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Serena Williams 1R interview

  • def. Tatjana Maria 6-0 6-2

Q. Your thoughts this early after your win a couple years ago and just how you felt today's match went?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was nice to be back out there. Last time I was out there was a great moment, especially internally for me, it was even a better moment. I think it was a good match today.

Q. For those of us who are fashion-challenged, how would we describe what you wore today? It felt as if you were making a statement that you are as fit as you maybe have ever been. Was there some intent in that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, well, we design really far in advance at Nike. I knew that I have been working really, really hard in the off-season to be incredibly fit and incredibly ready. You know, I took a year off, and, you know, just get back with still trying to get 12 months under my belt of playing, actually. Yeah, I wanted to be fit. I came back. Nike always wants to make an incredibly strong, powerful statement for moms that are trying to get back and get fit. That was basically it for me.

Q. How do we describe – it's not a onesie, it's not a leotard. What is it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a Serena-tard (laughter).

Q. What were you pleased with the most today in terms of your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Consistency. I didn't make too many unforced errors, I think. She's a tricky player. Could have been easily a 6-3, 6-4 match or three-set match. She's been able to beat top players, No. 1 and No. 2, so she knows how to play. I think always when I have a tougher round or I know someone that's really good, I really want to be focused, and then that was really helpful for me today.

Q. After his match yesterday Andy says he feels there are times when he played too much and pushed himself too hard. You have always been someone who kind of doesn't play so many tournaments. People tend to overplay and burn themselves out. Why has that always been your philosophy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just literally couldn't try to do all the travelling. I was always doing something. I was either in school or working on some company. It was always something I was doing, so it didn't actually allow me to travel as much. I always feel when I play tournaments, I just try to do the best I can in them, and then maybe I would not have to play as many.

Q. You have had a lot of different hitting partners. At this tournament you practiced with a lot of top ATP players over the last couple of weeks, which seems not something I have seen you do as much in your career. What made this decision this was the best way for you to practice? What's it been like hitting with all these guys?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's been fun.

Q. I noticed you were still wearing the compression stockings. Are you still concerned about the issue you had with the thrombosis, or do they just feel comfortable to play in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely still concerned. I have had some issues, and they're not done. So it's just something I just have to do for pretty much probably the rest of my career, we'll see. But I'm always at the doctor. With DVTs, it's very scary. I know a lot of people have them – they're very common. A lot of people have them. Especially for me it's incredibly frightening. I lay on the side of precaution as opposed to not.

Q. Can you tell us how much different or more difficult is it to travel with a child who is now kind of running around and all the paraphernalia? And the other question is, if you don't mind, it might be a family secret, but can you tell me the origins of Qai Qai, where she came from, how she became the best friend? She's very popular.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely different to travel with a toddler as opposed to a baby, an infant. Infants I think are easier, and everyone said it's easier. I didn't quite understand. Olympia takes a lot more attention now, which is why I'm trying to get out of here (smiling). It's cool. It's really cool to be a mom and to be her mom, in particular. I feel really special. Qai Qai is a doll I got for her. I wanted her to have a black doll. Growing up, I didn't have that many opportunities to have black dolls. And I was just thinking, like, I want her first doll to be black. And her heritage, obviously she's mixed, she's Caucasian and black, but I feel like that was her first doll and I said her second doll would be Caucasian. I definitely want to always teach her love and teach her just basic human, what humans should always have love for each other, no matter what colour they are.

Q. How did you come up with the name, Qai Qai?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, my nephew did. We were all sitting in our living room, and we were running around names, and he said, Call her Qai Qai. He actually is the magic behind the name.

Q. I'm sure at this point you're used to that most times you step on the court you're going for history. Wondering, this time, does it feel different coming back as a mom, you had a break? Does it feel different going for that 24 record?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have been going for the record what seems like forever now, so it doesn't feel any different.

Q. I know you kind of parked what happened at the US Open, but have you discussed with Patrick kind of what he does in the box? Obviously there was the confusion at that tournament. And do you agree with him that on-court coaching should be allowed, that it would be better for the game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I, like, literally have no comment.

Q. You have kept a very low profile since coming over here. Why, before today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Spending a lot of time with my daughter. I think that's the priority for me. And I feel like literally every moment I get I practice, and then I go home. It's kind of what I do in Florida. I train and I go right home and I spend the rest of the day with my daughter. For now, as a working mom, I feel guilty. And I understand that that's normal, but – and these are years I'll never get back. I just try to spend every moment that I can when I'm not working with her. And for me that's super important.

Q. You are wearing a real interesting T-shirt, "Until We All Win." Could you put in words what that means to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just think it means – well, obviously it's something that I have been working on closely with Nike, and working on different ideas, until we can all win, not just have one person or one look or one style or one gender. It's just across the board until we all win.

Q. What is Maria like as a neighbour?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's really sweet. We literally are neighbours. She lives literally in the community next to me. I meant that literally. It's nice. You know, she's a really nice person. And her husband is really nice. Her family is sweet. It's just really, really cool people.

Q. Did she move in like after you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, we have been there just over forever, yeah.

Q. Do you know your next opponent? Can I ask about your next round?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If you want to.

Q. Genie. Wondering, how do you look at that match-up? Have you been following at all? She's had quite a few good results trying to come back.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it will be a great match. She plays really well. She does everything well, and I really like that she doesn't quit. You know, people write her off, and she doesn't let that bother her. She continues to fight and do what she needs to do. I think that's really not good.

Q. Last year you had your first tournament back at Indian Wells. You were being judged against where you were here in 2017. You said if you had to judge yourself from 0 to Serena, you were about at an S then. Where do you feel you are today and how different is starting this season as opposed to starting 2018?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm still confused on the year. So this is 2019 now. Gosh. Yeah, you know, I have just kind of let that all kind of go and I just go every day, and I don't want to give myself a ranking anymore. I think it gives me too much negative expectations. I always expect to reach the sky, and anything below it is not good enough for me. I don't know. I just know that I'm going in the right direction. I feel like I'm in the right direction. We'll see.

Q. Two years ago you were just pregnant, and now you're a mom. Compare and contrast the difference between then and now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not pregnant. That's the biggest difference. (Laughter.) No, I'm not pregnant.