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March 22, 1997

Venus Williams


VENUS WILLIAMS: I finished nine out of 14 geometry assignments and nine out of the 13 chemistry assignments and I took a French test, English quiz. I was busy on Friday. I did that in like four hours. I didn't even have time to breathe. Fortunately enough, my teachers gave me till Wednesday to get it in instead of Friday. I'm allergic to bad grades. I was talking about how I couldn't get my work in the last time. We can start now.

Q. Venus, what turned this match around?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the first game you could tell that Jennifer was a little nervous, she was hitting some double-faults. Then I think in the fifth game when I went up 4-1 she hit some, too. She was a little nervous. She hasn't played that much in this year. Sometimes when you aren't used to being in a certain situation a lot, you do that. I was hitting some double-faults, too, in the beginning. Then she really took command and saw if I wasn't going to take control, she ought to have taken it. She was right. But I felt that when I'm down, I'm not one of the players that gets down on myself, to show my opponent what I'm thinking. I really try to stay real positive. I always think this isn't over, even when it's 5-1. That's mostly what I was thinking.

Q. Venus, were you surprised at the pace of her game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I mean, I remember that one match against Monica and Jennifer, and they both were striking the ball. She hits it hard consistently, over and over and over. I hit it hard, too, but not all the time like that. They were very deep also, and sometimes it would catch me off guard. I was having slow turns, just wasn't prepared for that. She was hitting them hard and deep consistently, all the time.

Q. You like that pace?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like to take it as it comes. I don't care.

Q. Venus, what's your first memory of her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Of her? I do remember her first round match, I think it was the Virginia Slims, Delray, Boca Raton. She played Gilda in the first round. Why do I remember that? I think that was her debut in 1990. I'm sure I probably remember a little more before that because she did a lot of stuff with juniors, I suppose. But I don't know.

Q. What do you think was the difference in the first set, came back?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'll have to think about that afterwards. I was putting some pressure on her, I was hitting the ball harder, a little more away of her. I think I took some of the short balls and put some pressure on her, came to the net sometimes. She had to rush her shots. I think I might have served a little better. I feel that she made a lot of mistakes also, and that helped all the time.

Q. What are your thoughts about Martina Hingis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My thoughts?

Q. The match coming up.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, uhm, I think it's going to be a good match. Look forward to playing her. She's been around town, in the world, globe trotting. I'm ready to play her, probably tomorrow.

Q. Do you think she has an edge because she has more time to rest than you have?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no. I can go on and on. I can go on.

Q. You seem to be very at ease today on the court. I think you hit one into the net and were actually smiling about it.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I try to smile some, even when it's a very serious time, like 5-1. There were a lot of 5-1's in that match today. I try to smile. Even when you don't feel like smiling. Smile, not because you're angry, but because you're intense, if you smile a little bit, the crowd is happy. No players really smile a lot. You're happy, you get more relaxed.

Q. Venus, can you imagine a match from tomorrow will be a match that you'll see over and over in the next couple of years, the two of you fighting to be the best players in the world?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no I think it will be my sister and I fighting to be the two best players in the world. I don't see that at all.

Q. Since she's No. 1, are you interested to see how you measure against her? Will you measure yourself and your progress?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I measure myself against myself. I would never measure myself against someone else. I feel that I'm the best, okay? That's just how I feel. Even if it wasn't true, that I can feel that way, it makes you play better, makes you have more pride about what you're doing, saying, "I'm the best player out here, why am I losing, pull it together." What was the question you asked?

Q. You answered it well.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I wanted to say something else, but I forgot the question.

Q. Since she's the No. 1 player, were you interested to see your progress, whether you measure it against the No. 1 player?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Because even tonight I didn't play anything like I can play. My serve, I thought it was terrible. Even though I was very happy with my second serve, even though it can be better, today I was hitting 60s. That's terrible. I can play much better than that. Jennifer, she was playing, she forced me to play. If she didn't play, I probably wouldn't have played. It's very sad but true. She went out there and she forced me to play.

Q. Did you have any expectations going into this match that kind of surprised you maybe playing against her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, I didn't have any expectations at all. I just wanted to come to the net more because the last match against Helga (sic) Nielsen, is that how you say it, I really wouldn't come to the net. You couldn't force me there if you put a gun to my head. I would have said, "No." It was very sad. Even tomorrow's match I'm going to try to come even more because obviously I'm a pretty good volleyer, have a pretty good touch, nice overhead. No need why I can't pull that out of the closet.

Q. Do you go to sleep with this (indicating)?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I go to sleep with this. It's very easy.

Q. In the second to the last serve, you served it pretty wide out, what were your feelings?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember. What happened?

Q. 40-30, you served out that wide serve.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember. I probably just went out and served it.

Q. There was a big smile on your face. You seemed pretty relaxed maybe, serving for the set. Did you feel yourself getting a mental edge over Jennifer as the third set went on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really notice myself getting a mental edge. A lot of times I've been up 4-1 and I managed to really blow it. Last week at Indian Wells, I was playing in Oakland against Brenda Schultz, I managed to find some way to lose. I didn't want to find that path again, I wanted to find the other one to the win. I think I was more or less focusing on me staying focused. Once I had her down, I guess the mental edge is what you're saying, for me just to go and run with it, take the torch or baton, whatever.

