Serena's 1R Interview
Serena Williams - Day 2
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Q. A while ago your mother talked about you and Venus going to Africa to promote the game. What has come of this Africa promotion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we're getting really close now. We're both extremely, our whole family is extremely excited to have the opportunity to go to Africa. It's a continent I've never been to. I understand our popularity there is great. It will be good to have tennis reach Africa, as well.
We're finalising things. We're looking to go either this fall or, if not, next fall.
Q. Any country in particular?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, of course, South Africa. We hope to go to Ghana and maybe the Ivory Coast. There's just so many countries to reach. There's a lot. There's definitely more than one, though.
Q. But you and Venus do understand that you are role model for kids far away in Africa.
SERENA WILLIAMS: We understand. That's why we want to go and give the kids an opportunity to be able to play tennis and have a different life.
Q. Could you explain your feelings or connections about Africa, about going there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I would definitely obviously feel ‑‑ I hear people of my race, they say once they went to Africa, it was an awakening experience for them. They felt just almost ‑‑ I guess "humbled" isn't a good word, but they just felt at home and they felt an inner connection. I've been really, really desperate to go there and have an opportunity to feel that, and also an opportunity to see my history because you don't know yourself until you know your history.
Q. Do you have any connections back to family history, to Africa, that you know of?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Unfortunately, we don't. It's pretty sad.
Q. This is your first match since France. Was there any odd feelings walking out on court, were all the bad feelings from Paris forgotten?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I must say I was a bit nervous today, I don't know why. I don't want to lose in the first round, maybe a little of that was lingering on. But, you know, once the first few games were over, I kind of got into the groove a bit better. I was feeling a little better. But when I first got out there, I was a bit nervous.
Q. Did you think about the first round more after what happened with Lleyton yesterday?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's obvious, of course, I definitely did. I didn't want to take her for granted at all. I'm sure he didn't take his opponent for granted, but I didn't want to come close either. I wanted to make sure that I was on my toes. I didn't want to make history by having two No. 1 defending champions go out.
Q. Did you find yourself listening to the crowd as you walked out on Centre Court? Were you thinking at all about how the crowd was reacting to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I wasn't really listening. I definitely heard a large roar and clap, and that was nice. But I wasn't really listening for it.
Q. Have you gotten any sense that the way you so gracefully handled the situation in Paris,, that you've actually won more fans than you did winning those four consecutive Slams? Carlos was talking about how the feedback he's gotten has been of that ilk.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would imagine so. Myself, my sister, we've always handled ourself with not only aplomb, but a great deal of confidence. We've always been ‑ I just lost the word ‑ gracious. I don't have anything negative to say about any other person. I'll always be that way.
Q. I was wondering, just in your day‑to‑day, out and about, strangers come up to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely, people come up to me all the time. When I was at home, I was a little upset for a few days when I was at home, hitting the practice court, you know, immediately off the plane, you know, swinging in my sleep.
I was at the gas station, I always get recognised. But at the same time everyone seemed to have seen the match, and they seem to really support me, especially at home in Palm Beach. I have the biggest fan base there, it seems (laughter).
Q. I know you said maybe you felt a little embarrassed that you had cried. But it seemed like in showing those tears ‑‑?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My eyes were watering (laughter). Correction.
Q. It seemed like it humanised you for a lot of people. Is that sort of the feedback that you're getting, people liked that they saw you let down your guard?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I think they saw that. And, as well, they realised that, you know, even though I win a lot and I do a lot of things, it's like I'm human. I'm just a young lady trying to make my way in life, and you can't expect everything to be perfect at all times.
Q. From the perspective of a couple of weeks, how do you look back on that reception in the semi-final in Paris and see it? What were they reacting to? What was going on there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I really don't know. I don't really think about it.
Q. What has been your exercise and diet regime ahead of Wimbledon this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been really serious. I've been doing a lot of stretching and working out on the court, off the court. I'm doing a lot of gym exercises. I haven't had any ‑‑ too much sugar intake at all, so been good.
Q. How much more muscular and in shape are the girls on tour than they were even when you first came on tour?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, definitely everyone is getting more muscles now. Everybody is looking stronger, acting stronger and playing stronger, for sure. I think the whole level of the game has definitely lifted from when I first began.
