Serena Williams gives her post match press confernence after beating Mandy Minella 6‑1, 6‑3.
Q. When you started out there on Centre Court, there were quite a number of empty seats around the Royal Box. How do you feel about that? You're the defending champion, some people not taking their seats, does that bother you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't notice. I was out there to play tennis, to get to the next round. So I did not notice.
Q. Obviously women's tennis is a very popular sport, there's a lot of money in it, much more so than women's soccer or even golf. Why do you think that is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think women's tennis has been the pioneer for women's sports. And I believe one of the reasons is because of wonderful pioneers such as Billie Jean King, her sitting down 40 years ago and saying, Look, especially to the US Open, we're not going to accept anything less than equal prize money here, what the men get.
Eventually starting their own tour, going from there. It just takes great leaders to have such a wonderful sport. We're so fortunate in women's tennis to have great leaders such as her.
Q. What was your reaction to the news that Nadal lost yesterday?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm a huge Nadal fan, as we all know. I'm probably his biggest fan. But I obviously was really sad. But in a way I was happy, too, because I felt like he'll have time to rest up and get ready for the hard court season.
Q. How surprising was it to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, it's tough out there. I played a lot of matches on clay this year, more than I've played I think ever. And I had a little tough time adjusting today. So for him must have been a lot more difficult because he didn't play any hard court, he only played clay court. Maybe it was difficult for him to adjust.
But it's not the end of the world and he'll come back.
Q. What's the big switch clay to grass? The bounce? What do you have to adapt to quickly?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You have to definitely adapt to the bounce. You have to adapt to the games going really fast, the match moving really fast, points are fast. Also they're really low. You have to really bend your knees, get low, stay low, be really dedicated to that.
Q. Please don't think I'm contesting women's rights to equal pay, but do you think there would be more justification for it if you did equal work for equal pay, in other words, play best‑of‑five?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think one of the things about that argument, the reason I think it's null, is because we have said we're willing and ready. I think every female athlete is ready to play five sets. Actually, the tournaments have said, No, we like you guys playing three sets.
I don't think it's a fair argument at all.
Q. Given Madison Keys' victory today, what are your thoughts about the state of the American women's game coming up behind you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's great. I think for the past 12 months we've seen a lot of growth in American tennis. A couple years ago, when I was asked that question, I wasn't sure of the answer. But now I can answer that in so many different ways. There's so many great young American players. I know at the French Open we had the most people in the draw than any other country, in the main draw. So that's really a huge step.
So I think American tennis is doing fine and will continue to hopefully be on top.
Q. A lot of people say obviously you're the player to beat, that they don't see who is out there that can beat you. How do you feel?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel that I'm always ready. You know, I never feel invincible. I always feel that I have to be ready for each opponent in each game, and I never become overconfident. I think when I do or if I do, that's the moment that I'm most vulnerable.
Q. Talking about changes of surface, could you give us some update or reminder about your schedule after Wimbledon before the US Open, how that tests you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm actually going to go to Sweden after Wimbledon, which I'm excited about. I've never been to Bastad. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting back on the clay. I can't wait. Well, I can wait. Let's make that clear. Then I'm going to hit the hard courts in the United States.
Q. What's so attractive about Bastad?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been, to be honest. I've heard it's a great city. I've never heard a bad thing about it. I've heard that it's like Cannes, but in Sweden. I definitely need to experience that.
Q. Over your career you've said lots of wild and crazy things. I was stunned the other day to see in the transcript where you said you were basically treated by the tennis journalists fairly, that you were spoiled by the treatment, that it was professional treatment. Were you smoking something? What is your thought on the job that we do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't smoke.
No, you guys are really always respectful. For the most part I've always had mostly great experiences. You're here to do your job. You report on what's being said, not anything in a sneaky way.
Yeah, like I said, I've been spoiled. I'm sober right now, so...
Q. Do you think the media seriously plays an important role in getting the story out to fans and non‑fans?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I do. That's one of the reasons why women's tennis is one of the pioneers for all women's sports is the media giving it great support, great feedback, and great articles. Not only that, you have great tournaments like Wimbledon, people who have never played tennis, they know Wimbledon, they tend to watch these events like Wimbledon, they tend to watch the US Open because they're such huge events. I think having those big staples in tennis makes it exciting.
