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May 25, 2014

Serena Williams


6‑2, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in English, please.

Q.  Can you tell us how do you feel playing on a Sunday, Sunday start during a Slam?  Is it a good thing, you think, for a tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think it's a good thing for the tournament, for sure.  They get an extra day, they're able to have more fans come out.  It's different for the players.  Usually you're ready to start on Monday.  But, you know, now if you come to Roland Garros you might play on Sunday, so you've got to get ready for it.

Q.  Can you tell us what you thought of the match?  The beginning you were fighting hard.  It was close a little bit first three, four games.  Then you steamed the whole match.
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Yeah, the beginning was ‑‑I think the match, a lot of the matches went to 30‑All or so.¬† So I think the games were actually pretty close.
It was interesting.  I was a little nervous, like I always am in my first round.  It's kind of always hard for me to shake those nerves and go from there.

Q.¬† Can you talk about your friendship with Alize?¬† I know you two have spent a fair amount of time together, and she's not even on the main, high‑level tour yet.¬† So how close are you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  She's been doing a lot better.  She's been playing a lot.  She's been just getting so much better, and she just made up her mind that she wanted to compete and be one of the best.
I'm really proud of her.  She's just rising in the rankings really, really well.
Yeah, we train, you know, in the same facilities.  It's hard, though, because everyone is on tour, and so, you know, we see each other.  It's fun.
We just kind of all get along.  We just go to dinner every now and then.  So it's interesting.  It's fun.

Q.  You said you were nervous today, which might surprise some considering how long you have been a performer, but others not.  Just talk about your nerves over the years.  What event were you the most nervous?  Was it the Olympics?  Was it your coming out tournament?  How your nerves have evolved over the years.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think in general for me I'm always, always have a little bit of nerves and just I try to harness them and put it in the right place.
As for the most nervous is very difficult to say.  I was extremely nervous last year here in the final.  The whole match I could barely get there.  I was really, really, really nervous.  Then also the US Open I was nervous.  But then in my career early on, you play big matches, you get nervous.
So I think it's nice to have a little bit of that, because it means that you still have a passion for it.  You still have this inside feeling that you want to do really well or else the nerves wouldn't be there.

Q.  Can you remember just your body shaking at one particular match or your hands shaking?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Not my body per se, but definitely I have had a few hands shaking every now and then.
But not so often.  You just kind of try to get through those moments.

Q.  How would you compare your form this year on the clay compared to last year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I was in really top form last year on the clay, or at least I thought I was.
This year I'm just going day by day.¬† I'm not ‑‑I do have to say this year I don't feel as much pressure on myself as I did last year.¬† And that's it.¬† I just am doing the best I can.

Q.  Can you talk for a second just about what it's like to see Venus still out there competing.  And secondly, also just talk for a moment about how your relationship with her has evolved, without going through your whole life story.
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† For me, it's not shocking or like super ‑‑I don't know, "exciting" isn't the right word.¬† But super like weird to see her perform, because we live together and we train next to each other.
So of course I expected to see her out here and I expected her to even do better and I expected her to win and to play the best that she can on that day, as she doesn't know sometimes how she feels.
I feel good.  I think for other people they might have a different feeling, but seeing that we live in the same environment, I definitely feel like I'm proud of her, but at the same time, I want her to keep going and do better and do more and do more.
And then, you know, our relationship, we have just grown older, we are still really close.  It's evolved, where it's evolved I think in a good way.

Q.¬† Venus played Bencic, who is about roughly half her age. ¬†And there is now twice as many 30‑years‑old playing in this tournament than teenagers.¬† What would you say the factors are that careers are extending so long and that it takes longer to be good?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† I ‑‑I don't know.¬† I feel like people just don't want to stop now.¬† I think honestly, I feel like when I was growing up I felt like, okay, I'm going to have to retire long before 30, because it was just what everyone did.¬† It wasn't ‑‑it was just perceived as a tennis player career was over at 30, or before 30.
And I think that's just what I thought.  And when I got close to be 30, I felt like I didn't want to stop.  I just wanted to keep going.  I think maybe just people are just more or less feeling that way.
Also, technology has changed.  Training has changed.  People's bodies are better.  People are more healthier for a longer amount of time.  So maybe that has something to do with it, as well.
Careers are able to last longer through just modern thinking and modern stuff.

