March 27, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
VERONIQUE MARCHAL: Questions.
Q. What is an afternoon like tomorrow going to mean to you?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I hope it doesn't mean what this means right now, because I'm already nervous, shaking. For me it would be a great opportunity to see what we've been planning for our all life. After doing all the planning, I learned I'm not ready for it. It's going to be a great opportunity for me.
Q. Does that mean you're going to learn as much from it as the girls are?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Yes, that is very true. Well said.
Q. You're not usually a nervous type, are you?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I'm sorry?
Q. You're not usually a nervous type. You seem to be at the matches, you give the impression that you actually leave the match, come back, and you wouldn't find it a problem. This is getting to you, is it?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Yes, it is, very much so. We're planning so long, so hard, work so difficult. When I think about where we came from out of the ghetto to where we are right now, yes, I'm very nervous, even sitting right here right now.
Q. What would you normally do when the girls are playing matches? How much would you talk to either one of them before a normal match, and how different will it be tomorrow?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: It would be very different. In a normal match, it's just so simple just to advise them by saying, "I know this person, what they going to do. Let me tell you what I think you should do. That's no problem there. Just stay relaxed and hit about two balls to this girl forehand, two balls to this girl backhand. Miss a couple shots deliberately, and she going to get a lot of confidence. You'll have no problem, then you going to run straight through her." How would I advise them tomorrow? Last night they asked me about going to practice. I said, "You have to be kidding, I'm not going to go practice." But I had no idea they was going to go today either.
Q. Where will you be during the match? How will you be supporting them?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: How I will support them? I don't know. I'll be sitting in a box seat watching Venus and Serena. My only hope in watching my babies is that I don't cry. I didn't know I was so sensitive until just a few days ago. I hope I don't cry. That's what I would hope.
Q. In a way, the way things are going, this could be good preparation for the Grand Slams. Maybe it's going to happen there, too, them reaching the finals.
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Well, let's hope so.
Q. What were your feelings yesterday afternoon when you saw first Serena and then Venus win matches against Martina and Steffi, particularly against Steffi whose career has been so outstanding?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Actually, Steffi Graf is my favorite player on the Tour, and Venus and Serena would be my second and third. I admire Steffi Graf more than any player. The reason I admire Steffi Graf so much, when other players was not there, Steffi Graf was there. Steffi Graf, as far as I'm concerned, took the WTA, the Tour, and everyone else on her shoulder and did a marvelous job. I wanted to see my daughter beat Steffi Graf, but I guess I was hoping Steffi would win, too. But in reality, I really wanted to see Venus win. Steffi Graf is my favorite player.
Q. What made you decide to train Venus and Serena for tennis, and I presume not your three older daughters? Were they just disinterested? You weren't into tennis at that time?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Actually, the best player we have in the house is my daughter Isha. None of the kids would have been able to compete with Isha. Isha is the type of a girl that could probably might have been able to play with the mens. Isha had a problem with her back. But Isha was the best player in the house.
Q. What do the other three daughters do? How old are they?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Yetunde, she's in California. She's getting ready to try to get herself out of med school to be a cardiologist specialist. Isha is getting ready to graduate from law school. She's already taking classes to become a surgeon, also. She want to do both of them. Lyndrea wants to be a plastic surgeon. And Venus, she wants to be -- at one time she wanted to be an anthropology. I end up spending so much money on these books and instructors, now she's changed her mind. So she wanted to go -- I think she wanted to be -- she wants to be an architect now. And Serena, she wants to be a veterinarian. It was very difficult, you know, coming out of the ghetto, where people normally wouldn't go to school, to push them to say, "No, this is what you have to do, learn more languages." But Isha would have been the best kid in everything.
Q. How old is Isha?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I'm shaking so. Isha is 24.
Q. Would you prefer to avoid this situation in the future and have the girls not face each other in tournaments?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Well, that mean I'd have to see them lose earlier. So, no, I'd rather see them face each other.
Q. You didn't travel very much last year in Europe particularly with them. Do you plan to change that? Will you go with them more now?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: No. I really believe that fathers have been bad for tennis. And I don't like going to tennis tournament, because I have a lot of -- every year I develop three business, every year. And every business I develop, I expect for that business to produce anywhere from $10 to $15 million a year. That do not allow me time to run to a tennis tournament. The girls get really upset with me because I will not go. They go, "You the coach." I say, "No, I'm a manager, too." I really do not care to go to too many tournaments. I usually try to go to no more than four a year. That's enough.
Q. What are these businesses that you've developed?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: As you can see, I'm wearing one right here (indicating his baseball cap with 'Williams & Williams' embroidered on it). I just started this business here about four months ago. It's already at $45,000 a month. My next business, the latest business, we're doing funny books. We're taking some peoples that have really made a real pleasure out of their life that you already know about, and we're doing funny books. We're doing cartoons now with these peoples and so on that will shortly be out. We're doing my book, which is called -- a lot of time I think you peoples , some peoples have said that I was mad anyway. So my book coming out that will be released at the US Open is called Method to My Madness. There's some songs that will come out. I'm a singer now also. I plan to push Michael Jackson, if I can. One of the other business I open this year was my mortgage company. But each year I come out with three business.
Q. Is that a transportation company you have there? Looks like a bus you have on your cap.
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Yes, it is. It's actually a charter bus. We haul a lot of peoples around from state to state and from schools, universities and so on. I didn't know there was so much money in transportation. Actually, it's just about a $60 billion business per year.
