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Serena Williams Interview - Wimbledon, June 22
Posted on June 22, 2009
Q. What is the biggest mental challenge of the early‑round matches that at least the outsiders take for granted?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, no one wants to lose in the first round. So everyone you play is always really into it and really fighting, and I think that is a big difference. That people don't really know.
Q. What is it for you? When you step on the court, what is the greatest difficulty when you face a player that everyone is thinking, Well, this is Serena's match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, you know, it's just ‑‑ it's just taking that confidence and building on it. I always feel like if people can believe in me, then I should, too.
I always think about, you know, how I feel when other people that are top seeded, when they're playing, I'm like,
Okay, they'll win, they'll win. So I feel like I should feel that way about myself, as well.
Q. The first set went in a blink of an eye. The second set was much more competitive. Was that a dip in your concentration, or did she increase her game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There was definitely a little bit of both. I definitely think she increased her game, but also I think my concentration wasn't ‑‑ although I wanted it to be, on some key points, it wasn't where it should have been.
And, you know, it's just a point here or there that can make or break a match.
Q. How pleased generally were you with your performance today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought I served well. I thought, you know, in practice I've been doing a little bit better. I thought I could have played a ton better, especially on key points.
And, uhm, I feel like hopefully as the tournament goes on and progresses, I'll get there.
Q. Is that a usual feeling for you in the early stages of a tournament? You end up thinking, I could have played a ton better?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's a usual feeling for me from first round to the finals. Uhm, but usually, uhm ‑ you know, I'm really insatiable. I always want more.
Q. You and your sister have dominated Wimbledon for so many years now. Dinara Safina is the No. 1 seed this year. Wimbledon deserves the right to change the seedings. Do you think you or Venus should have been the No. 1 seed, especially with Venus defending?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I think Dinara should be the No. 1 seed. She's been really consistent the last couple months. She's earned that No. 1 ranking.
Q. A moment ago you gave your opponent today credit for lifting her game in the second set. What is your feeling after a match about giving credit to an opponent? As you know, different players approach that different ways. They either focus just on how they played, or they analyze how their opponent played. What is your approach when you speak to the press and you speak to others about assessing your opponent's game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't know. My approach is just to be me, and I never thought about that. I've never been asked that question all my years of playing.
So hurrah for a new question (smiling).
Q. After the French, some said maybe you should have given more credit to your opponent who defeated you. How tough is it, after a loss, to analyze the defeat and assess credit for your opponent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I feel like I did give credit to Svetlana. I get along with her well. There's no problems between me and her.
I feel like I choked. I should have won the match and I didn't, and she went on to glory. That's just the bottom line. There's nothing else to be said about it.
Q. In other matches do you sometimes think that it's different, it is your opponent who took a match away from you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, honestly I think whenever I lose, typically I think the match is on my racquet; it's up to me to decide whether to win or lose. Meaning if I make errors and I'm not playing great ‑‑ I've always said if I'm playing my best tennis, it's hard for anyone to beat me. With that being said, I think the match is usually on my racquet.
Q. You talked about getting asked a new question. After years and years of press conference after press conference, what is the thing you're most utterly fed up of talking about that you get asked?
SERENA WILLIAMS: How does it feel to play your sister? I might start boycotting that.
Q. Next question. How does it feel to play your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It feels great (smiling).
Q. Do you know anything about your next opponent, Jarmila Groth?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not too familiar. No. Where is she from?
Q. Used to be Slovakia, but now Australia.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay. Yeah, I do know her then.
Q. You've played her.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. So once I hear where they're from, sometimes I know who they are. Yeah, but I'm really familiar with her game. She's a good player, obviously. And, uhm, she's tough.
Q. There are so many new names in the game, many not from our country. Is it hard to follow who's who?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just know the standard: everyone is from Russia. Sometimes I think I'm from Russia, too. I feel like, you know, okay, all these new ‑ovas. I don't know anyone. I don't really recognize anyone. You know, that's just how it is.
Q. So are you saying you came to Compton when you were seven years old from Russia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I am, and I think my name must Williamsova.
Q. Are you happy about Kim Clijsters' return?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's a great person. I mean, a wonderful personality. She just has a great heart. And to have, you know, someone missed in tennis like that, you can really feel that loss. It will be exciting to see her back.
Q. When you went home, did you spend any time thinking that you could have won the French Open, or did you just forget about it right away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, that goes on the list of tournaments I should have won, so...
Well, I don't know if I should have won. I feel like I had a chance to win my quarterfinal match and I didn't. You know, I was more disappointed than normal, actually.
Q. Top three on your list of tournaments you should have won are?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's one of 'em. Another French Open in '98.
Q. Was that Justine?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That was a long time ago. No, 1998 was against Sanchez. If I'd have just served and volleyed (laughter). I don't know the third one.
Q. What about Wimbledon against Maria in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, in that match I was really nervous. You know, I thought she played well, but I thought that I put too much pressure on myself. I actually learned from that. I just put way too much, and I couldn't get a shot.
So it wasn't like ‑‑ no, that doesn't go under that as one of those matches.
Q. Is it easier when you blow a match on a tactical basis, as in, I should have served and volleyed, versus when you blow it just from a mental point and a freeze‑up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. They're both pretty difficult. But, you know, I try to learn from all experiences. You know, I try to think about other things that are maybe more important.
Q. And the reverse of that, do you think there's any big tournament that you won and said, Wow, thank you tennis gods, that was nice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, maybe Indian Wells in '01. I definitely didn't expect to win that, as well as obviously Australia in '07. I didn't expect to win that.
Q. Can you assess Neuza Silva's game a little bit for us?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've never seen her play before. I thought she had a really good game, especially for the grass. I can see why she came through qualifying and gave me such a difficult time. You know, she's a fighter. You know, she got lots of balls back. So, you know, I thought she played really well.
Q. It was her first Grand Slam match, against you, on Centre Court. Her attitude?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What a wonderful attitude she had. I had no idea. I thought she played incredibly. I thought she was really positive, really calm, to be her first match on Centre Court.
Q. The roof, you've seen it now. What do you think of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I just thought it was gonna rain. I thought, Well, if it rains, then I'll still play, so... Uhm, that's what I thought of it.
It's nice. It's really pretty.