Serena Williams — 2009 US Open Meltdown Post-match Conference
September 12, 2009
K. CLIJSTERS/S. Williams
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. To the best of your knowledge, what did you say to the lineswoman out there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I said something that I guess they gave me a point penalty. Unfortunately it was on match point.
Q. What did you say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What did I say? You didn’t hear? Oh.
Q. What is your consideration of what the linesperson did? Obviously you had a problem with it.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah. Clearly just ?? in all year I don’t ?? I’ve never been foot faulted, and then suddenly in this tournament they keep calling foot faults.
I’m not saying I don’t, but like ?? I don’t know. You know, I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse. If I foot fault, I did. It was what it was, and that’s basically all it was.
Q. Do you think that the lineswoman had any reason to feel threatened? Apparently she says she felt threatened.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She says she felt threatened? She said this to you?
Q. I’m just repeating what has been said that she told the chair umpire.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I’ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don’t know why she would have felt threatened.
Q. Is it your impression that the chair umpire called her to get her side of it, or did she volunteer her side of it to the chair umpire?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I think she volunteered and went over there and said some things. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I was getting ready for the next point.
Q. How devastated are you that a match of this caliber had to end that way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I’m just clearly not happy, but it was ?? I don’t know. Like, I mean, obviously I wanted to fight.
I always fight when I’m down and keep going. I planned on hitting a couple of aces, but I guess it didn’t work out.
Q. Kim looked absolutely stricken, too.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t think she understood maybe. I don’t think she actually understood it was a point penalty, which meant that I lost that point, which meant that I lost the match.
So that was kind of the whole thing. And I think maybe the umpire should have said something.
Q. Did you say something to the umpire to be misconstrued as a threat? Did you say something to the linesperson that could be construed as a threat?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn’t threaten. I didn’t say ?? I don’t remember anymore, to be honest. I was in the moment. And, you know, everyone’s fighting for every point. It was a really crucial point, 15?30, actually.
And, you know, at that point you just kind of keep going.
Q. Did you realize when the linesperson went to the net and went to the chair umpire that you already had the violation from the first set and that this could mean a point penalty in the end of the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn’t think I would get a point penalty. I didn’t think about it. So, you know, I’ve been more positive on the court lately.
You know, today was a tough day. I didn’t play my best. I kind of felt like I had more errors today I think than all my matches combined.
And it was just ?? it was just really tough for me out there.
Q. What degree do you think this taints defeat?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t think it does. I think that Kim played really well, and I think she came out with a really big plan. I think that, you know, the next time we play I’ll know a little bit more about her game, what to expect, and, you know, what to do.
Q. Do you regret losing your temper though both after the first set and after the foot fault?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven’t really thought about it to have any regrets. I try to ?? I’ve done ?? you know, I try not to live my life saying, I wish, I wish. But, you know, I was out there and I fought and I tried and I did my best.
Q. To what extent do you think maybe the weather and maybe uncertainty of the matches contributed to you maybe losing your temper?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What? That’s like the craziest question I ever heard. Weather make you lose your temper? Usually if it’s hot you lose your temper, not when it’s cold. Come on.
Q. Did it affect your focus?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it didn’t necessarily affect my focus. I’m a really, really intense player, and I always have been. I mean, my idol is John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, so ?? and Monica Seles, actually. It’s kind of a big mixture.
But I just am a really intense person, and I give 200% in everything I do, whether I’m playing tennis or whether I am doing something else. I just go for it.
Q. You’ve always prided yourself on being an extremely forthright player, and with us here in the press room. Could you tell us what you said on court, please?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t think that’s necessary for me to speak about that. I’ve let it go, and I’m trying to better ?? to, you know, to get ?? to move on.
Q. On court it was picked up where you said, I would never say such?and?such to you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because I think she said I would kill you, and I was like, What? I was like, Wait a minute.
But then I had misheard. She had never said that. So that was just something ?? I was like, Whoa. Because I was like, Wait a minute. Let’s not ?? because I’m not that way. So.
She was like, No, I didn’t say that. She said something else. I said, Oh, okay. I get it. And I was totally fine, because at that point I realized I got a point penalty and it was match point.
What can I do? I’m not going to complain. It was what it was.
Q. What did she say you said?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. Like I said, I wasn’t there. I was actually at the baseline preparing my serve, and I think maybe she went to the umpire at that point. Actually I didn’t even see her walk over to the umpire, so I have no idea what she did.
Q. Are you surprised what a high level Kim plays after being out of the game for two and a half years? You know her from before.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I think that ?? I mean, I wasn’t surprised, because I saw her play I think in Cincinnati, and she played incredible. I thought, wow, you know, this is someone to watch out for.
I think it’s really good to have her back on the tour. Maybe we can get together and have some calming lessons.
Q. Kim seemed not to want the match to end that way. What did she say to you when you went up to shake hands?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She said she was sorry, and I was like, it wasn’t her fault. It was just a point penalty, just at a bad time, basically.
So I just said, Good luck.
