Serena Williams Interview - Australian Open (Jan 23)

Posted on January 23, 2007


3-6, 6-2, 8-6

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Who writes your scripts?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm a good writer, so I usually do all the writing.

Q. Two points from defeat.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought about it, yeah. Two points to Qantas Flight 17, yeah.

Q. Where would you put that up there with some of your three-set wins?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don't know. I've had some really incredible three-set wins in my career. I don't know where I'll put that one. It wouldn't be No. 1.

Q. How do you feel about your level of play today compared to Jankovic?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think I played today as strong. I think I came out a little flat, started out a little slow. Maybe I just -- I don't know, I think maybe I was just a little nervous. My feet, I didn't have enough blood pressure in my feet. I just had to get going.

I had to kind of work my way in the match.

Q. Why do you think you had a flatter game today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think I put a little pressure on myself going into this quarterfinal. I played her before. I knew she was a tough player. We had a tough match before, at least in the second set it was real tough.

I knew that I had a chance. I knew that, you know, I had a big opportunity to be in the semifinals again. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself. I just somehow came out flat.

Q. When was the last time you played a semifinal at a Slam but hadn't played your opponent?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't think that far back right now. I'm sure it happened.

Q. Is it an odd feeling to have at this stage of the tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, nonetheless, we both kind of had the feeling. We both at the end of the day are starting at 0-0 and we're going to go at it.

Q. Did the sickness affect you at all today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I've had a bad cough. I'm trying to get over that. I've pretty much gotten over the rest. I've been like going beyond the call of duty to get rid of my sickness. It's a bad time to get sick.

What doesn't break me makes me stronger, I guess.

Q. What have you been doing to try to get over it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've been like doing a lot of steam, like sitting over a pot with a towel over my head (laughter). I'm sitting there for like 10 minutes sweating it all out. I put peppermint tea and eucalyptus, slaving over that pot. I've been drinking a lot of water, trying to go to bed early. I think that helped me out a lot.

Q. Talk about your serving in the third set, the latter part. You hit a lot of clutch serves. Looked like you were tiring at that point in the match.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I wasn't tiring at all. I actually got more confident in my serve as the match got on. I just started hitting it better, started feeling more confident about it.

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Q. One stroke you've always felt never departed you in the ups and downs in the last few years?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I like my serve a lot. I can always depend on it. Sometimes I have a low first-serve percentage, but at the end of the day if I'm serving well, for the most part I'm playing well.

Q. You said on the court that you're the ultimate competitor. When you got to that space where you're two points from being defeated, do you like that situation? Do you live for a situation like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I hate that situation, and I'm tired of being in that situation (laughter). I don't know why I had to be in that situation today because I was up 4-1. All I had to do was hold. I didn't have to be there.

I just become 'sang froid' in that situation. I get so calm. I'm floating. I feel so happy. It just relaxes me and releases. It's just a pity it doesn't happen when I was up 4-1.

Q. Is that calm conditions what happened you today? Your opponent had a lot more breakpoint opportunities, but you converted nearly every one you had.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that helped me a lot. I didn't know that stat, so that's good.

Q. Are you ready to create some more carnage in the last two rounds?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely ready to create some more carnage hopefully (smiling).

Q. Do you feel pressure from being one of the few Americans that are being successful lately in the women's division? Not one woman was seeded in the top 16 here from the United States.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Was there one in the top 32?

Q. No.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel absolutely no pressure. I haven't played much. I played four tournaments I think last year. Already at half that and it's only January this year. I'm doing a lot better.

I feel no pressure. I'm just out to play and be happy, enjoy myself more than anything. I think when I do that, I play some of my best tennis.

Q. Have you heard from anybody at home that you haven't heard from for a while, all of a sudden the messages of good wishes?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really, no, which is good. Those people are probably cut to the side. I need people that are with me the whole time, through thick and thin, not only the good times. Most of the people I hear from, they always hit me up, so to say, when I'm No. 1 or No. 81, yeah.

Q. Were you puzzled at first by your forehand? Couldn't seem to hit anything in.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was definitely, you know, upset because my forehand has been the one shot that I love to hit. I've even been running around a few balls to hit some forehands, even though I still run around to hit some backhands.

I wasn't really feeling the ball right, so I'm going to go and work on that hopefully.

Q. When you're that out of rhythm, are you telling yourself to play steady or something else?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm just telling myself just to stay positive more than anything. Like I said, I have to be my biggest fan out there. I don't want to get down on myself.

Q. You were three points from. You hit that beautiful backhand cross-court return when she was serving for the match. Did you think of that ahead of time? Where did it come from?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember. I figured if I was going to go out, I'm going to go out striking, as I always do, go out on top (pumping fist). I don't remember that at all actually.

Q. Does it feel like a magic carpet ride? A lot of people didn't think you would get this far.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think anyone thought I would get this far, except for me and my mom.

Q. Isn't that a pat-on-the-back time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think it's pat-on-the-back time at the end of the tournament, whether it's the semifinals or the winner. Like always, I always believe in myself. It doesn't matter what all the commentators say or what all the writers say. At the end of the day, first of all I usually turn the volume down because

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of the negativity really is amazing. I don't read the papers. I think that ends up helping me a lot.

