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January 22, 2015

Venus Williams


6-2, 6-3
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After some of the results here, how good to be back in the third round?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. Always good to advance. That's pretty much the goal when you step on the courts, it's like, Come on. Let's get to the next round. Met the goal today.

Q. Helped playing her in your last tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it definitely helped because I never played her before. She actually hits the ball quite powerfully and she's very aggressive. I think she played even more aggressive than when we played in Auckland. I think maybe her strategy was maybe to try to take control of the point. So I had to play some defense there as well as offense today.

Q. How do you feel about your game in general right now? Feel like you're playing well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I'm hitting the ball a lot like how I want to. Yeah, some points you play well and some not as well. I'm just continually trying to be as consistent as I can on the court and still play consistent while taking risk as well. Find that balance.

Q. You seem so relaxed, pretty happy -- very happy. Is this the happiest period in your career? How are you feeling about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always pretty happy, actually, so... I've had a lot of great times and I had losses, just like everyone else, but I'm always pretty happy. I haven't let tennis affect the rest of my life, whether it was good or bad. Also you can play so well and be on top of the world and that can affect you and make you not so fun to be around, too. I try not to let any of that stuff happen to me.

Q. The other day you said with a smile, Hey, I'm still a big kid. Talk about that. Do you feel just a certain joy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just my attitude toward life is just very nonchalant. I'm a hard worker and I definitely work toward goals and I have a serious side. More than anything I'm a big joker. You don't see that on the court because that's when you're most intense. I think people who may know me and don't know much about tennis, when they see me on the court they're like, Oh, I'm scared of you are now. Someone told me that recently. So definitely have two sides. You know.

Q. All this about the struggle you've had with injuries. Is this part of your career a rejuvenation, a second coming?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think sometimes in life you just have to learn to deal with the cards you been dealt. I've just been trying to get used to my new life, I guess. I think it's just an adjustment to getting used to how I need to live now. Just hanging in there I think a lot of it, too. The good part is I know how to play tennis and I have a lot of experience, so that helps me a lot on the court.

Q. Are you driving in Melbourne again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't been driving. There were times I went on adventures. I think Melbourne is one of the cities I know best because I've gone so many different places here on my own actually in a car. Pretty scary. I drive really slow. You always think in the back of your head, I don't want to get on the wrong side of the road. So you drive real slow and always get a car I can follow, especially on those turns, so I make sure I'm following someone. Just to make sure nothing goes wrong. But it's definitely an adventure.

Q. Do you remember driving when your dad told you to take over the VW bus when you were going around the neighborhood after the first tournament you won?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know how dads are though. They're usually a little more lenient than moms. Usually, I thought. My dad would let us behind the wheel. Not too crazy. Like in parking lots and things like that. We obviously weren't on the 405.

Q. You made it to a bunch of third rounds during this phase of your career. Haven't gotten past this stage in a few years. What do you think it's going to take to that next step into the second week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, I've won in my life. I've won a lot of things. For me it's about titles, so no matter what the title is for me, to the finals is the same thing as the third round if I didn't win. For me, it's about hopefully trying to take titles home. You know, last year I got in the circle to hopefully take titles quite a few times, and sometimes came up short. That's pretty much where I want to be. That's my focus really is, how close can I get myself to be in that winner's circle.

Q. Why did you and Serena pull out of doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: According to the rules you don't have to give a reason. I think we'll stick with that.

Q. Nothing to do with the heat?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was warm. I don't think it was as warm as it could have been. But, no, that wasn't it.

Q. That wasn't the reason?

Q. Were doctors consulted as part of the reasoning?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No further questions on that. I object. Sustained. Thank you.

Q. You play Camila Giorgi next. What do you know about her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not sure if I played her before, but she definitely raises her game depending on the caliber player that she plays. I think it's just important to remain consistent and aggressive, just as I've been this whole year. That's my goal.

Q. With your interest in the Dolphins, wondering if you had any thoughts on the Patriots and the "deflate gate" controversy. What affect in tennis do the balls have as the matches go on? They change your play at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've been so focused on my own match that I've lost focus on football, especially since the Dolphins aren't in the playoffs. I have no idea what "deflate gate" is.

