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August 29, 1997

Venus Williams

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. What was the key to today's match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: This time I was really ready. The last time I played her, I really thought I was going to win, but I didn't pull that one out. This time I felt the same way also. Not because Anke isn't a good player. I was just feeling good about it is way I was playing. I sort of believe in me. I'm not trying to take anything away from Anke because she's playing good tennis. She's taking out big people these days. She's playing Top 10 tennis. She has a Top 10 ranking. She's doing well.

Q. Do you think she really played Top 10 tennis tonight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think she let the pressure get to her. I ran down a lot of balls. When I returned them, they weren't always deep. If I'm not going to get to the ball, I won't run for it. If I run for it, I intend -- I know I'm going to get to that ball. If you see me running for the ball, you know I'm going to be there. If I'm not going to run for it, I'm not going to get it, so why run?

Q. Are you surprised at your success so far here in the Open? Are you surprised with your age at your success here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I know I can play well. A lot of times I just don't play well in the matches. A lot of times I'm just not able to pull it out, not able to stay calm, not able to stay focused. I make a lot of mistakes, which I did for about a two-game period in the first set. But I just had to bear down and say, "Man, I can't do these things. Time when you have to move on. It's a time when these things have to stop." I said, "Venus, it's foolishness." I became aware of my surroundings (laughter). No just kidding.

Q. Is this the beginning of a trend for you? Do you think this is a good stepping stone?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's definitely a beginning. I think I'm just going to stay focused, play hard on every point, every match, because everyone's really going to be ready. It's not like those people go out there and they don't want to win. They do, just as much as everyone else does. So have you to be ready.

Q. How exciting for you is this? Has that the most excited you've been after a win? You looked thrilled?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. I've had other wins. I had wins when I was down match points. One time I was down like 5-1. Lots of things been happening this year. Definitely probably when I won my first match, I was pretty happy. Maybe when I played doubles with Serena, three set epoch match. I was pretty happy about that, too.

Q. Venus, can you reflect in the first set, I think the game score was 2-2, and you were up Love-40 and you lost the game. What thought process did you go through at that point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm really not one of those players who gets angry after a game like that. I really don't go back in time. You know, some players, they can't stop thinking about that game, can't stop thinking about it. I'm really not that type of player. I just kind of move on because it's in the past; nothing I can do about it. I have to move on. So I just was staying calm, and I had to just play well and just not let up, because she's been out there a long time playing matches, and she really will take an advantage and run away with it if given the chance. So I just have to stay in there.

Q. Did you sense she was getting angry at herself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's the type of player that gets angry. I think most players are like that. I'm just not like that.

Q. Venus, she was pretty disappointed in here. She said she didn't necessarily think your performance was anything special. She was just more disappointed in hers. How do you feel about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would have to agree, because I don't think I played as well as I could. She didn't make me play a lot of long points. A lot of times she missed the shot, things like that. Missed a lot of shots in the net, a couple double the faults on some key points, so I think it was a lot of her that helped me win that match. She wasn't as consistent as the last time I played her. She didn't play as well this time. I know she probably can play better.

Q. In general, do you detect any kind of hostility from older players toward younger players? And if so, how do you detect it? What do you pick up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: These things do not matter to me. Everyone has to have their own opinion. I can't change the way someone feels. I just kind of have to move on in my own life. I can't get involved in other people's lives to that degree.

Q. But do you pick up on it at all? Are you aware of it out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I mean, I can't change the way someone feels if there's angry or hostile or jealous. I think if people feel this way, what they should do is go out there and say, "I'm going to pull my game together."

Q. Do you think that you're making a statement here at this Open, particularly you and Martina?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You can kind of see the changing of the guards in the men's game and women's game. Younger players are coming in. Even all the other younger players, even if you haven't heard too much of them. You played a player, you never heard of them, here they are, 16, 17 years old. So the younger players are coming in, taking over. It's just a natural thing, it's what happens.

Q. When you came out on the court to serve out the match, the crowd really was cheering pretty hard for you. Did that do something to you when you heard that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It helps, I suppose. But I just wanted to serve well, like I've been serving the whole time, just get some first serves in. It's kind of hard to handle the first serve.

