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January 11, 2014

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  How much do you know about Ashleigh Barty?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  She's extremely talented.  She moves well.  She plays well.  She serves well.  She has good returns.
I saw her play a little bit at Brisbane.  I was actually super impressed with her game.  I thought she was a really, really great player.

Q.  What were your thoughts yesterday when you heard you had Ashleigh first up?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I never really look at the draw too much.  But for me I think it will be a great opportunity for us both.  I take every match as it comes and see how it goes.  I try not to put too much pressure on myself.

Q.  When you're facing an opponent young and inexperienced, do you have to put your stamp on the match early on?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't know.  I just try to play the best I can, whether I'm playing someone super young or whether I'm playing someone a little older that has more experience.
For me, I try not to do too much to change my game.  I just try to hang in there and play the best I can.

Q.  Compared to the last couple of years, how do you feel coming into the Open this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, right now I feel pretty good.  Felt pretty good the last at least year.  So I'll see how it goes.

Q.  Opting not to play a tournament after Brisbane, are you happy with your preparation?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think it was great preparation.  Brisbane I think is a great tournament to play to get prepared for Melbourne.  And also I think it's a good time to have a week to train in Melbourne before the tournament actually begins.

Q.  At the rate you've been going the last couple years, you're going to be overtaking or matching the likes of Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert in terms of number of Grand Slam titles won.  How much do you think about that?  How much would that mean to you to be on a par with players like that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It would mean a lot to be on the same level as such great players at Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
I still have a lot of work to do.  I obviously want to be able to reach that level, but I'm not there yet.  Hopefully I'll get there.

Q.  How have you been coping with the cooler weather here this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, no, it's been putting me in a really bad mood.  But then it got really, really hot.  I was very sad that I complained, so I don't complain any more about the weather (smiling).

Q.  What do you do when it's cool out to cope?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I shiver, then I just stay indoors.  I travel with a blanket.  If I go out to eat, I just always take my blanket with me.

Q.  Actually looking forward to the 42 degree days to come?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, no, I'm not.  That's why I said I'm not going to complain any more.  I should have kept my mouth quiet and dealt with the cold weather (smiling).

Q.  Speaking of the heat, anything you do with your fitness training in order to prepare?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I've been training my whole life in the heat.  I think I'm pretty used to it.  I mean, obviously the heat in Melbourne is just completely different than any other heat.
But it's okay.  I just got to be ready to play under any circumstances.

Q.  You had a lot of great matches with Victoria Azarenka last year.  She's won here the last couple years.  Do you think there's a rivalry developing there?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I think Victoria is great.  She obviously plays really great on the hard court.  I think we have a really special thing going on currently right now.

Q.  You've won the Australian Open five times.  You've been probably in the best form of your life the last couple years.  You had a tumultuous time in Melbourne the last couple years.  Can you put that down to anything?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  I just wasn't able to stay on two feet literally.  So I just think that just this year I've been doing a lot of exercises for my ankles and trying to make sure that they're pretty stabilized to get used to this.

Q.¬† Ashleigh is likely to have a bit of a home‑crowd backing.¬† Do you get motivated by people cheering against you perhaps?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, there's such a great crowd here in Melbourne, it will be interesting to see.  Obviously they'll want Ashleigh to win, her to do well.  Under any other circumstances, I'd probably be rooting for her, as well.  I'll just have to be ready for that.

Q.  I saw you watching a match yesterday here.  Is that something you do often.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, a friend of mine was playing.  He said, You should come out.  I had nothing else to do.

Q.  What did you think of the atmosphere?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It was nice.  I got to get out of the room.  I didn't have to sit and kind of stare at the wall.
The atmosphere was nice.  It was obviously super quiet, not as intense.  There wasn't that many people around.  It was kind of cool just to be able to sit and be a spectator for once instead of on the court.  That was really relaxing for me.

Q.  You were saying the other day you spent quite a lot of time practicing with your father recently.  What are the different things that your father and Patrick bring to your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, my dad is just, I don't know, he's been there for me since day one.  He's always been my coach.  He's always so positive on the court.  Patrick is, too.  But my dad definitely gives me more direction than, you know, Patrick.  Patrick kind of has me figuring things out on my own.  I think both ways work really well.
But ultimately they both say the same thing, which is the reason I'm able to work with Patrick, is because he's not going against anything that my father has told me to do.

Q.  For the record, what do you make of John McEnroe's comments about doubles in Grand Slam tournaments?  You've been active on the women's tour.  Are you disappointed in the level of men's participation in doubles?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I have no idea what John McEnroe said, so I can't comment on that.

Q.  Obviously, you've had an amazing two years.  You have a little bit of a different coaching situation now compared to six or seven years ago.  Can you point to anything different, whether it's in your training, your fitness, the coaching?  Is that the difference?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's definitely a little bit of everything.  Also I think age makes a difference, as well.  Obviously I'm a little bit older.
I think everything kind of put in the mixing bowl kind of factors in.
Thank you.

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