Q. What affect do the balls have? Do they change much?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never been a sensitive player, so I just keep hitting whether the balls are heavy or light or whatever ball it is. I just go. So there are other players who are much more sensitive. And I'm happy that I don't notice or it doesn't affect me. I'm not the player to ask about that.

Q. Pretty intense situation to have to deal with all your health situations as a young woman. What are the one or two things that you've taken away from this experience in terms of lessons and how has it affected you as a person?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think more than anything I'm appreciative of all the opportunities I've had in my life. I'm appreciative for good health, because there was a period where I couldn't even play professional tennis, so I had to not be on tour. So I'm appreciative for good health and just to be able to feel good every day. You know, there was a point where I didn't just in regular life. So to overcome that, I'm grateful. And also I think when things are out of your control, it's easy to be afraid and fear can really hold you back. So I think you have to just conquer that fear. That's I think something I've learned as well, just to not be afraid. If you are, you have to learn how to deal with it.

Q. Is it fair to call this a rejuvenated version of you or is that something we projected on to you and you don't feel that way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just doing the best I can. (Laughing.) I always was, even when it wasn't what I wanted. So whatever that is, I'm doing absolutely the best I can. I think as long as I'm doing my best, something good will come out of it. There is a Scripture that says faith without works is dead. So you have to have faith, but you have work too. So I'm doing both.

Q. So the same old Venus, just back to where you were sort of thing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm in a lot of places. (Laughter.) Which one we talking about?

Q. Level of tennis, I suppose.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Honestly, I think I understand the game a lot more. Even when I'm not playing as well, I think I'm able tactically to be more strategic than even, let's say, Venus of 2000. So I think there is a big difference. I watched some old matches, and I'm like, Wow, if I could have been more strategic I could have won this match a lot easier. So I think strategically it's more helpful, even if I am not on top of my game. I understand things a lot more. So that's one of the beauties of continuing to play as you get a lot of the years under your belt.

Q. You mentioned work. What have you learned the most from doing your whole EleVen project? Has it impacted your tennis in any way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You have to make a lot of hard decisions, and sometimes the hardest decision is the right one but not the easiest to make. I think that's what I've learned. It's important to know everything about the business that you're in and not just specialize in one part. Oh, I'm going to do the design. It's great. It's pretty. I love colors. You have to know the whole business. Am I liking this to tennis? I don't know. I don't even remember the question. I learned a ton, a lot of which I would like to not get into because some of the lessons are also failures as well.

Q. Is business tougher than tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. (Laughter.) It's always hard. If tennis was easy, everyone would be doing it. There are a lot of people that would love to do this. It's not easy, whether you don't have the physical talent or the mental endurance to put up with all this. It's definitely a roll of the dice if you're going to play pro tennis or any professional sport.

Q. Learning more about the game and learning how to play it - said you were watching little videos of yourself or however you're doing it - how much of that is net play for you and understanding how to use the net and your strengths up there, and do you wish you maybe had done it differently over the years?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think I've always been a player that likes to come to the net. I think I may have even come to the net more in the past actually. But I think you have to be a little bit more strategic when you come to the net now. The courts are a little bit slower so the ball will stand up a little bit more, so you have to be a little bit more strategic to make sure you don't get killed when you get to the net. So things change in the game, and you have to be willing and ready to adjust. The best players are the ones that can transition. Typically it's always has been that way.

Q. What's a lasting memory, if you think back to playing Serena here 15, 16 years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just remember what a tough match. It was just relentless. I think it finally ended with a break in the third. That's all I can remember. It was very tough I think for both of us. Neither one of us could get the upper edge. It was just a marathon. That's mostly what I remember.

Q. Maybe I missed it, but seems like it's been a long time since we've seen your wonderful dad. How is he doing? How is his health? How is he doing as a new dad?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, dad is good. Everybody is happy. He's really done his time since the '80s, so... He's done so much tennis there is a point like, All right, kids, go ahead and do it or not do it, but I'm proud of you anyway. So I think he's at that point.

Q. Going back to another match, what do you remember about the time you played Karsten Braasch.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was a long time ago. I remember that I didn't win. I was a kid; I was 17. Let me tell you, his strategy was a thousand times better than mine could have been. Yeah, it was one set though, not a full match.

Q. You do a little better today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, he's older and I'm smart now. But it was really just for fun really.
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