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January 24, 2015

Venus Williams


4-6, 7-6, 6-1
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you see the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, she played amazing. Thought she played awesome and just so aggressive. Everything was working for her. I've never played her before, so it's challenging to get a rhythm against her. It's challenging to know what the exact plays are. As the match went on I think I was able to get a little bit more settled and figure that out a little bit. But she played great. Just kind of kept trying to get games on my board so hopefully I would get an opening at some point.

Q. You were down a break in the second set and triple break point on the 4-2. She served for it later. Was the tournament flashing before your eyes? How did you keep your focus?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In those moments you're just so in the moment that you don't -- you know the score, but it's almost like you don't as well. So when that was happening, my whole focus was, Okay, let me try to hold serve instead of, Oh, shoot, this is almost over. I felt like in the first set I had some chances on the 5-4 return game. In the second set I just felt like if I play one or two points better then I'm in there.

Q. How much does this run mean to you? First time making it to the second week of slam since you revealed the diagnosis. What does it mean? Is it a breakthrough?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, I always believe in my ability, but sometimes, you know, you don't get results for whichever reason. Could be many. I think as long as I know that I've got it in me, that's it. Like I said, I've won big. It's not like I haven't done it before. I said this the other day: For me, I like to win titles. I like to win titles, whether it's a smaller event or a big event. That's what I play for. So, yes, great, it's great to be in the second week. But is fourth round my goal when I come to these tournaments? No.

Q. Do you feel like it's been a long climb back to this level?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely years go by fast. It's definitely been a lot of work and a lot of learning and a lot of perseverance. It will continue to be that for me. Just have to come to terms with it.

Q. For one set and a half when you were exchanging rallies with the forehands she was making many more points, then something changed. I would like to know if you changed strategy, tactic or if she made more mistakes? What happened? Suddenly you started playing many more backhands and different playing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Laughter.) I think I just tried to make more shots. I think, yeah, definitely changed strategy because if one strategy is not working, then you have to change it. That's the thing about being a tennis player. You have to have more than one strategy. So I did switch things up. I don't like to get into what strategies I use. I like to keep them for me in case I have to use them again. Yeah, I did change my strategy and I think that helped a lot.

Q. Is age an irrelevance? Because you and your sister both played opponents considerably younger than you two. You both lost the first set and came through in the third. When you're talking, do you ever talk about the youngsters coming through?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we talk maybe more about all the players we see that aren't playing anymore. We just can't figure out how we're still here. That's probably more on our mind. When you walk on that court, there is no such thing as age, height, any of that stuff. It's really an even playing field. It's a matter of can you get the ball in? Can you win the point or not. It doesn't matter any of these variables. That's what they are: Variables. I don't think that enters our mind out there.

Q. You've been a role model, fought for equal rights. There was a situation with Shahar Peer. Of course, on court you've won so many slams and Olympics. In your own mind, aside from being a great sister and a family person, what really has given you the most satisfaction out of your career? Is there one or two things? Can you just talk about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's not something I reflect on every day. Obviously being a part of the movement for equal prize money was -- it wasn't anything I planned for. It's just something you find yourself involved in. I think that's what Billie Jean says well, that all the things she did, numerous things for women's tour, women's rights, Women's Sports Foundation, Title IX. All those things she didn't wake up and say, That's my plan. You just see something, and if there is an inequality, you stand up for it. There are a lot of things I didn't plan on that have been amazing moments as well.

Q. Between you and Serena, when I see you both playing, you move much better, in my opinion. You are able to recover some balls that Serena cannot. But she's playing more aggressive and she likes to drive the situation. Do you agree with that? Or just my perception and maybe I'm drunk?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. When I play her, she gets every ball back. Honestly, I felt like I could move a little bit better. I think we're -- we both move well. I think that's -- anyone who moves well, yeah, you're going to be able to play some pretty good tennis. At the end of day, I think we're both pretty aggressive. I don't think you see either of us just sit back and hope someone misses. We want to control the point.

Q. On Camila Giorgi, do you think she has a potential to become a top-10 player? She beat Sharapova. Do you think she has a potential or she's very immature?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she has a potential, for sure. She has a big game. She has motivation. Looks like she's working hard. She's moving up the rankings. I think the more she plays, she's going to learn. It's about dealing with the pressure. I think that's one of the hardest things to learned to do, is just deal with the pressure. Every point of the match, every day that you're playing, it's not easy for any player.

Q. (No microphone.)
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, when you hit two first serves you might have more double faults than the next player. She doesn't hit a second serve. I'm not sure what she does in the other matches, but today she didn't hit a second serve. So, yeah, you're going to get some risks, but you're going to get a lot of good points off two first serves, too.

Q. When you and Serena talk about players who aren't here, particular names that stand out that are missing in the crowd?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think everybody we grew up with has moved on, in a mature life.

Q. There are players younger than both of you who have been retired for years now, too.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, but I think our perspective is we're still quite good at what we do. While we're here, we're going to be here. While we're gone, we might watch on TV.

Q. Thoughts on Radwanska next. She's beaten you the last two times you played. Both times you physically weren't where you wanted to be. Thoughts on having a day off and then getting to play her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely a day off will help. I always have chances against her. I always have the opportunity to dictate the point, which is what I like to do. I think I just have to get out there and make my shots. That's going to be pretty important in this next match. It's very much a different style than what I played today. I have to be ready for all styles.

Q. Do you think it's going to make a difference in her game, the influence of being coached by Navratilova now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I haven't really seen her play, so I don't know if her game has changed since that time. But obviously she can hit the ball. And coaches, if they can just give you a little percentage better, at this level it's a huge difference.

Q. Has it gotten easier over the years to learn to live with your medical condition and deal with everything that comes along with it. The exercise and the diet, that has gotten easier. You got the hang of it now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes. I just -- I do my best every single day. That's pretty much the way it goes. I think just not being afraid is the most important thing.

Q. Serena said that she got motivated during her match by looking up and seeing your score.
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's been in here already?

Q. She said that off the court.
VENUS WILLIAMS: God, she's fast.

Q. She saw your score 4-1 in the third set and that motivated her. How quickly do you check the scores after your match and see how your sister is doing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My last match I was first on and before I could even finish the first set, she was already on court. So I saw that. But today I didn't see any scores. There was so much going on in my own match that I didn't even know where she was at until I got off the court. Sometimes, you know, and then days like today it's just, Okay, I need to get out here and survive. You don't see anything else and half the time you don't know the score.

Q. Along the same lines as fourth round not being your goal, but with this run you'll probably move up to 12 in the rankings. That's clearly pretty good. What does that mean to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have to tell you, I've been trying a long time to get my ranking up. That's awesome. It's hard to be ranked lower than what you know you are. So it's definitely exciting to see yourself go up the rankings. At the end of the day, I guess it doesn't matter what you're ranked, you still have to win your match; but if you do win your match you get a higher ranking. They both go hand in hand. Yeah, that's awesome. I'm going to try to go better.

Q. Talking about Serena saying she was motivated by you today and by your score. How much has she motivated you these last couple years with her on-court success?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely I'm always motivated -- I've been motivated by Serena though since day one, since 1998 or '97 actually. She's always been I think someone that anyone can learn from. The way she faces her life, the way she is fearless on the court, it's just -- I don't know anyone who doesn't learn from her. So of course I think I probably take it a lot more to heart because she's my sister and we've had the fortunate relationship to be able to motivate each other and grow from each other. I don't think I could have done the things I've done without her.
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