Q. What do you think of that change, the muscularity of the players on the tour?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do I think of it? I think that they're trying to compete with other people, the physique. When I work out, I don't do like 50‑pound push‑ups, bench press. I only do Thera‑Bands, and my body is naturally like this. But I think they're trying to try to compete and get in shape and tone themselves, which is nice.
Q. Women's tennis has just launched a worldwide campaign to boost the game. Do you know if this worldwide campaign includes Africa?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, there's not too many tournaments in Africa. Actually, I don't know of any tournaments in Africa. But if there were, I think the campaign would.
Q. Are you going to push for something like that, to include Africa?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, it would be nice to play there. I know there was one tournament I believe in Egypt, incairo, at one point. But that one left, as well.
Q. Venus said she's kind of sorry to see the curtsy go from tradition here. What is your opinion on that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely disappointed. When I was younger, I used to always look forward to getting on Centre Court and having an opportunity to curtsy. So I was shocked to see that Wimbledon changed their tradition and made people stop.
Q. Did you used to practise?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, when I first got an opportunity to play, I obviously wanted to make sure I was going to do it right.
Q. There's been some talk about the volume of Sharapova grunting on court. Do you think there should be any rule on that? What is your thought about how distracting that can be and if it should be regulated?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's only distracting if you make it distracting, and if you listen to it, it will be distracting. I was playing on Centre Court last year and I heard her. But, you know, I found it funny, if anything. It doesn't bother me and I hope she doesn't let it bother her.
Q. You won every point when you came to the net. That gave you fits in Paris.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was really excited about that. I've been working really hard on my volley and approach shot. That was definitely one thing I would like to improve. So I was really happy to see that I was able to do well when I came to the net today.
Q. Your dropshots have improved, better than the French Open.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was a little better today, as well.
Q. Venus talked about feeling pretty good yesterday. Do you think she's a completely different player here than she was in Paris in terms of her fitness?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, most definitely. She's definitely the player here to beat. I saw her yesterday, she's moving forward, moving her feet. She looks really good. And she's definitely a force to be reckoned with here. It's hard to beat her at Wimbledon.
Q. A your second round is against someone you know very well, Els Callens. What about the match of last year here at Wimbledon? Do you still think about it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, most definitely. When I won that match, I felt I was going to have an opportunity to win Wimbledon, because she played really well, and I was able to hang in there. Not that I played bad. I played pretty decent myself.
But, yeah, I'm just going to play her again. I'm a little more calmer this year. I was looking at some tapes. Last year I was a spaz. I'm definitely more calm. I can handle those situations a little better.
Q. What was your input on the marketing strategy of the WTA and its emphasis on the muscular and physical nature of the players? What do you make of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we're not putting an emphasis on the muscularity of our players on the WTA Tour.. What we're doing is just saying ‑ what is it, what is the ad?
Q. Get in touch with your feminine side.
SERENA WILLIAMS: We're not necessarily saying ‑‑ we're saying it's okay to be fit, but at the same time stay in touch with your feminine side.
Q. Is it important to you to be both very beautiful and strong? That's not a message that a lot of girls have gotten.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely is for me important to stay strong and stay fit, but at the same time be very feminine because that's just who I've always been.
Q. Do you like to be a role model for women in general, they don't have to be pencil thin to be glamorous.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's important, because not everyone can be 90 pounds. Unfortunately, I think that is what our society has believed. All models these days are just drinking coffee, actually drinking wine, and that's it. It's pretty difficult to stay ‑‑ not everyone can do that. And it's not very healthy at all. So it's important to be very healthy because you want your life to last as long as it can.
Q. Yesterday the men's top seed lost to a player ranked 203 in the world. Next on court, the No. 2 seed in the women's draw won 6‑0, 6‑0. Do you think that reflects badly on the depth in the women's game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. As you can tell in the past year, there's been a lot of depth in the women's game, plenty.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I like to read.
Q. Are you a Harry Potter fan?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I started with Harry Potter, then everybody jumped on the train, so I jumped off. I was reading Harry years ago.
Williams x2 ∞ Clijsters ∞ Golovin ∞ Ivanovic ∞ Li ∞ Jackson
Federer ∞ Blake ∞ Fish ∞ Roddick ∞ Grosjean ∞ Bryans x2
"I believe in being polite, you know. In life, the elevator goes both ways, up and down."
-- Roger Federer