(January 20, 2015) A few of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 2 news conferences at the Australian Open.
You’ve been well-known to have a lot of off-court activities in your career. Do you think all of that has helped you with your success in tennis or is that a whole other part of your life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s definitely a different part of my life. I’ve always been different and I’ve always liked to plan for my future. I’ve always enjoyed different things. Even when I was younger, I just did so many different things. Inevitably it helps me appreciate what I love to do most, which is play tennis.
Your outfit today was pretty awesome.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Thank you.
Did you want to do something more adventurous compared to when you were a teenager? Sort of a bold look?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ve been more focused on different parts of the body. Throughout the years we went for a more conservative look. This year we really wanted to bring out a powerful woman and a strong woman, like I said. You can be beautiful and powerful at the same time. So what we at Nike wanted to do was to focus on beautiful back. So kind of a lot of my outfits this year are really based on the beauty of and the shape of the back, which a lot of people don’t think about. But it’s so beautiful and powerful on ladies, so we just wanted to focus on that.
Do you feel different when you wear something on court more revealing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely feel really different. First of all, I feel like I don’t want to eat too much (smiling). One peanut and I’m going to break the dress, so I try not to eat that much. Other than that, yeah, it depends. Sometimes I’m a little nervous. Yeah, but this one I think is really good. It’s really trendy and young, but at the same time it also has a great message and it’s also really nice. It goes really well. So, yeah.
Q. After having ordered the coffee, what are you allowed to order on court and what would you like to order beyond espresso?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Depends. If I’m down, I might want to call my buddy Jack. Maybe that wouldn’t be good (smiling). Yeah, no, I don’t know what’s allowed. A hamburger, French fries.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I love eating pizza. I can’t have it this fortnight. I don’t want to break my dress (smiling).
Q. Do they ever instruct the players that these are the things you can do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That’s why I asked. I want to be completely honest. Is it okay? I have no idea. I think that might be a new rule in the rule book. We’ll see.
|Q. Did you watch any of the Kyrgios or Kokkinakis match yesterday?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s great opening matches that they both had, five-setters. The crowd. Could not ask for anything better. I was saying before that they both are very talented. Obviously they have a lot of reasons why they want to perform their best in Australian Open, their home soil. They have a huge support. They have a huge motivation to play their best. I congratulate them both. It’s not easy as an 18-year-old to overcome the challenges and pressure and expectations. Especially Kyrgios, with the amount of attention he got this week, prior to the beginning of the Australian Open. To be able to face that and win the way they both did, it shows the character. So I wish them both well in the rest of the tournament.
Q. What do you think of their flair on court?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, that’s what you need to have as a youngster, as a challenger, to all the players basically in the professional world coming up. It seems like, you know, sometimes you’re playing tennis without pressure or without really caring too much for what other people say or who is across the net. That’s what I felt like at that stage of my career. But, you know, there comes a time obviously when people start talking about you more, as they start talking about them. Obviously playing in Australia for them represents something more than playing anywhere else. Nick had a lot of attention in the media. Australia wants to have another big star, top player. I thought Kokkinakis did very well psychologically to win yesterday’s match, facing some match points and so forth. They both have the potential, no doubt about that. It’s still long road ahead of them. I’m sure they’re aware of it.
Q. Becoming a parent is a happy time for anybody. Can you share with us your best daddy story you can come up with?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I can say definitely that it’s the best, most joyful thing that ever has happened to me and my wife. We are so blessed and grateful to have a child. He’s a little angel. They’re not here with me, so I’m trying to stay in touch with them. The technology nowadays helps me to stay connected and see them and watch them on a daily basis. I can’t wait to be with them. Everything that you do as a father is very special. Everything that you see, all the facial expressions, changes on a weekly basis, daily basis, as a matter of fact, is quite remarkable. It’s inexplicable for somebody that hasn’t experienced it before. That is what people were telling me before I became a father. They said, When it happens, you will understand the feeling. I do now. I’m completely fulfilled in every aspect of my life. That gives a whole ‘nother meaning and purpose to my tennis as well. I’m trying to draw that energy and motivation and love that I have for my family and for my boy into the tennis court as well.
Q. How would you rate your eye-hand coordination when it comes to diaper changing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: My wife says I’m pretty good. I can’t say more than that.
Q. It was several years ago here you played Roger, you were a young guy. You expressed an opinion you had a good chance to win. What do you think about that younger Novak Djokovic?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, I understand young players like Kyrgios and Kokkinakis that we’re talking about here, they have this I think necessary flair and energy that I think is directed in a positive way for them to get the crowd on their side, to get themselves rid of any kind of over-respect for the opponent and just be able to perform the best tennis, and then eventually get a big win, as they did, as Kokkinakis did against Gulbis, that is a top 15 player. So it’s a big part of the game and just an approach of a youngster, having that positive drive on the court. This is an ideal place for them to draw that energy and to explore that flair on the court.
