Serena Williams 2R interview

Interviews

Q. You're always confident of winning at any tournament you go into. How does your feeling compare with previous visits here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's not necessarily true. I'm not always confident. I just do the work. I go out there and I play the best I can. I work hard and see what happens. That's it.

Today is the same. I feel like I've done a lot of the work. We'll see what happens.

Q. You've spent less than two hours on court in these first two matches. How key is getting through a match quickly, saving your body, considering it's the first slam of the year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think it's key. I think what the key is just going out there and playing really well, just doing the best that you can do.

Q. You're obviously in great shape. Could you talk a little bit about your focus. Your life is so much more demanding now than 10, 15 years ago. You have a child, thriving business. Are there exercises, things you do to stay focused, breathing stuff? How do you focus?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, it's way more demanding. Even today I was replying to emails about our next collection with my brand, where we want to see it. So it's different.

Then I'm thinking, I play a night match, so then I want to spend time with my daughter, so I won't see her this evening for dinner. We do have dinner every night.

It's totally different. But I'm not doing anything special. I'm just doing what I feel like working parents do. They make it work. I'm just like literally everyone else. I'm making it work. It's not easy. But I have to do, as a mom and wife, what I have to do.

Q. Speaking of your brand, you're in charge of your brand, your tennis team. How would you describe yourself as a boss?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm very hands on. It's the same with my tennis game. I feel like my business with my brand, what I do on the tennis court, is exactly the same. I'm incredibly hands on. I'm really involved. I'm really opinionated but open to suggestions. I always want to hear what other people have to say because I don't want to be that kind of boss or person or CEO that have really myopic views. I think it's important to understand and see what everybody else thinks, then take a decision from that.

Q. I don't know if you had a chance to see any of the online response to your newest competition outfit. There were a lot of comparisons to the cheerleading uniforms for the West Compton Closers from Bring It on because of the ribbing and the green. I was wondering if that was an inspiration at all for the design?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wish I could say it was, but it wasn't. We design these so far out in advance. I can't take credit for this design. I didn't actually design this one by Nike. Their designers did. But, yeah, I don't think so.

Q. Do you wonder why you're the type of personality who feels that you can do it all? Not everyone feels they can. Why is that so important to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely innate. I think growing up, I always played tennis, but at the same time I wasn't allowed to play tennis if I didn't get straight As. It was like, Okay, I have to make sure I am studying, then I get to play tennis. I was already doing two things.

At some point I decided to go to college, win US Opens. I'm like, Okay, I'm going to college, but I'm still winning Open titles, Wimbledons. Again, I was doing more than one thing.

It was always something. Then now it's just continuing. I'm kind of glad I had practice at it. I need to be busy because, like, I have so much energy. I always thought the older I get, the more calm I'll get. I feel like it's kind of going opposite. I keep getting more energy. It's crazy.

Q. When you come to a slam, is something other than winning the title acceptable or is that hard to take?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I do my best (smiling). I don't obviously win them all or I'd have, like, 80 Grand Slams. But I do my best to win the ones I can. Obviously if I don't win, I go home. I go back to the drawing board. I see what I can do better. I come back. That's all I can do.

Q. What do you know about your next opponent Yamstreska? What in general runs through your mind thinking about the idea of facing somebody who is that much younger than you, who was born after you won your first Grand Slam title?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think, God, Serena, are you still out here on the tour, seriously?

It's Patrick's job to tell me more about her. I'm going to just go out there and obviously take her extremely serious. She's here, made it this far, and she's here to win.

Q. Patrick's new video game, have you had a chance to play it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I played it, of course.

Q. What did you think of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I talked about it. You're on social a lot, yeah?

Q. Yes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.

Q. Has motherhood made it easier for you to delegate in other areas of your life, like your business? Is it harder to cede control?
SERENA WILLIAMS: So I took a lot of time off to put my hands on my business and create the best brand, try to find the best people to run the brand. I did it all just from home. I'm working from home, from my computer, literally all day, so I can be at home with my daughter.

Now literally, just three weeks, I was able to delegate that to someone else. It's really made my life a lot easier.

Q. Each year the Australian Open happens as the Hollywood awards season comes into play. You commented about some of the movies, the role of African Americans in the community there. There are films such as Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Beale Street and Green Book. Talk a little bit about the movie situation this year, your thoughts on some of those?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To be honest, I don't think I should talk about it because I have not been following it. I've obviously seen those movies you mentioned, but I have not been following award season.

Q. One of the things that's been dominating conversation this week is the new Gillette commercial about toxic masculinity.
SERENA WILLIAMS: About what?

Q. Toxic masculinity, combating it. I know you've been vocal about promoting gender equality for girls. What I've noticed from black women is the way they admire the partnership you have with your husband, how much he clearly admires you. There's that quote from you about finding someone who doesn't dim your light. Talk a little bit about what you think the role of men is in terms of stamping out toxic masculinity or promoting gender equality? What is the role for them to play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: So I have not seen the commercial. Again, I don't want to talk out of place.

But I do think it's important for men and women to stand up together. I think it's important for us both to work together, and women not work against men, and them not work against women. They should all be together.

If we can have help from men saying, Oh, women deserve equal play, women deserve equal C suite jobs, to be on board seats, this is very important if men are advocating it as well as women. That's the only way to make that change. That's something I've been really trying to advocate myself on different boards that I've been on.