know.  I'm doing something right after 13 years ‑‑ or actually longer.
So I have two more tournaments this year which I want to do well in, really, really well, and then have a little break.  I think it will be awesome.

Q.  How much of a downer was what happened in Paris and how much of a correlation do you see between that loss there and what you've done since then?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I was miserable after that loss in Paris.  I have never been so miserable after a loss.  I was playing extremely well before that.
To be honest, I felt like I lost a little confidence after that.  I had some tough matches at Wimbledon.
But finally I pulled it together.  I don't know if that helped me, the loss in Paris, or it fueled me or if it didn't.  I like to believe it did, because, you know, I just wanted to do more.  I wanted to do more and more and more.
Sometimes they say it's good to lose.  I still would have preferred to win, but, you know, that was forever ago.

Q.  You won your 45th tournament out of 157; 15th slam out of 49 slams.  But you missed 10 slams since '99.  If you had played those 10 slams, don't you think that you would have won at least 5 of them and you would have 20 slams, 2 more than Chris and Martina and 2 less than Graf?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I think so.  Some situations I couldn't help.  Like in 2010 I was playing really well.  I felt like I could have ‑‑if I didn't win the US Open I definitely could have won Australia because I love winning Australia.  I definitely think that set me back.
But there's nothing I can do about that.  I've let that go.  I don't think about what could have been.  I just think about what I have and what I want to do.

Q.  That's a perfect setup for your future and future slams.  How much do you think you'll want to keep going and possibly break those records that far ahead of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I haven't thought about them until recently.  I never thought I would even come close to breaking those records.
But, you know, if I can play consistently and play some more matches at Wimbledon, then it will be awesome.
We'll see.  If I could win two a year it would be great.  We'll see.

Q.  Can you compare the 30 year old who won the 2012 US Open to that teenager who won here in 1999?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Gosh, we both have so much to look forward to.  I feel like even though I'm 30, I have feel so young and I've never felt as fit and more excited and more hungry.
Even with this win like I'm sitting here so excited still to play the next Grand Slam and see what I can do.  Just to do more, I love that feeling.  I feel like it's overdue.  I'm excited.  I feel that way.

Q.  Do you always have that feeling about tennis or is that zoning in and out or has it always felt this strong?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I mean, I think for sure every athlete zones in and out at some point, and I have had mine for sure.
But right now I'm so excited about it.  I love every moment.  I love playing doubles.  I love stepping out in the court.
It's a lot of mental work for me, so I'm excited to go away today or tonight and just relax and know I don't have a match in the next few days.
But other than that, it's really great.  It's a great job.

Q.  Victoria in her press conference expressed gratitude what you have done for her game, which is somebody who has beaten her 10 out of 11 times.  She said it's not about resentment, it's about you have pushed her to become a much better player.  She also went on to say, quote, unquote, that she considers you, from her point of view, the greatest player ever.  She's the top‑ranked player in the world.  She's saying that about you.  When you look back and think you have established that legacy for yourself, can you talk a little bit about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think that, you know, she right now is probably one of the best players on tour.  That's why she's the only other player to make two Grand Slam finals and to play so consistent and literally could have won today.
We were pushing each other now, and that's awesome.  That's great.  She's improved so much in a few weeks, and that's always important to see in someone at her age so young in their game.
I don't know.  I will think about my legacy when I'm done.  I have so much more I want to create for the history.

Q.  You won three slams in 2003.  How do you compare that year to a year like 2012 where you won two slams and another goal?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  So basically three.  It's kind of the same thing, right?  (Laughter.)
Q.In your autobiography you wrote about you and Venus and your father on a paper route, riding along.

Q.  I don't know how old you were exactly then, five or six...

Q.  Did you think of becoming the greatest player...
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, no, no, not at all.  I just never thought about ‑‑I have always wanted to win.  As a kid, you're always like, I want to be the best; I want to be No. 1; I want to win Grand Slams.
But to actually do something is much harder than saying it and putting in the work and the effort and the sacrifices and absolutely everything.
So yeah, at that age I definitely ‑‑I was thinking about ice cream trucks, not anything else.