Q. Serena got a lot of attention for ordering coffee on the court. What can you order on the court? Take-out Chinese? Could you order a beer?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wasn’t thinking about that, honestly about the Chinese and a beer and the coffee, because I’m not a fan of those three things. But I guess, judging by what she did, it opens up a new chapter of rules I guess on the tennis court. Maybe we need to explore more and see what you’re able and what you’re not able to order. Maybe you can order some delivery service, as you mentioned. I don’t know. Something that comes to your mind. But it’s understandable. Some people can’t live without coffee in the morning. It keeps them going. I guess that helped her in that match. It wouldn’t help me because I’m not a fan of coffee.
Q. You would order something gluten free?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Gluten free coffee maybe (smiling).
Q. Nadal say he doesn’t feel ready to win. Do you think he’s trying to reduce the pressure on him by saying so?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t know what his intentions are, how he feels. But he is definitely always one of the top favorites in every tournament that he plays. There is no question about it. We always talk prior to the big tournaments, during the first days of the Grand Slams, about who the potential players are for winning the trophy. You know, more or less the same names have been going around for the last seven or eight years. So I don’t think there is any difference in terms of main favorites for this tournament even this year in the Australian Open. There are a few other players that are able to challenge the best.
Q. Busy with EleVen stuff?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was busy with EleVen and V Starr and I was in school, so it was a lot, yeah. I’m glad that’s over.
Q. Is that something that has sort of continued to drive you, your off-court interests? Does that help you in your tennis to have those other things in your life?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Does it help me with my tennis? I don’t know. I think it maybe makes me more appreciative of tennis because I’ve had to start at the bottom with both of those. Obviously people know your name, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a given. You have to work hard. So I work really hard at both of those businesses. I’m in school because I guess I’m a geek. And other than that, yeah, I love tennis, so it’s always number one.
Q. You said a while ago that accounting kind of drove you crazy. What was so hard about accounting?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It’s hard because when you go to school on distance education, you have a ton of tools, but you have to be very disciplined and you have a ton more work. I literally mean an actual ton. It’s very challenging. I don’t like bad grades, so I have to have really good grades. So I put a lot of pressure on myself. It is so much work. It’s a lot of work. So I’m through accounting now, so I feel anything else is going to be a breeze.
Q. How are you at school? Is it tougher than tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love the information. I don’t like to do the work, so… I don’t know. I guess that’s the same thing. Yes, I like matches. Does anyone love practice? Probably not. So it’s probably the same concept.
Q. It’s been well-documented you’ve had a few health issues the last couple of years. You seem to have got back into the higher echelons of the game a bit under the radar. Are you feeling very healthy, very good in yourself right now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I got issues, but so do a lot of people. Everyone has different kind of issues. I deal with my own the best way that I can. I’m creeping closer. I did enter the top 20. But I had some issues. Now I’m back again. I’d like to think that moving forward I have a lot of good days ahead of me in terms of health. I think also learning to manage things, because it’s a mental challenge when you don’t feel well and I think I’m learning to manage that a lot better.
Q. Li Na announced her pregnancy. I’m wondering if motherhood is something that you ever think of?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that’s so sweet. I didn’t know that. Maybe there will be twins and a doubles team. I hope I’m still not playing when they’re out (laughter). In any case, I don’t know, I’m still a big kid. I’m still growing up. She’s definitely made the right decision, I think, starting a family. I hope that one day I can get to that level. We’ll see. It’s a big job. It’s like the biggest job in the world. As much responsibility as I’ve taken on in my life, that still seems daunting.
Q. 19 Australian Opens now. It’s unprecedented. Are you still having fun? Is it still the same?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the motivation, the buzz is still there, absolutely. You know, I love walking through the corridors, the practice sessions on Rod Laver Arena, the week leading up to the slam. The start of the Australian Open, there’s always a real buzz around anyway. But this is one of the things I really miss when I do eventually retire.
Q. This isn’t a farewell tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I get asked that every day, so…
Q. Is it weird being here and not being seeded? I think it’s the first time since ’07 or something like that.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it would be weird if I was playing the whole last year and I wasn’t seeded this year. But since I missed so much, I think it’s kind of what it is. As I said, you just accept that and you just try to do the best as possible. So, you know, if you play against seed or unseeded player, it’s going to be tough. The depth in women’s game I think is really strong right now. You could see from the results from yesterday that it doesn’t really matter. You got to be ready 100% every day no matter who you’re facing.
