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September 6, 2013

Serena Williams


6‑0, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  What do you think makes the difference today?  Either you play too good or Li Na didn't play at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I think I started out really well and I was really focused.  I think Li Na may have been a little off, but I think it was because I started out so well and then she may have not played her best.
But I think she played well.  It was, I thought especially towards the end, a very quality match.

Q.¬† When you were getting deep into the ‑‑when you were in seventh match point, that eighth game in the second set, seemed like maybe that's the only time we have seen you at this tournament with maybe a chink in your very gear.¬† But then you seemed to rally back in the next one.¬† Is that about as far as you felt yourself pushed in this tournament at that point in the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, I think it was definitely all me.  I got tight, which happens sometimes.  I just needed to relax, and then when I did relax she played some good points.
But it was a good experience going into the next round that I'll be ready for ‑‑ if I even get a match point, I'll be ready to stay calm and just to stay focused and relaxed.

Q.  What have you shown yourself about your game and getting to the final without losing more than four games against anybody and losing only four games one time in a set?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I don't know.  I just felt like I have been really focused.  My practices have been much better than my matches, and I have really been trying to be focused on the practice court.
Like I said, I set some goals for myself in the match and am really trying to reach those goals every time.

Q.  What is the toughest part of playing Azarenka, and how has she managed to win two of the last three matches, both on hard courts, with you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Um, you know, both matches she played really well.  I let myself down at opportunities and I didn't take them.  If I'm able to get another opportunity I have to take them, because she is always pumped and she does really well.

Q.  She said today that you make her play her best, and she said, I think I make her play her best, your best.  Do you agree with that assessment?  I mean, do you play your best tennis when you're facing her?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Um, I definitely feel like when she plays me she plays her best, by far.  I have seen her play other players, and when I play her I'm playing a totally different player.  Obviously she brings her best game, yeah.

Q.  How different is the sort of level of intensity between US Open final and the stages you have faced her already this year, in Cincinnati and Doha?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Different energy, different opportunities.  This is for a Grand Slam.  I mean, she's trying to win yet another one; I'm trying to win one myself.
It's just different timing.

Q.  How conscious are you that the mark of 18 major titles and that Sunday you might just be one away from that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I thought about that, but I can't think about that.  It's still so close but it's still so far.  I have to win against a great player and I have to play great tennis.
With that being said, I have to do it all over again.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Only thing that's guaranteed is I can go out there and just try to do my best, and whatever happens, just learn from whatever experience I get from it.

Q.  What about the potential $1 million bonus?  How conscious are you of that being at stake Sunday?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Well, last time I had this opportunity I ‑‑ it blew up.¬† It didn't work out.¬† I'm trying not to think about it so much.¬† Money has never been my motivation with tennis.¬† I have always just played to win Grand Slams.

Q.  What does it take generally to beat you in a Grand Slam final?  Like what does a player have to do in order to get the better of you?  Because you are very good at these stages.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I don't know.  I usually, you know, stay positive.  I usually beat myself when I lose, or for me, there's always something I can do better.

Q.  Do you feel like the two matches she's won this year you have largely beat yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† No, I thought she definitely played really well in those matches.¬† I mean, she's a great player ‑ and she's young.¬† She has so much abilities and she has a lot of drive.
So, yeah, I just have to try to just hang in there.

Q.  The other day you said that Chris Evert, Martina, and Steffi were the ultimate icons in tennis for you.  Did watching them influence your game at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I watched Steffi and Martina a little bit.  I didn't get to see so much of Chris.  I know she was a great player.  I definitely must add Venus on that list at the top of the list, because she definitely helped me play great faster and a better game faster.
So, yeah.

Q.  But in terms of seeing their games, there weren't things that you took from watching those previous icons?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't think so.  I loved watching Martina Navratilova growing up.  I don't play anything like her.  I don't do anything like her.
Chris I didn't watch so much.  Steffi, I do nothing like her, as well.  Yeah.

Q.  How much of your preparation for the final is looking at Azarenka's game and how you want to try to attack her or hurt her as opposed to focusing on what you want to do about yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I know her game as well as she knows mine.  She knows what I do great, what I do bad, and what I can do better.
I know the same thing.  At this point, it's just all about just playing some tennis now.

Q.  I know you said a lot of times before that Azarenka is one of the players you're friendlier with on tour.  Do you have to actively put that aside next few days and think of her as someone you're not friendly with?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  That's the great part it about it.  We completely get along, and once the match is on we are completely opponents.  That's what it's about.  When the match is over, we completely get along.
We leave everything on the court, play as hard as we can, almost as if we've never met each other in our lives.

Q.  What's the most exciting aspect for you being in the final again with a chance to win a fifth Open title?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's great.  Just to be able to defend a title for once would be really awesome.  You know, I have done so well here the past few times I have played, just getting to the semis or getting to the finals.
You know, it's been really, really exciting, so I'm really happy that I have been able to just consistently do well here.

Q.  And how do you guard against the nervousness of being in the final and knowing that if you don't win it it's going to be a tremendous letdown for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Yeah, I can't think like that.¬† I have to think more or less ‑‑ like just have to be excited about ‑ not focused on anything, just focused on the game.
What happens happens.  Sport, you just have to take the wins and the losses and treat those two imposters the same (laughter).

Q.  Does tennis need a great Grand Slam every so often, a great competitive one?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't know.  If I'm in the final, I don't know.  I just think we had a great final last year, so maybe we can go another decade without having an excellent final.

Q.  Vika also said that she really relishes pressure.  She feels pressure brings out the best in her game.  You have obviously had great meetings with her.  Do you feel the more you push her it raises her level?  And also, what does that do for your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Um, I don't know.  Sometimes I like pressure, to be honest.  Sometimes I don't.  I'm not going to sit here and make up things and try and sound fabulous.  Pressure sometimes is tough.  You know, pressure of writing a paper.  I actually do perform well under pressure, but in that circumstance when I have a paper due...
You know, I think I have done pretty well with pressure.

Q.  This was a long day for you out on the court.  I noticed even towards the very end of the match you and Venus were still able to kind of able to share a laugh or a smile.  I'm wondering, at this point, have you been focused throughout the whole tournament on tennis, or are you allowing yourself some space for pleasure outside of the tournament while you're here in NewYork?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I'm here for the tournament.  I'm here for the tennis.
I have two weeks, two‑and‑a‑half weeks to focus on tennis.¬† That's what I'm going to do.¬† That's what I have been doing.

Q.  About the doubles today, I notice obviously a team you have had a lot of tough matches against at the Olympics.  What do you think made the difference in that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I think I was a little mentally tired.  I didn't play well.  Venus usually feeds off my energy.  She didn't do as well as she usually does.
It was obviously‑‑ you know, we didn't play great.¬† They took advantage of our playing miserable.¬† (laughter).

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