I Don’t Feel Any Pressure To Win All Four- Serena Willams
Q. As you know, this is the 40th anniversary of Arthur Ashe winning here. What are your thoughts when you think about Arthur and what he’s meant to you personally and to the whole world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, yeah, it’s amazing I think. You know, after 40 years, his legacy still lives on in one of the greatest ways. That was just an amazing match that he played. It was against Connors, I believe. You know, I think they showed it. I was at home I think watching TV. They had the match on. I was watching it. I was like, Wow, you know. It was just a really cool moment. It’s been a lot I think for just African Americans not just in tennis, but in all of sports in breaking barriers, Arthur Ashe and everything he did for tennis.
Q. What does it mean to you to have met him?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it was amazing. My only wish is that I met him when I was a little older. Even though I was super young, he was doing a clinic, and I remember being in that clinic and just thinking, Wow, I’m hitting with Arthur Ashe. This is so cool. He was so nice. He took his time with all the kids that were there. You know, he took a lot of time with me and with Venus. It was a great moment. It’s something that one never forgets. It just kind of always lives with you.
Q. How much time did you give yourself after Paris to just breathe and relax and let everything kind of sink in? When did you kind of get back onto the court and start preparing for this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I gave myself, like, you know, about a week just to, like, get myself back together, physically more than anything. Then, you know, I started slowly just getting back into it, getting back into it. Mentally I was always thinking about, Gosh, Wimbledon’s around the corner. I’m sitting here like, Wasn’t I just in France? It kind of comes fast.
Q. You haven’t been at Wimbledon before having won the first two majors of the year. There’s a lot of talk about the calendar slam. Is there any difference in your preparation? Does it make this Wimbledon feel any different?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Personally, uhm, it doesn’t make it feel any different, which I think is a good thing ’cause I don’t feel any pressure to win all four. I’ve been saying that, but I really don’t feel that pressure. Maybe if I would happen to win here, then maybe I might start feeling it after that.
Ultimately, I’m taking it one day at a time and I’m not thinking that far.
Q. Any motivation from what happened last year and the year before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the fact that I lost so early the past couple years definitely makes me motivated. But I think that also gives me a little less pressure because I haven’t done well here in the past two years. It makes me feel like, Okay, I’ll be fine. I have nothing to lose here. I don’t have many points to defend here. So it’s just like trying to have fun, go through it.
Q. The extra week between Paris and London, at any point did you consider playing? Did you hit at all on grass at home?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I hit on grass in Florida one day or some days. I thought you were going to say, Was I tempted to go on vacation? I was, but of course I didn’t. But was I tempted to play a tournament? Not yet. I do think the week is pretty awesome, because right now we would be entering the middle week of Wimbledon already. So I definitely think the week is really going to help a lot of players.
Q. Roger was in here earlier saying that he’s not surprised that you and Venus are playing so well at the moment. He said he can’t imagine seeing you on tour and not playing well. When you think about when you’re going to stop playing, do you think, I want to stop at my peak? How do you see it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t think about it. I just don’t think about that. I don’t think about when I stop, I’m going to stop at my peak. That’s something I definitely want to do, but I don’t sit down and think about when I’m going to stop. I think about practicing, technique, training. Whenever that day comes, hopefully I will be on top. I wouldn’t want it any other way, yeah.
Q. You said after the French Open that you’re not a fan of grass. Do you still agree with that now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, oddly enough, it never has been my favorite surface, but I’ve always done really well here. I think my game is really suited for the grass.
You know, yeah, it’s never been someplace like, I love playing on the grass, which is just really weird. But, again, my game works for it, so…
Q. What don’t you like about it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, even when I was younger, it’s always just been different. It’s always been a really difficult surface. And it’s hard because if you don’t play a warmup, it’s like the only tournament on grass, it’s kind of like you dive right in. I really think that extra week is going to help a lot. Actually, I had extra weeks plenty of times after the French Open, so I’ve had more time than normal. You know, it definitely enables me to, like, get more used to it, whereas before it wasn’t quite the same.
Q. When other people talk about why you are who you are, they usually start with the mental toughness. When you assess your success, how would you describe the role of mental toughness and the lack of doubt that seems to be in your game when you’re on the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I think for me being mentally tough is probably my biggest strength. And my dad always said growing up, you know, Tennis is so mental, you have to have your mental, you have to be really mentally tough. I guess I really took that to heart. I think also being the youngest of five really made me have to scrap and be tougher. I think all those things kind of played into action. Yeah, I think that’s probably one of the biggest things in tennis. It’s great to have a big serve, too. But I think ultimately sometimes when you’re down and out, you could be the best player in the world, you still get down, but you have to be able to come back.
Q. How do you avoid doubt?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I have ways of avoiding doubt. But, yeah… That’s my secret.
Q. Are you enjoying winning Grand Slams more now than when you were younger because you’re coming towards the end of the journey?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, two years ago I would say yes, I definitely enjoyed winning them more, like a year and a half ago, two years ago, than I did when I was younger. Now I think it’s even. When you’re young and you first win, it’s like, Great. You want to go to all these different countries, winning all these Grand Slams, it’s an amazing feeling. But now I still feel that way. I feel that I feel just as excited ‑ not more excited, but I feel just as excited.
Q. Why is that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think two years ago I was just recovering over something and I just was elated even to be playing. Now I’ve kind of evened out. Now I’m like, Okay, now I’m kind of back.
Q. What do you know about your first‑round opponent? I think she’s playing in her second Grand Slam tournament, to face Serena Williams in the first round. That’s a tough ask for her.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely is not easy. But it’s not easy for me either, when you go up against a player that you don’t really know. For me, when you play the No. 1 player, it’s like, This is great, I have an opportunity to do well. You have nothing to lose really. And again, for me, being that I haven’t done really well in the last few year, I feel like I have nothing to lose either. So it’s a good opportunity I think for the both of us.
Q. Jack Nicklaus has some very good grass courts. Have you ever hit at them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That’s where we’ve been training. Me and Venus were at Jack Nicklaus’ place. He’s so nice to let us use his courts. It was fun.
Q. That’s in Florida?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. Very good courts.
Q. When you look back at the last couple tournaments here, can you isolate what went wrong or do you put them behind you? I’m only wondering because is there kind of a sense of peace with those losses because you know what went wrong that day, or is there still a bit of a head scratching no idea?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I don’t think about it so much. Maybe I should. But I don’t like to dwell too much on losses. I just improve and I know what I can do better. I know I can play my best, what I can do different. So, yeah.
Q. After Wimbledon you immediately went to Sweden. Can you explain why you went to such a minor tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I went a couple years ago and I really had the time of my life. I really felt like I was on vacation. It was really nice. I had a great time. I’m really looking forward to going again. I’m excited about that.
Q. What inspired your Sound of Music choreography?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wait for it. That’s actually an older team. Didn’t look like it. But it was an older team that we choreographed a long time ago.
Q. Who is ‘we’?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have a dance team. Yes, a dance team.
Q. A competitive dance team?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, it is a competitive dance team.
Q. What sort of competitions do you do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, wait for it. It’s coming. It’s coming. No, we do competitions. Just local. Our dream is to perform on Ellen. Yes, that’s right.
Q. I think you could probably do that if you wanted to.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so, too (laughter).
Q. You had a bad flu at the French. Has it been more of a bad year in terms of illnesses for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it’s fine. Everyone catches a cold. Everyone gets the flu. It’s just all about timing. You get the flu, it’s like, Okay. During the French Open is not the best time to get it, but it happens. It happens in life. As humans, we get sick. We catch things. That’s normal.