S. Williams interview after the match against Kuznetsova

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Q. Should the roof have been closed a little earlier?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, it was definitely hot. Should it have been closed? I don’t know. I think I was just trying to prepare myself for it to be open the whole time.

Q. You spoiled the all‑Russian party.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You were expecting an all‑Russian final? Who was expecting that?

Q. Did the roof closing help you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I think it did because it was really hot out there. Uhm, again, I was just gonna try to go for a third set with the roof open.

But with the roof closed, as well, it was definitely helpful.

Q. How would you describe the heat?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, it was really an out‑of‑body experience. Like I felt I was watching someone play in a blue dress, and it wasn’t me, because it was so hot out there. And I kept trying to tell myself that it’s not hot, you know.

But it got hotter, so… Or is it “more hot”?

Q. How do you think you played? Were you happy with your game today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I finally started playing a little better in the second and the end of the second set. Uhm, I felt like I was really, really off before.

In the first set, I was missing a lot of balls. I started playing a little better.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration for your outfits?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I love design. I went to art school. I just was blessed to work with a great company, you know, obviously Nike that was able to, you know, have faith and put me in some interesting designs and some new designs.

I’ve always inspired a lot by pop culture, as well as couture, keeping those two fresh and making it wearable and sellable.

Q. Who designed your sister’s dress?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus definitely designed her dress. It’s called The Goddess Dress.

Q. It’s fair that maybe you’re not playing at the best of your game, I think.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

Q. How encouraging that you’re here in the semifinals?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s really encouraging because this whole tournament I felt I’ve been off and I haven’t been playing my best, especially to pull out that win today.

I was happy because I really wasn’t playing my best today. My balls started flying. You know, I was thinking, Wow, this is just not my best tennis, or even close to it.

Q. Can you remember a hotter day than today in your career?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I think my hottest match was against Mauresmo. I don’t know what year that was. But I think it was 42. It was miserable.

Q. Where was that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was here.

Q. How quickly did it cool down once the roof was closed?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt that it cooled down pretty fast once the roof was closed. Really fast.

Q. You’ve mentioned previously that Obama, the inauguration, really inspired you. Do you think it impacted your game today, like helping you out mentally?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I wish I could say that it did. I just think that the spirit is just being proud to have that moment and let that moment be a part of that.

Maybe it should affect me more. But that’s totally separate. Like I feel like that’s such an amazing moment for history, especially African Americans, it’s a great life‑altering moment.

Q. The weather is supposed to be hotter tomorrow. Would you like to see the organizers take their decision to close the roof before you went out there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ll be ready for whatever, whether it’s hot or cold. I actually like to play in the heat, so… I’ll try not to have any more out‑of‑body experiences.

Q. You have singles and doubles tomorrow. That should be tough to deal with.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ll be fine. I’m not tired at all right now. So I’m feeling good. I’ll be totally fine.

Q. Playing Elena next.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she’s playing amazing. I think she’s actually playing some of the best tennis on the tour. She’s really stepped up the level of her game to an unbelievable level. I’m going to have to play really well to do well tomorrow.

Q. What are you going to have to do differently against her? You’ve lost the last three times you played her.

SERENA WILLIAMS: A couple times I gave her the match. But the last time she played really well.

I’m just going to have to, you know, just play my game.

Q. If you win this tournament, you’re going to get back to No. 1. How important is it at this stage in your career to hold the top ranking? Or is it just about winning?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s definitely more about winning to me. I have a tough opponent next round, so that’s my next focus. But I’m all about winning Grand Slams. I’m not worried about being No. 1. I think it’s gonna come sooner or later.

Q. Elena said playing against you is a mental battle. Do you feel the same way?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don’t understand that statement.

Q. She said playing against you was a mental battle; that it wasn’t really about forehands or backhands. Do you feel like playing against you is a mental battle or something else?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe it is for her. You know, I think that’s maybe her thing. But, uhm, I don’t know. I never thought about that.

Q. Television commentators said you had your racquets restrung between the first and second sets.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was so hot that my racquets lost all tension. I had to string ’em way tighter than normal for my ball to stay in the court because they were pretty much hitting the people in the crowd. Definitely I was mortified at some of the shots I hit. My balls were just flying fine.

Q. How do you keep your mind away from the heat? Do you think of ice baths?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I just keep telling myself it’s not that hot, that my opponent is in the same condition I’m in, so…

Q. So your racquets were in trouble today; you were in trouble. If the roof didn’t close, do you think you would have lost the match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. Like I say, whenever I lose the first set, I’m automatically thinking third. So I think I would have been able to last. Who knows.

Q. Every year you’ve gone and won here, you’ve either come back from match points down or had an opponent serve for the match. That happened again today. Would you look at that as a good omen going into the next couple of rounds?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I hope so. I hope it’s a good omen. Hopefully I won’t have to be down anymore, to be honest.

Q. You were playing well outdoors on hardcourts last year. Why do you think you’re having a harder time getting your level up?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. Maybe I overtrained. I worked really hard. I was really ready. Nothing I did in practice is, you know ‑‑ nothing I did in practice I’ve been able to do on the court so far.

It’s been really kind of frustrating. I’m thinking I could have been at a pool instead of training (smiling). Hopefully it will pay off. I mean, if not here, I’m just hoping it will pay off at the next tournament.

Q. Doesn’t it surprise you that with like Victoria or Novak, that players of their caliber kind of wilted and had to retire in matches, that they would feel it that badly?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don’t know. I just think the weather’s been really hot here. I just think that everyone is different.

Q. Do you think it has something to do with how people train, whether they can handle the heat, or just an individual thing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it’s definitely an individual thing. And, you know, I think Victoria, she had the flu even, more or less, so I don’t think it was necessarily the heat with her. I didn’t see the other match, so I can’t really say.

Q. When your opponent is serving for the match, can you give us an idea what you’re thinking at that point? Do you think she’s going to be nervous? What are you feeling?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was thinking, Okay, if you lose, you’re going to fly coach all the way back to Florida (laughter), how uncomfortable that would be. That motivated me to do a little better.

Q. Do you fly coach?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. I mean, gosh, prices have soared nowadays. I told you, I’m really economic. I wouldn’t necessarily want to go back 16 hours. I wouldn’t allow myself to have the emergency row either. I would be so mad, I would have to sit like the last row, the tightest row. That way I wouldn’t do it again.

Q. Are you mentally strong because you’re fascinated by punk rock music?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. But it helps, I guess, me have a punk rock attitude. I don’t know.

012809 wednesday /info-photo via Australian Open / Getty Images

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