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May 28, 2017

Venus Williams

Paris, France


6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Not an easy one to get through, but a first round. Analyze the situation for us.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the first round is always tricky. You know, she played well. I just tried to stay aggressive until the end. You know, you have to still be aggressive even though the courts are slower here on the clay.

Q. Qiang Wang played a good defense game today overall. When you were trailing in both sets, what tactics you changed to try to flip the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, when I was trailing, you know, I know she had done things to earn it, to be at 4-2, so it was a credit to her. But also, I realized I had to put some balls in the court, so that would be my main focus at that point.

Q. How do you feel to play your 20th Roland Garros?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Is it 20 already? I thought I missed a few, but apparently not (smiling). Here we are. You know, what an experience. What can I say?

Q. Coming into the second slam of the season after making the final in Australia, is your mindset going into this tournament any different than maybe what it was last year or the year before? Do you feel like this is, you know, another big opportunity for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's always an opportunity, for sure. You know, I want to play the kind of tennis that's consistent and aggressive, inspired.

That's my goal, really, every match.

Q. Now we have Agassi in men's tennis. A lot of legends coming back. There is not a lot of legends in women's tennis. What do you think about all that? Maybe one day you considering to come back as a coach one day?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know what the future will be for me, but I have already played 20 Grand Slams here? So I don't know that I have big plans to come back as a coach.

You know, I don't think you know what's going to happen in 20 years. Who knows? In 20 years, maybe I'll think it's refreshing to be back.

Q. What can you say about men's tennis legends as coaches? There is a not a lot of big names as coaches in WTA.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I never really thought about it.

Q. I don't know if you got a chance to see Petra Kvitova, her match earlier. Your thoughts on what she accomplished today just by coming back.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm sure it was super emotional. I didn't get to see the match, but it's great to have her back. You don't imagine in life that you're going to go through that. I don't think you wake up and realize that's gonna happen.

I'm very happy that she's had a winning return.

Q. This isn't the first time, of course, you've been at a tournament without your sister, but usually, especially at the Grand Slams, and most recently in Australia where you were all the way to the final together. You are at these places with her. Just wondering how, on a personal level, it feels to be at the tournament without Serena? And as a competitor who enters a tournament hoping to go far and win a title, if you think of it in that way at all, the fact that she's not here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we definitely miss the doubles, we were talking about that, how much we miss the doubles.

But obviously I have played events without her. I think I was prepared to come here without her, so it makes it -- you know, when you know something is going to happen, then you're like, Okay, I'm ready to deal with this. I've had some time to prepare, I think.

I think it's not easy for her to watch, because, you know, obviously she knows she can do well here. So I think that she's just excited about everything coming up in her life, on and off the court, excited about returning here hopefully next year.

Q. Considering we just mentioned the legends sort of of the game, what do you make of some of the things that some of the legends, for example, Nastase in a quote has said in recent weeks and months, and how much, like, emphasis should we put on their on-court achievements considering some of their off-court statements and behavior?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Somebody's always saying something somewhere. I don't have any comments on other people's comments, per se. Just trying to keep my thing about on the game. As long as it's not affecting anyone's lives, and it isn't, then no problemo.

Q. I'll get a little nosier. I know you're an aunt already, but can you talk a little bit about your pending role as an aunt to Serena's child? And also, since she revealed that she was aware she was pregnant when she played in Australia, I was curious, were you aware of that at that time or was she holding it kind of close?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't like to talk too much, so my mouth will always be shut. But I'm definitely looking forward to it. I have no idea what the experience will be like, because previously I became an aunt when I was very young and lived far away, across the country, so it was a completely different experience than it will be this time.

So I hope that I can live up to this job (smiling). I've got to get some confidence that I can do this. It's all new for me. It's a great journey.

Q. How much do you attribute your longevity to just taking breaks, maybe not playing as much as some other players have through the years? Is that a paradigm, a model that you would, you know, suggest to other players, you know, either in their 30s or even younger?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely I think spacing out how long, how many tournaments I have played, I believe that's helped me. I didn't play the junior tour, so that's -- there is even more years of touring. It's not easy emotionally or mentally or physically to do this job, so I think that helps. I haven't had any other experience.

So would I recommend it? For sure, but I think if you're happy playing a lot of tournaments and you can handle that, then it's not a problem. But if you're not, then you have to space it out.

Q. Two quick questions. Serena kind of left a blank spot now. Like it feels like no one really wants to take the No. 1. Like Angelique, from Germany, I'm from Germany, too, struggled today again. Pliskova isn't doing well on clay court. Simona is injured. What do you think? Is it a sign of weakness for the WTA right now that there is no potential No. 1 really and a future No. 1? Do you think it makes Serena kind of also mad at home that she would have been, of course, the clear No. 1 and that someone is missing? That's my first question.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, so, all I can speak of are the players that I play against, and they play amazing every time. That's the competition I face.

What other players are doing, I have gotta be honest, I don't watch so closely. I just try to understand what can I accomplish. And then after that I go home.

So I look at it a much different way than perhaps other people.

Q. I'm just curious, since you made it sound like, in a certain way, a task, what do you think the job requirements are for an aunt or a good aunt, that you might be asked to do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know yet. That's the problem.

Q. Diapers or something? Are you good at that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's why I don't know how well I'm going to do. Because I don't know what to do.

Q. Haven't ever changed a diaper?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think you just have to be ready, aware, and alert. Then have a lot of diaper duty. Yeah. So we'll see.

Q. I'm wondering about on-court coaching. At the slams it's not allowed. Do you take advantage of it? There are some coaches, especially male coaches, who say that female tennis has gotten better technique-wise because of the on-court coaching? Do you think that's true? What's your opinion on it? Or is it rather marketing and entertainment?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really have a big opinion on on-court coaching, really. So I'm probably not the best one to ask about it. I don't really call my coach on the court.

Q. I am from China. Would you please say more about your opponent.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the first time I played her, I think today the experience helped, for sure. Having the opportunity to play 20 of these tournaments helped me a lot.

But I think she has a bright future ahead. I'd love to play her again. I think it was a lot of fun. I'd like the opportunity to do it again.

Q. When you're at a tournament like the French Open where everybody talks about how much weather impacts conditions and things like that, how much do you wake up and look out the window and check what's going on weather-wise or check your app or do you just not think about it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't think about it. I just try to get up early and train before the rain comes to try to beat the rain. I try not to think about it, because it could be scary. But right now it's not. So let's not think about it.

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