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August 30, 2016
New York, NY, USA
V. WILLIAMS/K. Kozlova
6-2, 5-7, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How would you assess your play today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, today, the first round is never easy. You're trying to find a rhythm, get used to the court, you know, play an opponent I never played before.
But it was great to be challenged and to be pushed because I had to get in those situations that you know you're going to face in the tournament early on. So that felt good to come through.
Q. You looked like you were pretty agile today, all over the court. Has your dancing helped that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No one's going to pay me to dance (laughter). They'll pay me to play tennis. I'm going to keep it at that. If it is helping, thank God.
Movement was important today. Of course, courts are a little slow, so you have to have that little extra in the movement or something.
Q. 18 US Opens. You've never lost in the first round. How tough is that first match to come out and to be at your peak and make sure you win through against an opponent that you didn't know much about?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't know much about her game at all, literally zero. And it's hard. The first round is hard. I haven't played a single match in, like, three weeks. Just getting out there and trying to play perfectly.
I definitely had a lot more errors than I wanted. If I could cut those in half, it's definitely a different story.
The good part is I'm playing the game I want to play, I'm playing aggressively and moving forward. It's just about making a few less errors and it's a completely different story.
Q. When you walk off the court after that second set, what goes through your mind having lost it the way you did, probably wanting to regroup a little bit for the third?
VENUS WILLIAMS: After the second set, I was so motivated, honestly I was ready to play an even more aggressive game. I was ready to play even more aggressively. I think in the beginning of the second, I was just too eager so I had to kind of pull back and try to play smart but still aggressive because the game she plays is just pure defense, it appears, and she does well with it.
Q. It's been five years since you told us you have the Sjogren's syndrome. You've had a pretty good year. You have to be happy with the year you've had.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course. Then as an athlete, you're always aiming for perfection, you want more and more and more. It's never enough. That's what I'm looking forward to, to peak every time I get on the court. That pretty much doesn't happen 'cause I'm always wanting to be better.
Q. What would you say that you love the most about tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love that I love it. So when you love something, you put the work in. I love the challenge. Definitely I like the pressure. I like the high stakes. All of that makes it just perfect for my personality.
Q. 72 Grand Slam appearances. It's a record.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Record for people playing?
Q. I think it's the all-time record.
VENUS WILLIAMS: For what?
Q. 72 Grand Slam appearances.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hmm (smiling).
Q. In the main draw.
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's crazy.
Q. What are your thoughts on that? What does it say about your career?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm grateful and I'm blessed. All I'm hoping for is just health that I can keep that record going. I don't know when I'm going to stop playing. I don't have plans now. I'm playing too well to be thinking about stopping. I appear to be getting better each and every month.
So I'd like to make that record hard for someone to break (smiling).
Where is Serena at? Not far behind?
Q. Not far behind.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not far behind.
Q. You talked about coming off the court after the second set and feeling really motivated. Obviously when you came off after the third and won, you looked very happy. You were hitting the balls up. What goes through your mind at a time like that? Do you think about where you're hitting them?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I was just trying to hit them high. Those fans deserve it. They really put in the time. They really were behind me. Definitely grateful the match was over.
She seemed to play her best from behind. I just wanted to finish that out and use my experience to try to dominate the last game.
Q. You play the game with such joy. Is there any extra sense of excitement when you and Serena are taking Ashe on the same day?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not necessarily because when you're in the thick of it, you are so focused on that moment. In a lot of ways, you don't have time to celebrate the moment. You're, like, focusing because if you don't, then you will lose the moment and be out of the tournament. So it's just laser focus the whole time.
Q. You look so elegant, there's grace there. Today when we asked your mixed doubles partner from Rio what was the quality that most struck him. He said your fierceness, you're such a fierce athlete. Could you talk about that. Where did that come from?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I told him when we got on the court, I said, It looks like I'm really nice but I'm not (laughter). I think he learned that. Of course, I'm nice, but... I'm an inward person but I'm extremely competitive. I think when you're a doubles partner with me that's when you really get to know that side because of the way we're strategizing and the way we go into the match. I think he got to know that I don't take a loss for an answer.
Q. Do you think because you're so inward that somehow helps you? Your fierceness is a little hidden?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone's different. It's just how I operate. Some people are outward, and they need all that. For me, it works for me. It's just my personality.
Q. Do you take particular note when there are other siblings in the men's or women's draws? The Harrisons, for example, may be the brothers to come through qualifying. Thoughts on that. Do you take particular note?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's really wonderful to have a sibling on tour. I know that Serena and I's experience is extraordinary, but for us it feels normal. Then we always have our whole family here with us, and that feels normal.
It's wonderful to know that someone knows exactly what you're going through. Of course, when you're playing your opponents, they know what you're going through. But there's not an aligned interest, so to speak. Our interests are always aligned. When I'm sitting there in the box, I'm like, I've been in that moment. I know what she's feeling.
Q. At this point in your career do you think you sign more autographs or take more selfies with fans?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Selfies have become an epidemic. You are getting off a plane at 1 a.m., Can I take a selfie? Please, I'm so tired, I don't want to take a picture right now. I never thought I'd be here in my life. I got to say.
I'm a tennis player, but somehow I'm famous. It's strange.
Q. There are times when fans struggle to actually get the photo off.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every time. Every time (laughter).
Q. In the New York Times profile on you, there was one line that struck me, that you're learning AutoCAD. How does a professional tennis who is pretty busy all the time do that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did learn AutoCAD, but then I forgot it because I didn't use it for five years. So then I learned Revit, which is a completely different system. So I probably could work AutoCAD now, but I need to kind of go backwards.
In any case, it's a random thing in my life. I'm very, very much immersed in the industry.
Q. The commentators were talking about the crowd support tonight. Is that something you recognized as well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Once I came back from illness, it seemed like the crowd was really, really there for me, on my side. Maybe they related to what I was going through. I definitely saw a big difference once I came back from taking time off and being ill.
Q. Ryan Harrison yesterday said an interesting thing, that he would rather face Novak Djokovic in the tournament than his brother. I presume you have a similar feeling in terms of facing Serena. When there's a draw, how quickly do you notice where you are in relation to Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: So you're saying I would rather play Novak Djokovic (laughter)? I think the chemicals in our body are completely different. I don't think I need to be in that position, but...
I don't know. We've been playing each other since day one. I don't know what their experience has been, but we know we have to play each other. If we didn't want to play each other, one of us should have ran track or something. So we know it's going to happen when we get out there. We just get ready for it.
Q. When Serena won here in 1999, she came out and just hit the cover off the ball for seven matches. How different of a player tactically was she in '99 versus now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I always admired her game. Just so fearless. You can't teach that. Not only fearless, but execution as well. I had an interesting question for her because, you know, I got to the finals in '97. I thought, I want to ask her, does she think she could have won that final, because I didn't even come close. So I wonder if my experiences beforehand helped her to be ready for those sorts of positions. That's a question I have to ask her.
But I wouldn't bet against her. Honestly, I wouldn't want to do that.
Thank you, guys. Good night.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports