Friday, August 9, 2019 – Serena Williams plays Naomi Osaka in quarter-finals of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank at the Aviva Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Peter Power/Tennis Canada)
S. WILLIAMS/M. Bouzkova
1-6, 6-3, 6-3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You said on court that mentally you had to make a change after that first set. She played really well in that first set. But what did you do mentally in sets two and three and how did that affect what you were doing with your tennis against her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just needed to be more consistent and not make so many errors and just mentally be ready to hit a thousand balls if I needed to.
In the first set, I was going for a little too much, so I just had to just play a different game.
Q. You said on court that you have wanted to face Bianca for quite some time now. I’m curious what similarities you see in her compared to when you were a teenager coming up through the tour, having a lot of success at that young age.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, when you’re that young, everything is so fun. I mean, everything is still fun. But everything is new and everything is a different challenge and there’s not a ton of pressure.
You know, so it’s just different, and that’s always just really always a plus.
Q. You talked a little bit on court about how the crowd is obviously going to be for Bianca tomorrow, but just talk about what you expect from that match. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch much of her this season, she hasn’t played a lot, but what you have seen from her, what you expect from her and the crowd tomorrow.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, she hasn’t played a lot, but she’s won a lot. So she’s done really well. Yeah, I haven’t either. But now we both are starting to get healthy and play a little bit more.
The crowd will obviously be for her. I definitely would too. But it’s really not about that. It’s just about going out there and playing your great tennis.
Luckily, I’ve had some tough crowds in my career, so hopefully I will be used to it.
Q. You’ve had a lot of matches against these counter-punching, backboard-type players, and the energy she was showing tonight was just being a defensive wall. With you being able to hit around her in the second and third set, if you could just talk about just overcoming a wall like her again and being able to just stay patient and stay calm and just play your game.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was really important for me was to just change it up and move it around and not be so predictable.
And it’s a good lesson for me in the future, as well, more than anything.
Q. I think less physically but more just schedule-wise it’s the first time for you since Rome 2016 that you’ve played five consecutive days. So obviously at the slams you played five consecutive rounds but not days. So how has the routine been and has that helped your tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I haven’t had this in a really long time. We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s definitely different for me. I knew coming into the tournament. When they told me Wednesday, I was like, Oh, my God. Are you sure?
Q. Do you feel more grooved in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely feel more grooved in, but at the same time I feel like — you know, I feel good still. I feel really good.
So I’ve been doing a lot of training and all the right things, so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.
Q. I’m wondering during the match were you able to mentally focus on each shot or did you find that at times your mind wandered off to other things?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, my mind wanders off a lot. At one point I was thinking about my bra. And I’m like, Oh, my God, Serena. Are you kidding me?
Yeah, I can’t do that. You know, one thing about being able to play more matches is learning how to re-get that focus back.
Q. It is pretty interesting to hear how some of the younger athletes are talking about their mental state of the game. Bianca said yesterday she was fearless, and Naomi was talking about why she has modeled her game after you and she found it also okay to lose because it was you. So for you over the years especially when you were young, how would you treat a defeat? Would you ever feel like it’s okay to lose to someone or has it always been the fierce competitor that we see every day?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know how to answer that, honestly, so I’m just not going to answer that.
Q. When did Bianca, I guess, first come on your radar and have you been surprised at all at the success she’s been able to have this year as a teenager?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Didn’t she play Venus once? Didn’t she beat Venus?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. So that was when she was on my radar.