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Mar 30th, 2002, 09:56 PM
S. WILLIAMS/J. Capriati
7-5, 7-6
An Interview With:

SERENA WILLIAMS

THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.

Q. Congratulations. Have you ever met an easy shot that you liked?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Pardon me?

Q. Have you ever met an easy shot that you liked? You missed a million easy shots and made all the tough ones.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don't know what happened. Usually I make all the easy ones. I got tired of missing the easy ones, but, hey, some days it's just like that.

Q. Good to know your sister no longer has bragging rights about winning this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's about time I was able to win it. But she has two up on me. In only about five years, she's won three times. She still has bragging rights.

Q. Do you have a general emotional attitude when you approach a big point when you play Jennifer?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, normally when I play Jennifer we always go three sets. I was really determined - since I had won the first set - I was determined to try to close it out in two.

Seemed like I couldn't move my feet for a while. Then it just came through for me in the end. I was determined to just try to win the shots and make some points.

Q. Last year after you won -- lost to Jennifer in the quarters, you sat in the room and characterized your play as "sloppy." How would you characterize it today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was a bit similar. I kind of played a little sloppy today too. I don't know, how many errors did I make today?

Q. 59.

SERENA WILLIAMS: 59... That is unbelievable. Oh, my God.

Man... So, there's room for improvement.

Q. You made the last point.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I made the last points and the points that really counted. I really just got there and went in for it. That's way too high. Way too many errors. That's sloppy.

Q. Can you talk about your feelings once you won?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Once I won I was really happy. I was happy not to be going to a third set. It was already a two-hour match, like two hours and, I don't know, four or five minutes.

And, yeah, I was really happy. I was like, "Yes," and I wanted to win this tournament. I'd been in the finals before and I lost. I really wanted to win this -- take this title. Since I had beaten Venus, I felt it was my duty to take this title because Venus would have took it herself I believe. So I felt it was my personal duty.

Q. When you actually come back to this end here, south end, your dad's sitting in that corner, we can see him shouting one or two things. Can you actually hear what he's saying?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I never heard him shouting anything. Was he?

Q. Yeah, oh, yeah.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No...

Q. Didn't catch it anyway?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe I should have. Then I probably wouldn't have made so many errors. But I didn't hear him.

Q. He was pretty animated?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, really?

Q. Yeah. Did you hear his shutter clicking on his camera?

SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughing) no, I didn't. I didn't even see him with his camera today. After the match I saw him but I didn't see him during the match. He had it during the match?

Q. Yeah.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess I was pretty focused on the court. I didn't see him with his camera.

Q. Serena, what did you do differently to prepare for this final than you would have in the past? Is there anything that you did differently? Superstitiously or anything?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't -- I'm not superstitious. I don't believe in luck, and I try not to do -- it's hard, though. It's really hard to change your pattern when you're doing well with it. So it's kind of hard. But I try to, you know, do things different. I have a pair of socks that I've been wearing every match. I've never lost a match in these socks so I guess that is a little superstitious. I wore them against Venus. I didn't wear them at the US Open, though. I couldn't find them (laughter). But I found them. They're a little bit dirty.

Q. You do wash them?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I wash them after the tournament's over.

Q. How about when you both came out in red dresses?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was kind of cool that we were both out in the red. It was hot, a lot of fire going out there. So that was kind of fun.

Q. To beat Hingis, your sister, then Capriati in successive matches, what do you think that says about where your form is at the moment and how well you're playing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think versus Hingis and Venus, my form is where I almost want it to be. Today wasn't quite where I want it to be. But for me to come out with a win, that means my mental game is up where I want it to be in. Tennis is so mental. You might be physically strong and have the game, but if you're not mentally strong, it's going to be hard.

So I think it all came through for me this week, these two weeks.

Q. Do you think you're showing more of a willingness to go to the net than these other players?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so, yeah. I'm not winning the shots. I seem to be missing the volleys. But I'm there, and it puts a lot of pressure on them. Yeah, I think that has something to do with it.

Q. Do you think you're closing matches out better than you were a year ago?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess you can say -- I try not to dwell on the past too much. So... I guess you can say I can.

Q. The ratings, who's the No. 1 player this week?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Jennifer will be No. 1 still. Unfortunately, I'm not up there. I haven't played enough tournaments. So you can't count it for week to week.