Q. Li Na just said you will definitely win a Master in your career. How encouraging is that to hear from her?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, that’s a good thing to hear from her. It was very sad to see she’s retiring, because I was — she was big, big leadership for especially Asian tennis. I think I’m getting close to — not really — but getting close to her. Hopefully I can win a Masters. For sure that’s going to be my next goal. Hopefully I can come back Grand Slam final again.
Q. How long had you been thinking about starting a family with Dennis? In interviews you often talked about wanting to be a housewife. That was on your mind for how long before retirement?
LI NA: I think for my dream is be a housewife. I think every child they learn from the family. I was learn from my mom, so I was feeling the woman has to be like housewife. But I guess I’m not bad to play tennis. So I was feeling, okay, because tennis was take care a lot. I think now is the time to turn back. Yeah.
Q. How are you feeling? Do you have any morning sickness or any food cravings?
LI NA: Yes, I do. Until now I still have morning sick. Yeah.
Q. Any particular cravings or things you don’t want to eat anymore?
LI NA: No, no. I think I was pretty fine. I was ask my mom what I should care about. She was like, Do whatever you want to do. Don’t care about. She’s strong. So I was, Okay, okay.
Q. She’s a she?
LI NA: She or him. I prefer she. (Laughter.)
Q. Are you going to teach your kids tennis?
LI NA: I will see if they are interested about tennis or not. Yeah, yeah.
Q. If you could have changed one thing in your career, what would that have been?
LI NA: I think I’m perfect for the life. I wouldn’t change anything.
Q. Have you heard from any other tennis moms, someone who has reached out to you to congratulate you or give you advice?
LI NA: I got a lot message yesterday, yeah. I got a lot of congrats. So thanks for them.
Q. Why did you decide to make the announcement on Rod Laver Arena?
LI NA: I think we decide end of November. Yeah, because I know this is — Melbourne for me is very special area. So I know after that this is big moment for me. So I want to speak to all my fans, my friend. Yeah.
Q. Of all the qualities in you that helped you reach and achieve everything you did, what do you want your child to take from you?
LI NA: I try don’t to tell them I was the tennis player, you know. It’s pretty simple. Just like I wish them happy and healthy. That’s it. Yeah.
Q. What’s it like to be retired? You once said that you had sort of a lot of beasts within you that you got out on the tennis court and you felt all this pressure to win. What has it been like to leave tennis behind? Are you a different person now?
LI NA: I’m still the same. (Smiling.) Only not with tennis racquet anymore. It’s for me I decide because I cannot play anymore. I still love tennis, so that’s why I always doing the job. Yeah, of course right now I don’t have to worry about win or lose every day. Yeah, it’s less pressure. Yeah.
Q. If you could choose, would you still choose tennis as your career?
LI NA: If I have next life, I will still choose tennis, I will still choose the famous Asian as well.
Q. Why will you not immediately tell your child that you were a tennis player?
LI NA: I think tennis is my job, it’s not their job, you know. I think everyone has personality. Yeah.
Q. You have been the top Asian player for a long time, and in the men’s side, Kei Nishikori got very close to win Grand Slam last year. After you announced your retirement, he said he got a lot of motivation or confidence from you. So you give him any advices like Asian player, what kind of advice would you give him?
LI NA: I saw him play final on TV, of course. I think he’s amazing player. It’s not easy to be in the top. I know how hard working he has. So I will believe he can win Grand Slam. Seriously. Yeah.
Q. Will Dennis be changing diapers with you?
LI NA: No, no. The guys, it’s strange, I know how is another guy, but he never change, you know. Yeah.
Q. Just your thoughts on the players from China in the draw at the moment. Obviously a few defeats today. What are your thoughts?
LI NA: I even didn’t saw the match. Sorry about that, because I was like make me super busy. Yeah.
Q. Do you have a special place for your trophy at home?
STAN WAWRINKA: I already said it’s in a safe. It’s not at home yet.
Q. So you can’t watch it?
STAN WAWRINKA: No, I’m traveling all the year, so I don’t have time for that. (Smiling.)
Q. I have a question about your favorite football team. Where do you stand on Liverpool letting Stevie Gerrard go?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I’m obviously sad. I think Stevie has done so much for the team over the years. He’s a legend. I think if that’s what he thinks is the right time, I have to support that.
Q. But you want him to stay?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah. But at the same time he had a talk with the manager and said that maybe he wasn’t going to be playing as much. Yeah, I’m a little sad. I don’t know. I’m going to have my Stevie G jerseys hanging somewhere. Unfortunately he won’t be playing there anymore. I’ll have to make a trip probably to L.A. to have a look again. But, yeah, 17 seasons, 17 years, it’s a long time.