Q. For the second time in a row, you won the first set and lost the serve in the second set. Do you think there's a reason about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, my mind. It really is. I have to work on that. There's a lot of things I have to work on. That's what it is.

Q. Are you relieved that you play more tennis now, that's where you belong, to have more experience, matchplay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand the question.

Q. Do you play more?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Do I plan to play more?

Q. Now that you play more matches, tournaments, is it better, about time that you do this?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel it's about time I do that. Right now I feel ready to play more. About four days afterwards, you don't feel as excited, but a week after playing a tournament, I feel really excited and ready to go out and play again. I'm ready to play.

Q. Venus, you know a lot of comparisons have been drawn between you and Jennifer. Do you think beating her maybe validates the way you and your family have managed your career, to come along more slowly, build up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It probably isn't the path for everyone because everyone probably needs to go out there and play matches and get confidence. But as for me, it was a path. It just shows that there is an alternative way, rather than playing juniors, junior Slams, satellites, whatever they do, I wasn't there. It probably does. I wouldn't say beating Jennifer does that because Jennifer is obviously on her way back. You can see that out there today. She's doing real well. I don't think that beating her validates that.

Q. Did you yourself want to play? Was there ever a time when you were saying, "I wish I could be playing at the junior Wimbledon, nationals"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think the juniors are significant. I just don't think so. I mean, it makes a name for someone, if you do real well, when you come into the professionals. But it's a total different ball game.

Q. Just in terms of being around other players, the whole society of tennis that you're going to function in, did you ever wish you were kind of on the scene, to see who you would be playing against for the next couple of years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I could see it on TV.

Q. Do you ever feel nervous when you walk out onto a court, or the bigger the crowd, does that give you more encouragement?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like big crowds. I suppose everyone feels a little nervous sometimes on the court. Usually I try to hit through that or ignore. If you lose a match because you were nervous, at the end all you can say is, "I was nervous, I lost." That's a sad thing. I don't want to ever have to say that. It's different when you first start your career or haven't been there. Obviously, I haven't played that many matches. Under 30, there's no reason for that, I feel.

Q. Was there ever a time when you were at all impatient to get out here and try your stuff against the top Tour players?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Sometimes I'd be watching a match on TV thinking, "Man, let me get at it. I'll show them." I never was very uptight, breaking out, things like that.

Q. How did you become sort of a big critic watching others, seeing a shot, saying "She should have done this or that"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, I don't get into watching as many films as I'd like. I'm doing homework or other things. When I get free time, I don't necessarily want to watch films or watch tennis.

Q. What are your plans school-wise? Do you want to finish high school?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Do I want to finish high school?

Q. Yes.


Q. Do you want to go to college?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm taking some college classes. Unfortunately, I have a report that's due Thursday and I haven't even started. It was on a poll. I had to have the statistics and I lost that. I don't know what to do. It's going from worse to worse. I missed the midterm when I went to the Evert Cup. In freshman communications, I did terrible on that midterm. I just don't know what to say.

Q. What's terrible for you?


Q. What's terrible for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: When I don't know the thing that they're talking about. That really makes me sad. Losing a match, I can learn, but I can't get back to that test. One time I did bad on geometry, I got a 60. After math, I never cried. After that test, I did cry. I had to put my head down, "My God." The worst part, Serena started laughing, wouldn't stop for five minutes. That made it worse.

Q. What's your GPA? What's your average?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In high school I was like 3.75. I'm only taking two classes in college, political science, freshman communications. I really don't like all that writing. I don't know. You guys might like it (laughter). It's not for me. They're trying to tell me all these mistakes I had. It looked right to me.

Q. Is there a major that you're going to pursue? How does that work?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I plan on being an architect. I change my mind. Right now it seems like the right course.

Q. Have you graduated high school yet?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm getting there slowly but surely. Actually by the time May comes around, last year I burned out. I was crawling to the finish line, bleeding, dying, barely breathing. It was terrible last year. I could barely get all the work in. This year it seems like I haven't burned out at all, and it's almost April.

Q. What do you consider yourself in school, a junior, senior?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Last year I went to summer school, then I took extra classes throughout the semesters. I'm somewhat halfway down. Probably just have to do fall semester. Probably supposed to take three classes, but I'll go ahead and take five, go ahead and get more smarts in my head.

Q. Do you play in doubles?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, I play doubles. I play doubles with Serena. It's the best thing. We have fun out there, smiling, laughing. We have major league comebacks. We came back from 6-Love. One time we were down 4-2 in the tiebreak. It was crazy. We were having fun. We weren't that very experienced at doubles, but we'll get better. We're going to work on it.

Q. We know a lot of things about relation between you and your father. What about you and your mother?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay, uhm, my mom usually always getting on me how I'm not responsible and I'll get killed if I don't learn to get better. Things like not locking the door. I'm much better at that now. Usually, Serena and I are always teasing and laughing at her. We're always laughing together, usually always give her the car keys to drive so I can sleep. There's a lot of things. My mom and dad are always keeping Serena and I straight, always sitting us down and talking to us. I listen, try to do better. You don't always do better. Sometimes takes three years, but you get there.


VENUS WILLIAMS: Thanks y'all.

End of FastScripts....

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