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March 27, 2014

Serena Williams


S. WILLIAMS/M. Sharapova
6‑4, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  When you're playing at your best, do you feel like you ever had or still do have a rival in this sport when you're playing at your best?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think there is always rivals.  I have always felt when I'm playing at my best, then it's hard for people to beat me.  But I have to get there, and it's hard to always be at your best, obviously.
I think that is what's special, and that's why there is a lot of rivals now.

Q.  Do you feel like one of your main strengths is your ability, when you're kind of like not playing well, to just turn it on like that (snapping fingers)?  Is that one of your strengths?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yes, absolutely.  I feel when I'm not playing well or feeling lower energy, I know I can do better.  I think knowing that I can play better is always a plus, especially in a match, I feel sometimes, Okay, well, you can take it up a level.  It's just about getting there.

Q.  You're down 1‑4, what are you thinking?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I thought, Okay, I'm only down a break.  It was really just one break.  The scoreline looked bigger than what it was.  I felt if I could just break back, then I would be back in the match.

Q.  She plays pretty methodically.  You seemed to be deliberating your pace between points too today, back to the net sometimes.  Was that a conscious decision, or...
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Back to the net?

Q.  With your back to the net, sort of gathering yourself.  What was going on there?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I just made some errors, and when that happened, I was just trying to regroup and get my mind back together and just try to get back focused and just try to get things going again.

Q.  And did that help?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think it helps me in particular sometimes, just helps me to be able to relax.  Sometimes I do get a little uptight, and it helps me with that.

Q.  It's called a rivalry, Serena and Maria, because it's always, when you guys play, there is a lot of fan interest.  But as Maria pointed out at the beginning of the week, she says it's not really a rivalry, "Because I haven't beaten her in 14 times."  Now it's 15 or whatever.  Can you talk about the relationship between you guys?  Why is it, even though you have completely dominated on the scores, why is it still an interesting matchup, do you think?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I think Maria and I both play well.  I think we have a lot of similar things.  We give 100%, I think.  Doesn't matter who we play.
We are both, I think, really intense on the court, and I think fans like to see people that really try really hard no matter what.  And so when those two people play each other, it's, you know, one person that tries super hard playing another person that tries really hard.
I think it's exciting.  I would definitely want to watch.

Q.  Do you consider, when you've beaten someone 14 times in a row and 14 out of 16, 15 now, do you still consider that a rivalry?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think every time you step on the court, you know, if you're playing someone, it's a rivalry, I guess.  I don't know.  I don't think about it.  I'm just here to play tennis and, you know, play my matches.

Q.  Do you think there was anything she did particularly well at the beginning when she was leading or maybe something different?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, you know, I think she started out strong.  I made some errors.  I had a lot of chances to be up first game and then had some chances to hold serve and chances to break again.
So I definitely let myself down in the first three games, and then she started playing better.

Q.  I wanted to ask you, in the last years we had like the same players in the top 10, but from last year, since May until now, the rise of Simona Halep, she rise from 67 until now she's 5th in the world.  If you can tell me, please, your opinion about her game and what chances do you give her to rise even more or maybe win in the future a Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, Simona, I think she's a really good player.  I think she's super intense, and I think she's really, really focused.
I think she has a lot of dedication and a lot of fight.  Just listening to her talk about the game and about tennis, she really enjoys to play.  She loves to win.
Most of all, she likes to work hard to get the good results.  I think that makes for a Grand Slam winner, for sure.

Q.  What's the challenge like returning when you have someone like Maria, so deliberate or sometimes really long gaps between the first and second serve?  What's the challenge being a good returner against that kind of pace?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It's not easy, but at the same time it's not difficult.  I just, for me, just gotta keep my mind focused and don't necessarily think about anything else.
It's a part of the game, you know.  Some players play like that.  I played with another player earlier this week who took a long time between first and second, but it's in regulation so you've just got to be ready for everything.

Q.  I want to ask about the record.  I think you break Agassi's record here with the most titles if you win the next one.  Do you think about being the all‑time winner at this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  I think last year I was able to tie, so that's okay.  I'm just going, going, going.  We'll see.