Q.  You mentioned Muhammad Ali earlier, and his nickname was The Greatest, and earlier you were toasted as being the greatest.  All week I heard nothing but your competitors saying you're the greatest.  How does that make you feel?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Weird.  I don't consider myself the greatest.  I just consider myself a tennis player who's trying to do the best I can.  And from then I'm just Serena.
I have always considered ‑‑I'm so crazy off the court and simple and easy and fun.  Then I'm a totally different person.  I know you guys don't get to see that other side, but for me it's just‑‑ you know, I'm just Serena.  That's all I am, and I'll never be anything else.

Q.  You have won a lot of these by now.  What's your favorite thing or the best part about winning a Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Taking a break afterwards.  (Laughter.)
Except for after Wimbledon.  I didn't get a break.  Usually it's like every day, I'm like second after 11:00.  Perfect.  Second after 11:00.  Usually I'm like, Okay, what time do I play tomorrow?
There's a lot that goes into it.  Okay, I have to eat tonight.  I have to eat this.  Oh, I didn't eat enough.
Now I'm like, Okay, I can have a week off and I will feel good and relax and, whew, deep breath.

Q.  You love living on the edge.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I really do.  (Laughter.)
You were on the edge.  How much personal excitement do you get out of winning a championship like this and having the world know that you have multiple challenges, other interests, and you're a very broad‑spanned person with multiple talents?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I definitely like living on the edge too much, so I'm going to try to get off the edge.  (Laughter.)
I don't know.  I just definitely enjoyed winning tonight.  I would be lying if I said that I wanted it to be, you know, this long.
But nothing is more exciting than winning such a tight match in a Grand Slam final.  I wonder if I have had one this tight.  I'm not sure.

Q.  Could you have written a better script for CBS if you they said, Write this Serena?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, I think it was really well.

Q.  I just couldn't help sitting up there and watching and just thinking, you know, to prepare for a performance like what happened tonight, leading up to it, how do you prepare to, you know, perform like you did tonight?  What's your strategy when you are getting ready to do a big, you know, a big match like this?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  My strategy is just to relax.  I actually went to dinner yesterday and I started not to, and I usually never leave the hotel for three weeks.
I was like, you know what, Serena?  Try something new.  Get something to eat outside of the hotel.  It made me relax and it worked.  It worked.  So for me every day is changing.  We'll see.  I don't know.
There is no one way I think for anyone, definitely not for me.

Q.  Can you please talk about what has happened with your life or the support of your family has meant to you, the things that you have with all the things you have gone through with your sister and yourself the last couple of years?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  We have had so much support.  My family is really close and we do a lot of things together.  We have a lot of support.
You know, going through what I went through and what Venus went through and what she's currently going through I definitely think made me appreciate everyone more and just appreciate the whole family structure.
But also made me closer to Venus in particular, because she has inspired me on a whole new level.  Whenever my back hurts or whenever my foot hurts, I'm thinking, Seriously, Serena, you don't have what Venus has, so, you know, just get over it.
I think everyone in sport can be inspired by what she's done and how she's come back and winning championships and just doing so well.
So I have been utterly completely inspired by that.  I just have no words for it.  There is no greater champion in my eyes.

Q.  How much credit do you give to the work you have done with Patrick?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think Patrick has been great.  He's been really positive in my life.  I love how calm he is.  I'm a little crazy.  Whenever I look up he always looks so confident.  I love that.
So we have a good strategy going on.  We have a good chemistry.  We have a lot of good things together.  I was doing really, really well before Roland Garros ‑ and I was supposed to win there ‑ and then I didn't do so well.
You know, his system, being in Paris has given me ‑‑I don't live there, for the record.  Can't pay those taxes.  I live in the United States of America.  I am American.  (Laughter.)
It's been fun to kind of get a change of scenery at 30 years old.  It's like doing the same thing day after day, year after year, and then I have a change.  It's kind of cool.
I think it's just made me more excited to play.  It's been really cool.

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