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August 28, 2017

Venus Williams

New York, NY, USA

V. WILLIAMS/V. Kuzmova

6-3, 3-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You were playing a player today who had never played a WTA match. Did you know that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had no idea what she looked like, who she was, anything. But she played amazing. She played well, served well, competed well. Definitely a match I had to earn.

Q. You dropped the second set. Did you know your experience would see you through?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely wasn't expecting or planning on dropping sets today. But things happen. That's why we play the match, because you have to win the match.

So it's just all about regrouping. It's the first round. You figure out, you know, what's going on.

Q. With Serena not here, I know you're contacting her a lot, is she going to serve as a quasi coach, giving you a lot of pointers during the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we always coach each other pretty much, so... We know what it's like to be out there, both of us. It's like I know I relate to her, she relates to me. I know exactly what it feels like. It's great to get advice from someone like that.

Q. Could you talk about your memories of playing the great Steffi Graf.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's been a while. We played some epic matches. It was the beginning of my career. The end of her amazing career, as well. She went out on top as a major winner, in the top 10, chose to move on.

I mean, she did a lot in the game.

Q. In what ways has your reservoir of experience added to your love for the game and for your ability to navigate and be No. 9 in the world at this point, be in contention for No. 1?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Experience? I think experience helps me a lot. I feel like I've been experienced for a long time now. There's a point in your life or in your career where things click, and from there on it's like, Okay, I think I know how to win matches, how to handle myself in situations. That motif continues.

Q. Is it easier to love the game when you have that kind of experience, you've been through it all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think it's easy to love the game when you're playing well. I'm usually playing some measure of well.

If you're not ever playing well, I think that's when the things get rough, you know.

Q. There are so many institutions and tennis courts that have been around for so many years. How does it feel to be on Arthur Ashe?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's massive. When I was flying in, we flew right over it. A certain excitement, I get to play there. It's a privilege. It's an honor. I take it quite seriously. Everybody does.

It's just been, you know, a dream come true, to continue to come back.

Q. You said you don't have 20 years left in you, but you can really enjoy this year. Are you starting to take it year by year? What do you think your timetable is on how much longer? You're 37.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. We'll see. I have no plans. Zero.

Q. You mentioned how you and Serena coach each other, talk to each other. It's a different feeling for you right now being the lone Williams representative here. How does that make you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely have adjusted at this point. It takes time. There's moments where you have very distinct memories of, like, togetherness. I've been able to remember those and be fond or have some longing or happy memories, all those feelings.

But the plan is hopefully that it won't be forever.

Q. Coming into the US Open, reflecting back, how would you describe the year you've had thus far and the overall state of your game as it is now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, a lot of learning experiences. That's really what it is. The wins and the losses, the opportunity to grow.

I feel like I'm still continuing to grow. That's pretty much how I've seen the year.

Q. How do you feel about the state of your play right now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel like my game always rises a lot in the bigger events. That's what I feel like, like I'll be ready to play when push comes to shove.

Q. You said out there you weren't that concerned with the race for the No. 1 ranking, that you just want to win. Elaborate on that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't know about the race. I don't really tune into sports news, per se, especially when you're trying to prepare for an event. All you know is your own preparation - for me.

Really, though, if I win my matches, I'll be No. 1 or No. 9 or No. 2, whatever number, but I would have won my match. That's at the end of the day my main goal.

Q. It's an individual sport. When you take the court at the US Open, is there a sense of patriotic pride, representing the USA at the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I don't necessarily think about my country when I'm out there on the court. I mean, no matter where I go, I'm always American. So it's that feeling everywhere (laughter).

Q. Is there also an esprit de corps with Madison Keys, being at the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Is there what?

Q. Esprit de corps, Madison, Sloane, representing the best of American tennis.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we're all doing the best we can, playing well. They're coming back from some injuries. Clearly they can hit the ball. It's awesome to see.

Q. A question about Serena's pregnancy. As her sister, what is the process like? Is it exciting, nerve-wracking? Does it not really impact you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely a different experience, especially for she and I, because we spent our whole lives focused, so focused on work. So when you have an experience that is not work, it's pretty intense. That's all we do, is work and train and focus.

It's a completely different experience for both of us.

Q. Are you getting more and more excited about being Auntie V?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely, yeah.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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