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January 22, 2013

Li Na advances to Australian Open semifinals

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Stephens, looking toward her coach at one point, said the celebrations were disrespectful.
 
Later, she said she was just joking.
 
Regardless, it was a lesson. The friendly Serena from the locker room is the ultimate competitor — she's on a 20-match winning roll and has lost only once since her first-round exit at the French Open.
 
"Obviously every match is a learning experience," Stephens said. "But, I mean, you've just got to go and treat it like another match."
 
Well, not exactly a normal match, she said, but certainly no different from playing any of the other top three players.
 
"It just happens to be Serena. She's obviously one of the greatest players to ever play the game," Stephens said. "Without the titles, with the titles, it's still a tennis match. The court's the same size. You're still playing a regular person across the net."
 
Stephens and Williams ran across each other in the locker room Sunday.
 
"She told me I was too quiet on the court," Stephens said. "Then today I was thinking to myself, 'I'm really loud. Should I tone it down a little bit?'"
 
Williams thinks she's more like an elder stateswoman for the younger U.S. players than mentor for the likes of Stephens.
 
"I just feel like being the older one ... maybe some of the younger players look up to me," she said. "It's hard to be a real mentor when you're still in competition."
 
And as the elder stateswoman, Williams said, "I feel no responsibility" when it comes to playing Stephens.
 
"I doubt she has any expectations of me to be responsible for anything," she said. "I'm here to compete and do the best I can, as well as she is. And she's been doing really amazing. I'm really happy. I have a tough match, so we'll see."
 

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