March 20, 1997
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. How did you feel about the rat?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The rat? That was very odd. I really didn't know what was going on. Actually I thought it was some type of creature. I guess I figured it was a rat. I thought it was some type of mouse, not a rat. A full-blown rat?
Q. It was big.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Did they put it in a box or something?
Q. They were chasing it around.
Q. Did it disturb any of your momentum or anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it didn't.
Q. You always hate to pause that long.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, nothing like that ever happened before. I don't think it happens too often. I don't think it disturbed my rhythm too much. I don't think I was playing as well. I think she started playing better. She really gains momentum, especially if you give her some points. Actually, she has a very good forehand. She was running around her backhand to hit the forehand. She just played very well today.
Q. What bothered you the most, especially after the rat thing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't bothered at all.
Q. As far as with her play and all, the things she was doing that might have bothered you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She felt she was getting a lot of bad calls. I saw the balls. I didn't think they were in. I think I got a couple bad calls, but I just kind of move on with the match. Only in doubles I argue. I don't know, maybe the day will come when I start arguing in singles.
Q. The big Lipton tournament and all, your first time here in south Florida where you practice and live, how does it feel to be here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's a lot of fun. I've been coming to the Lipton for so long, maybe three or four years. Every stadium is really nice. Did they have it last year? I don't think I came last year. It's a great tournament, it's near home.
Q. To actually be here and play in it yourself, what was it like for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What was it like? I mean, it was like playing a regular tournament. The Lipton is great. It's a men's and women's tournament, 128 draw, something like a Slam. Everybody tries to get into this tournament.
Q. Don't you feel you're more relaxed like you're in front of your crowd, like it's home?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. A little more nervous?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. It would be the same if you played a tournament somewhere else in Europe, in front of a foreign crowd cheering against you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what it would be like with a foreign crowd. I never played out of the States. I'm going to play the Italian Open in May. That's the first one out of the States. I really don't know too much about the other side, I would say.
Q. Where will you be playing between now and the end of the summer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When does the summer end?
Q. Say after Wimbledon.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm playing Italy, France, Eastbourne, Wimbledon.
Q. Is that absolutely definite?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It's a lot of talk. No, it's not. I have great plans to be there.
Q. What could alter those plans?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Me changing my mind.
Q. Your decision?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, or if my parents said, "Venus, we don't really want you to play." They would let me play still, but I would think twice about it. If they didn't want me to play, there's probably a reason.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Do you have homework tonight?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't want to talk about it. I have like nine geometry assignments. I have chemistry, I'm taking some college courses. I haven't written a report that was due today. That's what happens when you go to tournaments, really.
Q. What's the report on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We had to do a people poll in political science, take a poll on political issues. I have to write about the results of my part in the poll, how I felt about the poll. I'm really going to tell her how I felt about it, how I want to do it.
Q. What are your favorite subjects in school?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In school, when I do geometry and know how to do it, I love it. The worst part was dihedral angles. I almost gave up on it. One day it clicked. Yes. I love dihedras, that's what I started calling them. My favorite is psychology, maybe. What else do I like? French. I'm not the best French speaker, mostly mute. I can say hello and good-bye. About two minutes later, I can't hold a conversation after two minutes.
Q. Is all your homework done?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no.
Q. Don't tell your dad.
VENUS WILLIAMS: He knows. I told him I wanted someone to help me with my geometry. I missed a midterm from playing the Evert Cup. I had to study all night for it yesterday, like three hours. It was all multiple guess, so it was great.
Q. How are you finding balancing school and tennis now, within the couple tournaments that you're in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It all started when I was at Evert Cup. I went and watched every match. I stayed in the lunchroom too long. When I got in, I watched TV. I admit it. If I deny it, it would just lead back to that cycle. I know it's true. I want everyone to know I did this.
Q. Now I'll ask you, where are your books?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I put myself in this whole situation, so.
Q. Are you playing doubles here with your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I wish we were. Doubles is the best with her.
Q. I'm sorry?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I said doubles is the best with her.
Q. Who would you play mixed doubles with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't have a partner.
Q. Who would you play mixed doubles with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.
Q. Who is like your favorite ATP Tour player? Who would you pick?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wouldn't pick, because right now I'm not the best doubles player. Serena and I are good doubles players. I have to pull it together more. I haven't played doubles hardly all at all. When we went and played at Evert Cup, we didn't have experience at all. We just played. We barely played ten sets of doubles. I'm going to pull it together, and that way I'll pull my serve together and things like that. Then I can think about getting a mixed-doubles partner. Serena can accept my mistakes, but the other person doesn't know me.
Q. How do you feel about your momentum, a lot of confidence coming off the last tournament, doing so well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I think anyone gets a lot of confidence after they play very well in a tournament. I think that's definitely a plus for this tournament.
Q. Did you feel really good coming off of that tournament, feel real pleased?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt really great, especially about the doubles.
Q. Even the loss to Lindsay, did you feel really good about how you played, though?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt good about how I played pretty much.
Q. What phases of your game do you want to improve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely want to make my serve more consistent, some technical problems that I refuse to fix. They want to stay a part of me, like little demons. I'm going to get rid of them, though. There's a lot of things. I don't want to talk about that at this time.
Q. Why? I noticed before the match you were warming up with Serena. Is that is that a confidence builder? Does that relax you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Usually I'm pretty relaxed before I play a match. Yeah, we always have fun, laugh, talk, whisper.
Q. Does it feel different playing doubles with her than playing singles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Against each other?
Q. When you play with her versus playing alone.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, it's a different. Especially with Serena, it's kind of like a team sport. I never played a team sport like basketball or volleyball or things like that. It's something like a team sport. We don't even have to talk too much because we've known each other so long. It's a lot of fun. It's a difference. Singles is a lot of fun, too, but it isn't as much verbose.
Q. Are you looking forward to her playing singles also in a tournament, that way you guys can support each other?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. We've already told each other, if we come against each other, it's each woman for their own. I don't want to lose, she doesn't want to lose. I don't know when she comes on the court when I play against her, who is she? We've already discussed these things. I'm going to be glad when we play singles together. We'll have built-in hitting partners. We probably won't always play the same tournaments.
Q. Are there big differences at this stage between the two of you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, big differences. I would say Serena is more aggressive, more willing to come to the net. I'm willing to come to the net, but not always in the first round. I think that's something I need to get over. Especially if I play against more someone like in the Top 20. I don't know what she was ranked. Anyone know? Usually I'll come to the net more. Serena, she comes to the net, serve and volleys, returns the volleys, does everything all the time.
Q. Who are the coaches that have given you the foundation for your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My mother and my father gave me everything I've got.
Q. Your mother is a tennis coach?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah.
Q. What are the coaches that you're working with now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The coaches?
Q. Do you have one or two coaches right now that you're working with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just one, yeah. Usually I don't get too much coaching anymore. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It just depends.
Q. Who do you work with now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I work with my father and sometimes I work with Dave Rineberg, see him. Some days I really need a lot of coaching, a lot of talking. Sometimes it's irritating, but you need to hear it. I usually say nothing. I don't have fits like most people do, like some people I know. Some days I don't get much coaching at all, so those are my coaches.
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