Q.  Do you feel like having won, you know, 14 in a row, going into this, puts more pressure on you?  Do you feel that she can have nothing to lose at this stage of her career when she's someone who has won so much?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, she's won a tremendous amount.  I think myself, as well, you just don't have anything to lose when I go out there.
Just, for me, I think so, too.  So, yeah.

Q.  You think you have nothing to lose against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, I don't.  I don't feel like I have anything to lose.  If I lose, that's it.  It's not the end of the world for me.  Life goes on.

Q.  Do you feel like when you're not playing at your best that the one thing you always have in your bag is your serve and that could get you going?  Is that what kind of happened today?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, for sure.  I hadn't been serving great too much this tournament, and then I started serving a lot better today.  I was hitting 120.
I was like, Whoa.  Is that me?  She actually was getting them back, too.
I usually don't hit in the 120s like that.  I was a little surprised.  I wasn't trying to hit it that hard.
I was definitely feeling pretty good about my serve today, which made me feel good.

Q.  3‑4 game, break point against you, went for a huge second serve, and I don't think you lost a point on serve in the rest of the set.  Can you feel the serve click in on one serve or is it just getting loose?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  You know, it's just getting loose and going for what I do and just playing my game.
That definitely I think was a big point, and it worked out.  Sometimes it does.  Sometimes I have hit that serve and it didn't work out.  I'm glad it worked out today.

Q.  Have you gotten any comments from the Dolphins on the dress or the Dolphins fans or players?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Lots of Dolphins fans, yeah.  We're liking it.  We're still in it, so the fin is up.

Q.  You had some pretty harsh words for yourself earlier in the week about how you were playing.  How do you feel now?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I didn't think I would be sitting here the way I was playing in the beginning of the week, so I'm excited to still be in the tournament.
But, yeah, if you just keep fighting to live for another day, you can always improve.
I definitely feel better than what I did in my first couple of matches, but I also feel there is a big gap for me to play even better and to be more consistent and, you know, to get to the level that I was playing at a little bit last year.

Q.  Your thoughts on Li or Cibulkova?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Either one will be a really tough match.  I look forward to playing either one.  I would love to play Li Na.  I haven't played her in a while.
She brings some good game.  She comes to the net, and I'm enjoying that right now.
And Cibulkova, as well.  Last time I played her in Brisbane she played really well.  Even though she lost, she played a great match.  You know, I love people that can play well, and I look forward to whoever is in the final.  I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  You've always done so well here in Miami.  What's the key to you feeling so comfortable here?  What is it that makes you feel so good?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I have so many friends here, and it's the worst when you lose in front of your friends and they kind of give you like a sympathy hug.
I just don't want the sympathy.  I kind of have only one choice, and that's to win.

Q.  Do you drive from Palm Beach Gardens every day, or do you have a place here?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I stay here, but my dad goes back and forth every day and stuff.  It's so close, so everyone drives up to come see.

Q.  Some of the men players have said when they have been No. 1 and they have really dominated the game that when they go out and play a match that they feel like that No. 1 ranking wins them a couple of free points here and there.  When you're in these sort of situations, do you have that in mind?  Do you feel that could be the case?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think in women's tennis it's different.  The ladies really fight hard for everything, at least when they play me.
I feel like everyone plays the best that they can and they just go for broke.  I think ultimately that's what makes me better is the fact that I always have to be better, because everyone is coming at me so hard.

Q.  Do you wish you had a rival like Evert/Navratilova, Agassi/Sampras?  Do you wish you had someone like that to really test you on a regular basis?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think I do.  I mean, everyone I play always plays me hard, so I feel like every match I play I literally have to be on my best, so for me I take a rival as every match, and I think that's one of the best ways to take it.

Q.  Would you reveal who you think is the biggest threat to your supremacy?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Those are big words, "supremacy" (smiling).
No.  I always said, you know, that I feel like, again, anyone that I play, you have to be ready to play.  You have to be ready to play no matter if you're playing the person that's ranked 200 or whether you're playing the person that's ranked No. 2.
You have to show up, and if you don't show up, then your biggest threat will be yourself.

Q.  Was Justine Henin your toughest foe?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Venus.  Please.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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