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An Interview With: Serena Williams (Quarterfinals)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Q. You and your sister have played each other a number of times in the past, but never before with the calendar Grand Slam on the line. In terms of mental preparation, did you do anything different this time compared to the last times that you played each other?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, there's nothing that I did different. I just was out there to play a really tough opponent today.

Q. What did that embrace with Venus at the end mean to you and how do you think you'll look back on it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I will look back on it fondly. It means a lot to me. Obviously we are very, very tough competitors on the court, but once the match is over and the second it's done, you know, we're sisters, we're roommates, and we're all that.

Q. Venus came up with some incredible level of play tonight. People kept talking about she's the older sister looking out for you, but she's gone through a lot. What does it mean for you that she's back to this level again and you were able to go out there tonight and do that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really great to see her do so well. She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It's probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn't actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent.

Yeah, so it was just seeing and knowing that she has that level is so good and inspiring, as well, and hopefully it's encouraging for her, too. I think against any other player she for sure would have won.

Q. Was there a point in the match early on when you thought or you can tell Venus has her A game and this is going to be trouble?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, just in the very first game I knew she was playing well. But she played really well in her last match and she's been playing really well all tournament.

She's been going through this tournament really sneaky and on the low, and that was, I think, also really good for her.

Q. She knows your game very well. How do you play against that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Because I know her game well, so I think it actually evens out.

Q. Is there any other opponent across your career that has consistently given you as much trouble as your sister?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. No, I mean, she's still playing, as well. I have played a lot of great players like Lindsay and Jennifer and Martina and Kim and Justine. I have had a lot of losses against those players, as well. They just didn't have, I think, what the pressure -- they didn't know my game and they just didn't beat me as many times as Venus has.

Q. One of the great players you faced very early in your career a couple of times was Steffi. Could you take a minute and just talk about her game, break down her game a bit and what made her so tough?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she was Steffi Graf. I think that's what made her really tough. You know, when you're young and going against Steffi Graf, I mean, that, I think, pretty much sums it up.

Q. Her forehand, how does that compare with some of the other strokes you faced in your career?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, honestly it's been a really long time since I have played her, but I just do remember her having an unbelievable forehand. I think her backhand was amazing, too, because she had that really good slice.

She was very athletic and very fast. She did a lot of things really well.

Q. When you split sets and you are sitting there in changeover chair and your sister is a few feet away from you, what's the narrative going through your head going into that the final set with so much on the line? What's the talk?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm thinking, at that point I was glad to be starting out serving. Just thought, Okay, I want to hold serve early on and see what happens. Just, What am I not doing? What am I not doing? What can I do better?

Nothing different goes in my mind as when I'm playing anyone else.

Q. That pragmatic? Nothing else swirling around?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, there is a lot of things going on in my mind, but nothing different from when I'm playing anyone else.

Q. These matches really intrigue the tennis public when you play your sister, and nontennis fans, too. Most important part of this is winning the match, but can you enjoy that at all in terms of what it means for the sport, or is the feeling, we're going through this again and we will hear a lot of the same? Everybody will talk about me playing my sister again, and you just kind of want to be done with it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I didn't really listen to a lot of the press and read anything about it, so I kind of was in a hole and I didn't turn on my TV and didn't watch any of the matches yesterday, men or women. I didn't really live in that world.

But, yeah, it's a big topic because I think it's the greatest story in tennis because we really -- you know, with our how we started and how we grew up and how we were able to win Championships and be, you know, such inspirations for so many women across the globe, I mean, it doesn't get better than that.

Q. You just won a match. Normally you smile when you win you come here, you laugh. What happens tonight? Is just because you beat Venus or because you're thinking about what is going next? What's wrong?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't want to be here. (Laughter.) I just want to be in bed right now. I have to wake up early to practice.

I don't want to answer any of these questions and you keep asking me the same questions.

It's not really -- you're not making it super enjoyable. (Laughter.)

Q. At least I made you laugh.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm just being honest.

Q. At least I made you smile. Can I just ask you...

SERENA WILLIAMS: Is it about Venus again?

Q. About Roberta Vinci, of course. Even in Italy we think that she has no chance, but what is your opinion about it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it's good. I played her in Canada. She played me really tough, and I didn't really expect that. That's how I sprained my finger actually, was playing against her.

Thankfully my finger is a little better now. But, yeah, so I'm not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She's not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play.

I think it was really good. Again, I just think it was great that I played her because I kind of know what to expect, and I'll be more ready for it this time.

Q. Venus said that one of the best things even about losing was taking pride in you and watching you go on in your quest for the calendar year slam and how that was very important to your family. How does your success and your family's success all blend together?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think my success is our success. You know, we all started together and we all are still together. So I think, yeah, I didn't know it was important to my family, actually, but...

It is important to me, but at the same time, you know, it is what it is. I'll do what I can.

Q. Do you get more drained emotionally, physically, mentally playing against Venus than anybody else? When you're done, are you more tapped out than when you play anybody else?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It depends. Today was a very tough match today. It wasn't an easy match.

So just thinking what I could do better. Yeah, so it just really depends.

Q. You said you were an inspiration to women around the world. I know it's late, but can you give us some feedback on how you've gotten feedback about that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, just nowadays with social media you can get a lot of feedback. It's kind of cool. You can sometimes see people say things that are just so positive or people post things like how inspiring my family is or Venus and I are and how they want to do it, they want to be like us, and how they started school or they started tennis.

It's not always tennis. It's just about how they started their lives and how we were able to inspire them. So I think that's really kind of cool. You know, every time I read one it's almost surreal like knowing that I and my sister have been able to inspire so many people and so many women.

It's definitely something that when you're growing up you don't think, like, you know, I want to inspire people to do this. I just want to win some Grand Slams.

There is so much more to it that you don't realize at the time.

Q. Venus said at the net when she hugged you she said, I'm just so happy for you.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, everyone in this room knows that Venus is probably one of the greatest people on the tour. She's really great. She's super professional. Complete opposite of me. (Laughter.)

Which actually that's not true, but I'm just making a joke since you said I'm not laughing.

Q. Thanks. Did she saying else, and what did you say back to her at the net?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Just, Thanks. I don't remember, to be honest, actually. Usually I do, but I don't remember.

Q. Would you say that Vinci is a vintage tennis player? She plays one-hand backhand? Nobody else does it after Justine Henin.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I played someone first round at Wimbledon who hit some rocket one-handed backhand. Yeah, they are very few and far between. I don't know if she's a vintage because she's such a good one-handed backhand.

Yeah, she's definitely -- she has that mean slice on that backhand, too.

Q. Coming to the net a little bit more?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Definitely a little bit more old school, but also a really great matchup, because it's fun to see people that can still come to the net and still hit slice and still hit one-handers. It's different. It's good for tennis.

Q. You're very demonstrative tonight in a way you haven't against Venus. Clearly you obviously wanted this match. After all that, how gratifying was it to walk to the net and get that hug from Venus? It was a nice moment.

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was gratifying because you're out there and you want to win so bad in that moment, and then when the moment is over -- because every single match I root for her every time, and so it's interesting to be in a position to what you're trying to win.

Q. What was the most satisfying part of the experience for you tonight?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Walking off the court and it being over with.