Q.  As an extension to that, like when you had a long career, about 16 years, and how do you feel women's tennis has evolved over that period, and has the style of play also changed?  Like, what would you attribute the changes to?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† I think the style of play ‑‑I don't know.¬† I have played so many people in different generations and different decades (laughter). But I feel like the style is similar, like, we have power hitters, the '90s and 2000 power hitters.¬† And we had players that weren't so much power, but they were able to get the ball back and you have fast runners.
I still feel it's like similar to that.  I think obviously the level has gotten a lot more depth, but still, it's put a lot of similarities.

Q.  Is there any players like, say, Martina Hingis, like, who could move the ball around?  Is there some kind of player like that who you would like to face?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, there are several girls on the tour who do that really well.  Lots.

Q.  You mentioned technology.  You really have a perspective over the years both about training and those things, but there is also this technology of these flying cameras all over the courts.

Q.  Australia they are a little bit more down with you, but here there is just that airplane thing.  Do they ever distract you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It did today.  I was about to serve, and I saw this airplane.  I thought, is there an airplane flying?  Then I realized it was a camera.
But it's fine.  You know, listen, I'm keeping up with the times.  32, I'm trying to stay young.  So that's my secret (smiling).

Q.  Do you think they are good for the sport, for spectators or are they just a sort of unnecessary distraction?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Listen, it's all about ‑‑the more camera views, the more people you can reach on TV, the more people who get involved in the sport.¬† It's just looking at it in the bigger picture.

Q.  Venus played in Auckland in January, and at the time she had such a good time she said she was going to speak to you about it and try and convince you to maybe play in New Zealand at some stage before you retire.  At this stage of your career, is that something you would consider playing in like a smaller tournament like that ahead of the Australian Open?  Are you thinking about it?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, absolutely.  I was just thinking about it recently, because I already have to think about my schedule for next year.
So I have to pick out what tournaments I want to play.  Obviously I love going to Brisbane, but I have never played in New Zealand.  My whole thing now is just to try to go to as many new places I have never been.  So we will see.

Q.  You know Venus probably better than any of us.  She's, you know, pursuing her business degree.  She has her two design businesses and everything.  Yet she really fought her way back to the top of the game.  What is it that you think that drives her to like try to achieve all these things?  You know, most people are like playing is enough.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, you know, I think in general we both like to play, but we both know that tennis isn't all that we want to do.  We just try to do as much as we can.
But I don't know.  She's the smarter sister, so that's why she's doing so well (smiling).

Q.  The whole mess with Donald Sterling of the Clippers has opened a lot of conversation about race issues in America.  In particular, 50 senators the other day just came out with calling for a change in the name of the Redskins.  You are a minority owner in the NFL and dare I say long ago had a little bit of a social connection with that team.  What would your thoughts be about changing the Redskins' name?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, it's interesting.  I don't really know much about that.  So I can't comment on something I'm not fully educated on.
The little bit I know is that, is it ‑‑ I'm asking you‑‑ is it from an Indian tribe and there were, it was ‑‑ was it a popular name amongst the Indians; is that correct?

Q.  It's seen as a slur, like the N word.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, so again, I can't really commentate on that obviously, because I don't know much about it.  I have heard that once and it did cross my mind, like, wow, really?  I think, yeah, the people standing up for that can be really positive.

Q.  I was just wondering if you were able to attend any of the wedding festivities for your friend Kim these past few days?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I went to a few of the festivities.

Q.  Which one?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I went to the dinner in Versailles and stuff, dinner and stuff.

Q.  Was it fun?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Always fun with Kim.

Q.  On the clay, how does play here affect your clothes and your shoes?  They come off more dirty here than at other courts?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I always throw away my ankle bracelets after the French Open, and I don't really wear my socks again.  Yeah, that's about it, though.  Just that.  And the shoes are clay court shoes, so you can kind of keep those.  But, yeah.

Q.  Since the topic of weddings was brought up.  You sent out a very supportive note to Caroline Wozniacki a few days ago saying that you stood with her.  How would you compare a devastating loss in sports like you have experienced with a devastating breakup?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Oh, I would rather lose any day than break up.  It's always hard.
But, you know, definitely easier to take a loss, you know, because that's ‑‑you always have next week.¬† But at the end of the day when you really are young, you always have next year and you have the rest of your life.¬† Once you know that, everything goes together.

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