Q. Do you expect to rise?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, for sure. I hope for sure. Or else that's what I definitely expect to do.

Q. Do you think this title is an important milestone on the way to the No. 1 spot?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Yeah. This is a big tournament. Everyone's playing. So...

It's definitely a pretty big milestone, but there's always next week that's another milestone on clay. Clay season starts up. I can't wait to slide and slice (smiling) and, you know, lob.

Q. How much does this boost your confidence, beating No. 1 and No. 2?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think when I won in Scottsdale, it really boosted my confidence a lot because I was really ill and I was very tired and I won that. It was really exciting. This week, I guess it kind of boosts my confidence. This is my first tournament I won in straight sets, everything. So, I guess I'm pretty excited about it.

Q. You breezed to the final, Jennifer had a tough time. Do you feel you had the advantage? She had a late semifinal. You got out quick. Do you feel that was an advantage?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I think we both had a day off the next day. I think when you're playing tennis, you just need to go out there and play. I try not to look at it -- we've had a tough schedule, every player has had a tough schedule. Venus, at one point, had to play four matches in a row, which was unbelievable. I had to play basically eight -- six matches in eight days. She's had some tough -- I think she played two night matches in a row. It's been tough for all of us.

But you have to be ready for the conditions. It was kind of -- usually when I come here, it seems like I relax more. But this year seems like I -- I've just been on the court all the time. I always had a match every day. So it was kind of weird. It was really weird.

Q. You talked about mental strength. I think it was 3-3 in the tiebreak. Ball went pretty clearly out. Hot day, two hours. You might have thrown a fit over that. You looked that go?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Look, I don't have time to argue over this. Nothing I can do about it. There's nothing -- they're not going to change their minds no matter what, so I just don't argue calls. If I can't get it, that's too bad. I'll just tell the guy, "Look, for the next time," and maybe I should have hit it back. Maybe I should have went for a different shot. I just don't argue calls.

Q. At the set points began to pile up and you kept fighting them off in the second set, did you flash on the eight matchpoints she had against your sister last year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not at all. Not at all. I know she had a lot. I couldn't -- to this day, I still can't believe Venus won that match. But, no, I never thought back about it. I just was -- I didn't have time. I was really focused.

Q. Thought about winning in your own backyard. You can go home and celebrate with your friends home?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah. It's really exciting. I don't have many friends but I have family: My mom, Venus, dogs. So...

Yeah (laughing).

Q. Serena, when you got to the Canadian Open last year you had been given a lot of leads or some leads.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. Then you held on to beat Jennifer. Would you say you've been a different player since you ever came to that tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I say that was a big match for me when I won that event and the way I was able to win it. I came back and I really was focused the whole time. It was a milestone for me, and I've just been climbing the mountain ever since.

Q. How difficult has it been to get to that mental edge you've been talking about?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, it's not really difficult. It's just if you just stay focused and if you want to do it - just if I want to do it, I can do it. You just have to do it. If I don't want to do it, then I'm the type of person that I just won't be focused to do it.

As long as I tell myself, "Look, Serena, you need this, you want to do it," then I can do it.

Q. Did you ever hear, "Oh, Them Golden Slippers"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: What?

Q. Did you ever hear, "Oh, Them Golden Slippers"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. No, I didn't hear that one.

Q. Just one thing, Venus was saying a few weeks ago in Dubai you don't like to do any shopping. She goes to the shops all the time.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Like I'm the type of person -- I like to shop, but after two hours I'm done. Venus can stay in shops for days - literally. She can just look at one section for three hours. I would look at that section and move on.

Like when we do our fashion stuff, I go get like, some - the word I'm looking for is gone, I'm really tired - the things you would attach on to anything --.

Q. Accessories.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Accessories. You look at like a lot of accessories, a lot of rhinestones. I went to the same store in New York that she went to, I was there for like an hour, I was so tired mentally. I was like, "Okay, I'm done. Just give me anything. I'm ready to go. I'll shop on-line."

She was like, "Oh, your sister was in here for six hours."

I don't know how she does it. I just couldn't do it that long.

Q. You don't like food shopping?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. Venus has to beg me to go to the grocery store. She always cooks for me, so, you know...

The other day she told me to go and I didn't go, and I felt bad because she got home and I had yet to leave. I rushed out and I was back in five minutes without a ticket.

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