Q. Where do you think the girls are now in their tennis development? Where do you think they can go even higher?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: As you probably heard me say in the past, my girls would be No. 1. I don't even think that way now, especially after I see where they are now, because I probably get scared to death if they was No. 1. I might be sitting there watching the match and have a heart attack. I hope wherever they goes is where they would want to go. I think that been the problem with most parents. I don't know about the women, but the mens anyway. Seems like they was out there pushing to hard. In our case and my case, I only allowed Venus and Serena to play very sparingly. When Venus wanted to play, I wouldn't let her play. When she was 14, she said, "I can play six tournaments." I was, "You can play one tournament. You're going to get an education." As you can see, she speaks well. She's speaking four languages pretty near fluently. She's been spending a lot of time at the college and so on. So I'm not concerned about where they going to go in tennis. I think they going to find their own niche there someday.
Q. How important is it to you for them to be normal teenagers as well as successful tennis players?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think they ever going to be normal (laughter). It's going to be very difficult with them right now. But if it was possible, I would hope that they could be as close to normal as possible. Everywhere those girl go, seem like everyone recognize. Even the dogs bark when she pass by. I don't think they ever get to normal again. But what I can do as a parent, I can always as a parent say, "You should not do this here." And they tend to listen very well, because that's the way we brought them up.
Q. How do you make sure it's a positive experience when they play each other?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: When Venus plays against Serena, and she played against her before, whenever the match is over, they would always come and say, "I love you very much. I'm sorry we had to play each other early." What we normally do is try to explain to them that before we started playing, we expected this to happen. So they usually have a niche with the family where we all come back together and root for each other, pull for each other.
Q. Has it always been like that or was there ever a time when they'd be playing against each other so much when they were smaller? Were they always getting along, was it always friendly?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: No, it's always been friendly. It started with my mom. I didn't have a dad. My mom taught me that family is the oldest human institution, that it is society most basic unit. Entire civilization has survived and disappeared depending on whether family life was weak or strong. I taught my kids what my mom taught me. Tell you something. When Venus was about four years old, I think it was '84, my mom said, "You can't raise two kids like I brought you up in the '40s and the '50s." I just say, "Yes, ma'am." But I brought them up that way anyway because they start working at two years old. My wife was really upset with me about that. And bringing kids up to be responsible, you're not bringing them up to be dependable (sic). We never have a problem with what goes on because they looking to help each other all the time.
Q. What is your feeling on the Fed Cup? I know they've been named to the team. In the past, I've talked to both of them and they say that goes against their Jehovah Witness beliefs to play for their country. What's your stand on that?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I think to play for their country, you representing America. I don't think a lot of peoples understand how good America is until they leave this country. I know when I was young, I used to say, "To hell with America." But when I got a chance to travel, and when you see what it's like in these other countries, brother, I love America. So if I could play the Fed Cup and represent America, off I'm gone (snapping fingers).
Q. No problem with your religious beliefs then?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: See, I'm not a Jehovah Witness.
Q. But they are?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: They are. And I've taught them to make decisions. So whatever decision they make, they would make that decision. But I'm not a Witness.
Q. Will they have custody of the cup for six months each? Where will it be in the house, the trophy?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: That's a good question. I wouldn't know. I don't know the answer to that one. I can tell you this much here. I do not allow no trophies in my house. I've never allowed one trophy in the house at no time. I put all the trophies out in the garage. And when they move, they can take those trophies with them.
Q. Why is that?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Because I see so many parents get carried away with a trophy and a ranking and a sponsor. We never asked for a sponsor. My wife went out and prepared to have financial aids for ourself. Before every kid in the house were born, we already had two years of income put away. A lot of people will walk around thinking that we was broke. But we own a (inaudible) security service. (Inaudible) security service was making $8,500 per man. Naturally, it was a small minority company. But for every man, it was $8,500. We only had 53 peoples working for us. So back in 1979, when peoples thought we was broke, we was making more in one month than most people were making the whole year.
Q. You raised two young tennis stars. How is the business of being a tennis dad?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I think I could really capitalize off of Venus and Serena if I had more time. But I really do not, because I really do a lot of work for the Chinese peoples and the Japanese peoples and so on, and represent them. As a matter of fact, we thinking now about buying Rockefellar Center for $3,900,000,000, so I don't have time to even think about tennis no more.
Q. From the way they're playing right now, if they were to be drawn in different halves at Wimbledon, could we possibly see a repeat of that there?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I would like to say this here. I don't think not one girl out on the WTA Tour, and I'm not talking about the No. 1 or No. 10, but we have some girls out there on this Tour that can actually play tennis. I don't think no one will get in and dominate tennis like Martina Navratilova once did. So I would hope that we could expect it, but I think that we're going to have a lot of girls out there that going to challenge Venus and Serena, and Venus and Serena going to challenge them. So anyone can win Wimbledon.
Q. Is Serena strong enough now to be able to beat Venus?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: If Venus wanted to win, no one can beat Venus, if Venus put her mind to it. The reason no one can beat Venus is Venus is too fast and too strong and hit the ball too hard for anyone. At the same time, Serena right now is probably playing like the best player on the Tour right now, it seems like it. But I don't know if anyone could beat Venus.
Q. Yesterday Martina Hingis was asked about who would win. She said in the past meetings she didn't think that Serena was allowed to win. Is that true? Can either of them win tomorrow? Is it up for grabs?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Well, I think Serena should be asked that question. I can say this much here, that the way Serena is hitting the ball right now, tomorrow I think anyone can win. I wouldn't want to take a bet on either one of them.
Q. Is it a psychological war out there tomorrow, as well?
RICHARD WILLIAMS: I think that when they come out they prove to themselves today that when they was going to go and practice, I didn't know they went to practice. I think they're saying, "I'm going to come out there and I'm going to hit the ball, sister. You better be ready."
VERONIQUE MARCHAL: On that note, thank you all.
RICHARD WILLIAMS: Thank you, very much.
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