I think this has to be Serena's longest interview ever.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Q. What's the difference between the Serena Williams who sort of came out of the blue, won the Australian Open in 2007 and the Serena Williams who's played a lot more consistently in the last little while?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's just it. I've been way more consistent. I was playing a lot more, having more consistent results, and just putting in the effort.
Q. What does that mean, putting in the effort?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, just putting in the effort both on the court and off the court. Paying the price, basically. Doubles helped, too. Playing a lot of doubles is always fun.
Q. Was this match as easy as the scores indicate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was so windy out there, so it's kind of hard to say. Yeah, it was ‑‑ you know, I think she played well and did some things that really worked, and it was just me trying to find my rhythm.
Q. Can you describe the way you were when you won your first Grand Slam here in '99? How long ago does that feel compared to where you are now, mentally, physically?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it feels like a long time ago. Doesn't really ‑‑ actually doesn't feel like that long ago, but when I look ‑‑ it's almost been 10 years. That's kind of weird.
But it's good, you know. I just am excited to obviously still be here, and 10 years later still putting up a major fight. Well, nine years later.
Q. What's different about the way you approach the points, the way you approach your game now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: When I was that young, you know, when you're that young you really have nothing to lose. Every person you go against is probably, especially back then I wasn't ranked that high, they were expected to win.
At the same time, I still had the confidence. I really felt like I was going to win that year. You know, I think that confidence has been able to stay with me throughout my career.
Q. What about 2002?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That seems even longer. I really don't eve remember that one. I don't remember anything about that.
Q. Do you feel expected to win tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't feel expected to win. I feel expected to show up and, you know, do the best that I can do, and I feel like I have nothing to lose. I'm going against, you know, someone that's ranked higher than me.
She has a lot of pressure to win her first Grand Slam, and I'm just enjoying every moment, so yeah.
Q. Did you ever doubt that you would get back to this point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. You know, I've always felt like my game is suited to withstand a long time and play for years and years. I feel like ‑‑ I've been saying I feel like I just started again, like I just feel so excited to be out there for every match.
Q. It was awfully windy out there today, but how cleanly do you feel you're hitting the ball right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't really tell today. It was just so windy out there. It was really windy out there.
Q. Did you get your rhythm in today's match, or...
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess I got more of a rhythm as the match ‑‑ obviously I got more of a rhythm, so I was excited to get that.
Q. Can you talk about that point where you struck Safina with that drive?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, my God, yeah. It was crazy, you know. I didn't even see the ball. I was just ‑‑ pretty much just running and hitting my shot. I'm so used to playing shots in doubles, and it was like, you know, you just make any shot that you can make. I was, you know, nearly mortified that I hit her. Yeah.
Q. Are you concerned about weather conditions for the match tomorrow, if it's going to be tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know if we'll play tomorrow, but I'm ready to play tomorrow. Hopefully we can. If not, I'll be ready for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, doesn't matter.
Q. Would you say a quarterfinal match was a lot harder than the semifinals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously. Absolutely. I feel that Venus is my toughest opponent ever. You know, nothing against Dinara. I think she's been playing really incredible. I think she played even well today.
But I just ‑‑ I just think Venus is just an amazing player. Maybe I have a little too much respect for her.
Q. You mentioned this after you played her, that if you're going to eliminate her from the tournament, you really want to go on and win it to make it worthwhile. Is that pretty much the case?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like Venus was playing the best in this tournament. I felt like she had a chance to win, and maybe she even would have won.
Obviously I would like to do what I think she would have done. But at the same time, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself.
I just want to go out there and do the best that I can do. You know, getting to the final of a Grand Slam is awesome in any way. I just ‑‑ obviously I want to go another one.
Q. If you become No. 1, it will have been five years since you were No. 1. No other woman has come back and done that after such a long time. What kind of statement do you think that makes about your career?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I'm here to stay. Like I said, I've really been enjoying my time on the court and playing a lot. You know, I think ‑‑ No. 1 is not my goal right now.
I know I'll get that eventually if I continue to play the tournaments. I just want to be able to win the Grand Slams, and, you know, play and stay healthy. And I think the ranking will definitely come.
Q. Did you warm up with Venus this morning, and did she give you any advice for this match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She gave me a lot of advice for this match. I didn't warm up with her, but she gave me a lot of advice in what to do and how to play.
Q. Talk a little bit more specifically about what you mean by just putting in the effort. I mean, are you talking about practicing more or working out more?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yea, I mean, just I think more than anything playing more tournaments. I've been working hard for years, you know. It's like ‑‑ I think my results are finally showing.
You know, if I don't practice, then it's like my mind goes nuts. It's like I should have been on the court today.
I'm just paying the price, so to say, whatever that means. It is what it is, you know.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the advice that Venus gave you? It was about Dinara?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was about Dinara. Venus is a really smart player. She's an extremely smart player. She knows how to read people very well, so...
Q. Any particular reads on Dinara that she gave?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she gave me some advice on what to do and how to play and what to expect.
Q. The last time you and Jelena played in Miami, her tenacity really kept her in that match. Is that her biggest weapon, just being able to hang in there in rallies and hang in there and hang in there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, absolutely. I don't know too many people on the tour that can hang in there as much as she can, and it's definitely ‑‑ she's playing well, and she's just going for glory here, so, yeah.
Q. Can you describe your will on the court in big matches, big points, big tournaments like this one?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My what?
Q. Your will.
SERENA WILLIAMS: My will?
Yeah, I have amazing will. I don't want to ‑‑ I love to win, and more than anything, I just ‑‑ I love to win, so I think that wills me to do the best I can.
Q. Mary Carrillo was on the air talking about how the people closest to you in your life, your family, have really encouraged you to take advantage of this prime of your career and really go for it now as opposed to maybe doing other things in life. Can you talk about that a little bit? Is there someone close to you or in your family who's really kind of encouraged you right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. You know, she knows my family really well. Yeah. (laughter.)
So I guess maybe she had a conversation with them. My family has always supported me since Day One.
Q. What was that like to be part of that HBO documentary with that experience with all those amazing people from all walks of life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was an honor, and I think that sums it up. I felt honored that they wanted me to speak on it and to be a part of it.
I was so excited to do it. And then to see people like Colin Powell and everyone else that was on the program, as well, really was ‑‑ made me feel so proud to be black and African‑American and be a part of that program.
Q. Do you want to catch Steffi Graf? Do you think that's at all possible? I know you're a little bit far behind as far as 22 Grand Slams.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, only way I can catch her is for singles and doubles, because, you know, my goal has never been to have the most. My goal has always been to have the best time and do the best I can do.
Yeah, that's a pretty unbelievable goal. She was one of my favorite players growing up.
Q. You said the other day you really wanted to play Safina. Is that because she was kind of the hottest player this summer and you wanted to match up against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's been playing so well this summer. She beat me in Berlin, and I really just was not very happy about that.
So I felt that I could play better. It was kind of hard to do today with the conditions, but I just definitely, you know, wanted to just go up against, you know, I think the best player this summer.
Q. Following up on the documentary, have you seen it? And if you have, was there one person's story that you were struck by that you just maybe didn't know about?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was struck by ‑‑ that's why I mentioned Colin Powell. I was really struck by his story and everything he was saying. I saw pretty much everyone on the documentary, but I didn't see me. It's like everyone came up but me. I was waiting and waiting. I must have missed it.
Q. I guess you know your story, so...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Thank you.