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February 10, 2018

Venus Williams

Asheville, North Carolina


6-1, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You made your Fed Cup debut in 1999. Today you played your one thousandth career match. Speak to your longevity, what a milestone like this means to you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don't really know about these milestones when they happen. It's just great to be playing the game that I love.

Not really going for milestones, but then they happen.

Q. Can you speak about the first set, those two breaks of serve in the middle, how that maybe impacted the flow of the match.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely made the match a lot more competitive. That's what we're here for, is to compete. The game's not over till it's over. There were a lot of games I thought, Oh, I have this game, then she stepped it up. Sometimes I didn't play the best shot, she would play a great shot. It kept the game close.

Q. After the match you talked about how great the match was in Asheville. Talk about the atmosphere.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt proud. Also you don't want to let this crowd down, you don't want to let your country down. That definitely adds to the pressure.

As players, we're not used to playing in a team atmosphere, so it definitely puts a lot more pressure, not only for of course our team but their team as well.

Q. Your thoughts on Arantxa's play today. She came in here and talked about how much she had to step it up to compete with you. Seemed like for many games throughout the course of today, she was right on you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it took a little while for me to understand her game. She had a good serve. She had some of those first serves in. She was playing great defense at times, too.

There was one point that I definitely thought I won, and somehow she managed to win it. Those kind of unexpected moments definitely were well-competed by her.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about a bit of a slow start last month to the year, how this match might help you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm excited to have matches. I wasn't necessarily going to enter more tournaments. I think I'm playing well. I just had some bad luck. I played players who just were on fire. Never really got a chance to start. Sometimes that happens. Just the beginning of the year.

Q. You go through this all the time at the start of a Grand Slam. How difficult is it when you are expected to win, where you know you're the overwhelming favorite? How do you get up for that? Did it take a little bit in this match to recognize no matter what they say, you still have to win?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. Trust me, I know there's no givens. You have to take. I'm very familiar with that. I realize that. It's old news for me at this point.

Q. You mentioned the altitude a little bit in your post match comments. Talk about what you felt. Was there tiredness, shortness of breath?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, maybe I felt a few of my balls were flying a little bit. I got maybe a little bit tentative. I think that created some opportunities in the second set, too.

Finally I just had to let go of that thought, hit it hard and deep. Sometimes it even looked like they were about to go out, but they landed in, so I was lucky.

Q. I think you broke her serve five straight times at one point. What was working for you in your return game? How critical was it in the first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just try to win the point. I mean, it doesn't get too much more complicated than that. No matter what, how well you're playing, how not well, just try to win the point.

Q. How important is the first rubber in a tie like this, setting the tone for the rest of the weekend?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's always great if your team can start out with a win. It hopefully takes pressure off the player going second. I've always enjoyed playing first in these ties.

Clearly Coco is amazing, so... Maybe it would have been better for her to go first. I was thinking the other day. It's great to have two players. I'm looking forward to getting out there and supporting her.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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