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January 16, 2017

Venus Williams

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

V. WILLIAMS/K. Kozlova

7-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Some hard work there, first round. She was pretty persistent. Talk a little bit about the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, just from warmup it looked like she was just ready to go, hitting it solid. I really have to give her a lot of credit for playing a match that was not a lot of errors and just relentless.

I guess when I walk out there I have to expect that from my opponents and not an easy first round, but a great first round to get through, for sure.

Q. The first set, for quite a period of it, it just seemed -- you seemed like, you know, you couldn't quite find yourself, and she was hitting a lot of winners. How frustrating was that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't like to hit winners here, so it wasn't like ideal. I like to control the match. I think eventually the momentum was shifting and I could control the match, and I haven't really played in a while.

So it was kind of hard to go out there and think, oh, it's going to be perfect rhythm. But after the first set I felt more rhythm. Hopefully going through the tournament, I will just feel more and more rhythm.

Q. This is one of the tournaments with very different days of weather, depending on the day. Is it easier to get used to playing in the heat and just have that and not have to switch back to cold weather? I mean, do you have a preference for the weather conditions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm a Floridian, so I'm pretty good with heat. But obviously, if it's going to be hot, I think with players, you can train in the heat the week before. This last week it was kind of cool, actually, a lot of the time.

So it's definitely a wildcard, like, total wildcard.

Q. To adapt, do you have to change the way you prepare at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. You just do the best you can.

Q. What do you come in here, hoping for or expecting? This is one of these slams you have done well at but not won. You are 36, so what goes through your mind when you approach the Australian Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, just like every player here, I have put in a ton of work. I'm not coming all the way to Australia for kicks and giggles. I'm here as a competitor. Yeah, that's pretty much what it is.

Q. We asked a similar question to Rafa Nadal about that yesterday, and he said, If I was not coming out here thinking that I could do what I have done for the last ten years and compete at the highest level and have a chance of winning the title, I'd be fishing or playing golf. Is that kind of how you feel? Not necessarily the fishing or golf?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every player who is here wants to be here. Each player in the draw has an unbelievable ability to play tennis. There are some that have won more champions than others, but it's because we know how to play this game, and it's pretty serious stuff for us.

Q. But is it fair to say that if you didn't think maybe that you could win it or go to the latter stages that you wouldn't play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The mentality of each player is different. My own mentality is that I don't play for second.

Q. Last year you had some fun and were talking about marriage, and you said, Hey, it's really tough. You have to stick around, you have to listen. Sounds kind of hard. Then that little sister of yours went out and got married.
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's not married yet. She's on her way.

Q. Any comments or thoughts about or your feelings about your younger sister getting engaged and your thoughts...
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's much smarter than I am. That's pretty much... She's a wise woman. She's actually getting a real life.

She's paving the way, once again, for me. Maybe I'll grow up.

But it's been an awesome year for her, and this will be a great year again.

Q. Do you feel like you hold yourself back from that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, you can't plan these things. You can't. Just... you have just to just live and see what happens.

Q. Did you know as soon as she started dating him, he was the one? She's obviously had some nice guys along the way.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't. I don't know. I'd have to ask her how she felt.

Q. What did you see when you saw them together? Sometimes you can see when somebody has a connection.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, he's a super nice guy that -- you never know how the things are going to end. In this case, it's not gonna end, so it's great.

Q. You guys have not always, but shared headquarters or a home together. Will that be a little weird?

Q. Or is he moving in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't asked any questions, because that's kind of up to them. They don't need any pressure from me or family members, like Do this, do that. They have to figure out this life together. That's their job.

I just kind of go with the flow. I can always get on a plane if she moves somewhere else.

Q. Everybody has their "team" nowadays, and whether it's a coach, assistant coaches, family members, trainers, can you imagine back to a day, in the day when, like, in the '80s or whenever, John McEnroe went places without a coach except at a few key tournaments? Jimmy Connors did. Basically Borg or Vilas had a coach. Can you imagine that kind of day and how would you feel you would play if it was just Venus all the time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, because I have never done that. I can't say. I have no idea what that experience is. I'd like to think I'd do well, but I imagine it's not easy.

Times have changed, so I had no idea that not everybody went everywhere with a coach. It's all new to me.

Q. It was not commonplace. Everybody was on their own.
VENUS WILLIAMS: They were tough.

Q. A while ago, Petrova said, Hey, Venus and Serena have so many other interests that it's clear that the end is near for them tennis-wise, and that was 10 years ago and she just retired. Does it ever surprise you that you keep on going and keep on going and so many others have stepped away from the game? Please talk about that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you can't predict these things. You can't. You just have to have a love for the game and a love for working your butt off nonstop for endless years. But I don't mind hard work. I'm not afraid of it.

Q. Talk about the joy. Do you still feel a real joy for the sport and what it means?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure. I mean, you saw me out there today, the intensity level and what it takes to win in even a first-round match against a player you may not even know. It's hard work. It's not easy. That love is there.

Q. This may be a silly question, but if you could get a selfie with anybody outside of your family or friends, who would you like to have that selfie with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't even know. Don't know. Sorry.

Q. Have you ever thought about retiring?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I will at some point. I just don't know when.

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