I always pat myself on the back whether I'm walking down the street or whether I'm winning a match. Like I said, I have to be my No. 1 fan out there because I have to be able to support myself more than anyone.

Q. Why does that negativity exist, in your opinion?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Just haters, to be honest. A lot of people don't have that negativity all the time. I guess it's a big story to write negative things about me as opposed to positive things sometimes. Or, hey, when you're down, people sometimes try to kick you.

I think what's awesome is always being able to stay up. But, like I said, I hear things, but I don't read that stuff because it could really affect one. It's like people get pleasure out of talking bad. Does it make them feel good when it makes me feel bad? I guess it does.

At the end of the day, I go home to my little dogs and my family. You know, I'm always going to be happy.

Q. Do you ever read the positive things that are written about you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't read anything. I don't. One time I read like -- I think it was like '99, I read this article. It was really good. I was like, Oh, yeah, I'm the bomb. I just got too headstrong. I was just like, you know what, I don't want to be like some of those celebrities walking around, just so full of themselves. I always want to be down-to-earth, want to be a person like when you meet them, they're the same person that you think of them in the article or something.

I'm like, you know what, when my career is over, I've been saving a lot of articles, I'll go back and read 'em. I don't want to be like big-headed, I can barely get through the door. I think it works in both ways, as well.

Q. You were saying you're always staying positive on court. When you make unforced errors, occasionally it's pretty obvious you're yelling at yourself.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I used to be worse, though. I used to smash racquets. My racquets used to slip (smiling). They haven't slipped all tournament, although it slipped once in practice. For the matches, it hasn't slipped.

Q. What did you make of her performance? First Israeli player to make the quarterfinal. The entire country was watching at 4 in the morning.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's amazing. Her performance and her play for all of Israel is great. I couldn't be more happy for her because, you know, you have just one person going the lone ride. I think she's doing a great job.

She's obviously a solid player. She obviously has a very bright future. I think Israelis might be up 4 in the morning a lot more.

Q. Your mother is your coach. You've had a good week. What can you say about her contribution to how you're doing at this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: My mom, she's tough on me. I think that helps. She's pretty tough on me. She doesn't let one ball slide. Like if I hit it wrong, she's telling me. It bothers me. You know, I guess it helps me.

Q. What do you read at the changeovers?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I love to read. I love reading novels. I read all the Harry Potter books. I'm not reading the last one because I was crying at the last one I read. I'm not going to read any more. I'm too emotionally involved (laughter). I read like a Nelson DeMille novel. One of my favorite books is called The Charm School. I read this one book called Gideon. I read that new one that came out, Eragon. The book was so much better than the movie. I was so disappointed with the movie. I was waiting like six months for the movie to come out. I read a lot of that. I watch tons of TV.

Q. Do you write something by yourself?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I like to write a lot, too. I love writing. The more I read, the more my mind -- like I'm a Libra, I'm thinking of crazy things inside there. I'm really artistic and hands-on. The more I read, the more I write.

Q. Negative or not, can you understand how the fans or press have doubts about you coming in here, seeing how you haven't played and haven't had great results in two years?

SERENA WILLIAMS: All I'm saying is you don't knock someone when they're down. I understand people have the right to write what they want to. You don't just knock someone so hard when they're trying just to make it.

Like I never once, about anyone in my

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whole career, said anything negative about anybody. But yet some people go out and they say negative things about me. That's just the road I've always taken. At the end of the day, if that's the road other people want to take, so be it. But it's not going to get me down by no means.

I never gave anyone anything negative to write. No one knows what I went through off the court. No one knows anything that I've been through. That always is hard, too. But whatever.

Q. We're all here. Tell us.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You'll have to read the book (laughter).

Q. When is the last time you had to dig so deep to win a match? How much more do you think you have in your tank?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I have a lot left in my tank. When I had to dig so deep? I had to dig deep to beat Petrova because she was playing unbelievable. She was really ready.

Q. Did you enjoy the battle between the spectators, the Israelis, the Americans?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was fun. Like I said, it was awesome that she's doing so well for Israel, and there's no players. That's just really cool. She had her whole fan section going on. I was excited to hear someone saying, Come on, Serena. I was like, Yes, finally. It was really awesome.

Q. If you were to finish this script today on how this Australian Open would go, how would it end?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I think we could all see how it ends. I don't know. There's always different turns in scripts. You never know.

I'm just happy to be playing again. I'm happy to go to India in a couple weeks, keep playing these tournaments. Most of all I'm happy that I won't be ranked No. 81 any more. That's how this one ends. Whatever happens, I'm ready to compete for the rest of the year and years to come.

Q. Which number do you think you deserve as you are playing now?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Maybe -- I don't know. We'll see. I'm not saying anything.

Q. Do your earrings ever get in the way with your swings or anything?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I don't even feel 'em.

Q. The wins sweeter now that the expectations aren't there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I like being No. 1 seed. I like being No. 1, obviously. I like being expected to win. I like that pressure. Vice versa, I like being not expected to win, have no pressure. I like being the underdog. You can't stay the underdog forever.

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