Q. What did Venus have to say for you after the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, you know, I don’t ?? that was between me and V.
Q. Do you feel like others have been more angry in tennis matches and not lost them on a code violation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely. You know, I’m not ?? I feel like there’s been ?? you know, I was watching lots of matches just because of all the rain coverage. There have been a lot of things out there, a lot of arguments in the past. And, you know, they unfortunately ?? well, fortunately didn’t lose the match.
But, you know, I just ?? like I said, you know, things always ?? I don’t know. It’s fine. I’m moving on.
Q. How will you look back on this, Serena? How will you look back on this match and the way it ended?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, I haven’t had a chance to think about it. I feel that I could have played better again. I feel that Kim played an incredible match, and, you know, she definitely came out with a plan. I’m glad I got a chance to play, because now I know what to expect and what to do and what to work on.
I think there’s so many things that I can do on the court to actually do better, so that’s why I can think about what I can do better and learn from it, which I think is actually exciting.
Q. Just to follow on this, how much of your body language on the court, you know, played a part in her thinking otherwise on what happened out there today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don’t understand your question, and I’m sorry. I just didn’t… I couldn’t relate to it.
Q. Let me ask the question like this: If you were to do anything different than what happened out on the court, what would you do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think I would come to the net a little bit more. I think I didn’t play aggressive enough tennis, and I would try not to make any errors. I didn’t ?? I wasn’t at my A game or B game today, so that’s what I would do different.
Q. Your book talks so much about how you’ve learned from different experiences and really advanced your life. Aside from the X and is Os of strokes, what do you think you’ll learn from this situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think that I’ll learn that, you know, it pays to always play your best and always be your best and always act your best no matter what.
And I think that I’m, you know, I’m young and I feel like in life everyone has to have experience that they take and that they learn from, and I think that’s great that I have an opportunity to still be physically fit to go several more years and learn from the past.
I like to learn from the past, live in the present, and not make the same mistakes in the future.
Q. Who actually informed you? Was it the umpire who informed you of the point penalty?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it was ?? is it ?? it was Brian Earley who said I had a point penalty. I was like, Okay, wait. That means the match. And so it was him that informed me.
Q. Do you think it was an unfair decision apart from when it happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, the system ?? the system goes if you have a code violation, then I guess the next one ?? well, usually goes warning, then ?? I don’t know. Whatever.
So I guess I was at the next stage, and I just think it was at a bad time.
Q. You seemed to let go very quickly right after the match. Being the last point, match point, does that have anything to do with if it wasn’t the match point you still would have been able to let go of it so quickly? That was pretty impressive when you think about it.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And I appreciate you saying that. But if I ?? you know, it was a situation where ?? I lost my train of thought. Can you repeat that question?
Q. You were able to let go of the emotions. You’re very calm now. It was, Hey, you know, you lost.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I try to be really professional. I think Kim played a wonderful match, and I think I played good, too. I think I could have played better, and I actually feel like I can go home and I can actually do better, which I’m really excited about.
There’s someone out there that makes me want to go home and makes me want to work out and makes me want to run and do better. I can’t wait to do that. I think that when I was down, you know, what was I ?? I’m not the beggar, like, Please, please, let me have another chance, because it was the rules, and I play by the rules.
If I get hit, I say I got hit, you know. I play by the rules. That’s what it was.
Q. How do you think Kim is playing in comparison to how she played before she retired?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I, um, live in the moment a little too much. I don’t quite remember how she played before she retired, but I think now she’s playing incredible. I remember her being a wonderful mover, and she’s moving really well now, as well. So I think she’s ?? I don’t know.
Q. Do you think the lineswoman deserves an apology?
SERENA WILLIAMS: An apology for?
Q. From you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: From me?
Q. For the yelling and what you said.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, how many people yell at linespeople? So I think, you know, if you look at ?? I don’t know. All the people that, you know, kind of yell at linespeople, I think it’s ?? kind of comes sometimes. Players, athletes get frustrated. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that happen.
Q. How does this compare to seeing the tiebreaker count get lost at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, this is no comparison to that. That was completely absurd. It wasn’t Venus at fault at all. This was a point where I had a point penalty just on match point.
Q. If you could say something now to that linesperson, what would you say now that you’ve calmed down and had a chance to think about what happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, I haven’t quite thought about that yet, and, you know, maybe I’ll see her.
Q. Have you ever had a point penalty before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, I’m not quite sure. Have I, do you think?
I used to have a real temper, and I’ve gotten a lot better. So I know you don’t believe me, but I used to be worse. Yes, yes, indeed.
Q. How many times were you called for a foot fault during this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: A lot. I mean, compared to all year? A lot. I haven’t been called for a foot fault all year until I got to New York, so maybe when I come to this tournament I have to step two feet back.
Q. Would you be interested to see if you actually foot faulted?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m pretty sure I did. If she called a foot fault, she must have seen a foot fault. I mean, she was doing her job. I’m not going to knock her for not doing her job.
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