"Just looking back at a few of my matches years ago and looking now, I definitely feel like I'm getting into that zone that I have always wanted to be in, and I feel a lot better about it.
"I have been playing a lot more tennis. I have been spending more time on the court.
"I felt this past year coming back I had nothing to lose and just really wanted to enjoy my career. In the past when I played I was always so stressed out and always wanted to win, win, win.
"And now I'm definitely having a lot more fun than what I used to have on the court and really enjoying every moment of me walking out there. So I think that definitely makes a big difference."
--Serena Williams, discussing her mindset at the beginning of the French Open.
The 31-year-old Williams held off the unseeded Kuznetsova, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, as the American overcame a 0-2 deficit in the final set.
Since last year's French Open which she did not win, Williams has lost only three of the 70 singles matches she has played, winning 10 tournaments, including Wimbledon and the Olympics.
The only surprise was the upset in the Australian Open quarter-finals, when she was beaten by fellow American Sloane Stephens, although an ankle injury was certainly a factor.
"Sometimes I think, 'Should I be happy that I lost last year?'.
"You never know what can happen in your career and why things happen.
"So it's been great for me just realizing that every match counts. I have always realized that, but also realizing what I need to do to get better and to stay on top and to be the best tennis player that I can be."
Roland Garros has not been a lucky venue for Williams, with her only title and only finals appearance coming 11 years ago, when she beat sister Venus.
"I just remember going into the final," she said. "I definitely didn't expect to win, so I think that made me really calm and really relaxed.
"I felt like, 'Okay, I'm not going to win this match, but I'm going to go out there and have fun'. Next thing I know I was winning.
"I won the first set, and I thought I could win it after that. So learning from that, I think I can learn about just how relaxed I was. I felt no pressure and no anything. I just felt really good."