Q. Over the last few days, there have been a few stories about how you and Maria Sharapova have had a few words exchanged. Has that been a distraction? Do you have any further remarks to make now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Really? No, it hasn't been a distraction. Like I said, I'm just here to focus on the tennis. I didn't even notice when you asked me earlier about the box, that's how focused I am. I'm just here to play Wimbledon. It's the premiere tournament in the world, of the year, so that's what's most important.
Q. How did it feel after all this talk, all the questions from Sunday, how did it feel to finally get started playing tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It felt good. I love playing here. Being defending champion is always a special moment for 12 months that you're going to play at 1:00 on Tuesday. It definitely felt good to step out there and be on the court and hit some balls around.
Q. Have you and Maria spoken since your last press conference? Are you friends again now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, we're playing on opposite days, so we don't really see each other.
Q. How did you assess today's match? Can you learn anything from it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today. I don't feel like I played my best. I felt really upset when I lost my serve in the second set.
With that being said, I think Mandy played really well. I thought she was really mixing up her shots, mixing up her game. It wasn't an easy match for me. I'm a little excited I was able to play a tough match and to get through it.
Q. Do you come out of today's match thinking all about ways you want to improve, something you want to work on as the tournament moves along?
SERENA WILLIAMS: After today, there's so many ways that I can improve and that I'm going to need to improve if I want to be in the second week of this tournament.
Q. Can you give any examples?
SERENA WILLIAMS: C'mon (smiling).
Q. We have queuing up all night hoping to get in for a ticket. Would you like to see the corporate ticketholders get in there and see the tennis or give the ticket to someone who wants to be in there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, let's see. When I go to a sporting event, I guess I'm at the event. I don't walk around so much.
But I think people have to do what makes them happy. Like if I'm at an amusement park, I don't really get on the rides. I'm always eating (laughter). So, I don't know if I should give my ticket to someone else or...
Maybe there's really good food here. But I think, you know, when a match starts, usually it takes a little while for the crowd to roll in.
I don't know. I don't really know. Whatever people want to do is fine with me.
Q. You've talked about how you really miss your sister this year. Has Wimbledon not been quite the same because of her absence?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely not the same. However, I'm going to have to make the best of it and I'm ready and I'm able to make the best of it.
Q. With Nelson Mandela in critical condition now, what are your reflections on what his life means to you and to the world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a really sad time I think for everyone on the globe. I feel like Nelson Mandela, first of all, he's lived a really amazing life. It's not over yet. But, uhm, he's just been so pivotal I think for so many people. It's really emotional to talk about.
You know, meeting him was probably one of the best moments of my life, and it will be a great loss.
Q. Why was it one of the best moments of your life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, well, just meeting him, speaking to him. He's so coherent, he's so smart, he's so amazing. Obviously I'm hoping he'll recover.
But reading books about him, seeing things, seeing what he went through ‑‑ you know, I started to read his autobiography after I left South Africa last year. It's just amazing.
Where he started as a kid, then going from there, making his way really to the top of something completely inconceivable. Having so many people love him and cherish him for who he was, for being black, for being in South Africa at a time where maybe it wasn't the best moment to be black in South Africa.
He's had a great story. I think everyone of all races and nations and countries and individuals can learn from his stellar, like, life.
Q. Back to tennis. After play yesterday, people were talking about slow courts, also a lot of players getting injuries. Azarenka slipped. How did the court feel for you today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It felt fine. Again, I didn't notice. I'm not big on noticing things like courts slow or fast, not yet. Maybe in the future I will.
Q. Your game is renowned for its power. Today your opponent won a number of her points with mixing it with slice and some dropshots. If you're still seeking to improve your own game, do you contemplate embracing that kind of variation or do you think that would diminish your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think if you only have power and you only hit hard balls, you're definitely not going to last in tennis for very long. I don't only play hard tennis. Maybe if you want to get out there I can show you like how I mix things up. I hit a lob today. I'm hitting slices and dropshots, especially more recently in my game.
I think power's often extremely good to have in your game. But if I were to sit here and hit every ball hard, my arm would fall off. So impossible.
Q. You mentioned how amazing it was to meet President Mandela, to read about him. Obviously the man was in jail for 27 years, came back and had this force of reconciliation and forgiveness. Have you reflected on that? Is that an important part of our lives?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think his whole example is an extremely important part of our lives. For someone to have been, you know, incarcerated for so long and then have such a forgiving heart, to have such an open heart, open spirit, open soul is unheard of. It's rare.
I think we, as a people, all can learn from the courage, the faith, and everything that Nelson Mandela has.