Q. She implied one of the reasons she lost or that you won tonight was there was not enough pressure on you, there was more pressure on her than there was on you. How much pressure do you feel every time you come out on the court here? Do you want to tell us about how the pressure affects you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it depends on how much you let it get to you. Obviously people talk, write, show things on TV. You have to play for yourself, not for because -- I don't want them to write bad things and things like that, so I just have to go out there and play, because I want to play, because I want to do well, because I worked hard all might have life for this.

Q. Are there pregame jitters before you come out on the court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, no. I was ready to play.

Q. Venus, a lot of people have compared you to Althea. Recently I read something that you had said. What kind of influence does she have with you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What kind of influence does she have with me?

Q. Is there any influence? Has she influenced you? Have you studied her game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have not seen any of her games. I think she has influenced me and other black players in an intangible way. Not actually she talks to me or she writes letter, but more or less she paved the way for the African Americans and a lot of minorities to come in and play tennis and to be able to do well. So she was there from the beginning. She was a forerunner. It was mostly I suppose in an intangible way that she influenced me. And I think to live up to what she did would be great.

Q. Congratulations on your win. If you could talk to her, would you like to do that?


Q. There's been a lot of talk recently about how tennis needs a Tiger Woods to stimulate interest. Do you see, if you have a run of Championships or great showings, that you could possibly be something like a Tiger Woods for tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's possible. He's obviously doing a great job, in golf. I can't play golf (laughter). I mean, I really just can't. I just can't play golf, that's all there is to it.

Q. But by the style of your play in tennis, and also your enthusiasm, do you see the possibility of you being a source of invigoration for the sport?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would hope so, that I could do the same thing in tennis that he has done. Mostly because he's out there winning, he is something different from the mainstream golfer. In tennis, I also am. I'm tall. I'm black. Everything's different about me. Just face the facts. So I think that's why I would really have a chance, because I'm just something totally different than has been around, which I can't help that I am.

Q. Do you enjoy the fact that you're different from what's out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I mean, I've always liked what I had.

Q. What was the greatest win this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, every time I win a match, I'm pretty happy.

Q. But surely, this is your biggest win of the year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah. Honestly, I would have to say when Serena and I had a doubles match, we were playing the No. 8 seed in that tournament, too.

Q. And you were more happy then?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It was great. That was just the best match. It always goes back to that doubles match.

Q. When was that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That was early this year, in March, Indian Wells. We didn't really know how to play doubles. We were playing -- we were two separate singles players playing singles, and the other team were playing doubles. We both were playing singles. It was weird.

Q. Who was your partner?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena, my sister. She couldn't play this year. She's 15.

Q. Venus, when you look at the bracket, there's not another ranked player on your way to the semifinals. Do you have any predictions about how far you want to go or how far you think you can go in this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: These days, I'm just taking it one point at a time. I don't want to get too ahead of myself. I don't want to be saying, "Yeah. Yeah. I can do this and that." These things I know I can do. When I go out there, I want to play the player. I want to be ready for the match. I don't want to look past any player and say, "I'm looking past this girl because I know I can go through her." It's not going to be like that. I want to be ready for each player that comes along, so I'm not making any predictions, I'm just going to be ready to play.

Q. Every great athlete has a challenge that they have to overcome. What was yours that you had to overcome to get to this point in your career?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would lose the second a lot. Win the first, lose the second, struggle in the third. That's a pattern.

Q. It is?


Q. How do you see yourself breaking that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really broke it a lot. My first match this year, Indian Wells, my first tournament, I did the whole tournament, I had to work on it, stay focused, not let them back in, not get unfocused. I had to work on that. It's very much better. I really haven't done too much losing the second set ever since then.

Q. Was today, winning that fourth game of the second set, was that the turning point of the whole night?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just knew I would have to break serve or go to a tiebreak. I really wasn't interested in losing my serve (laughter).

Q. Do you have any goals for yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Goals? My goal this year was to be in the Top 20. Most of all I want to be able to develop my game, not to go out there and play timid, not to look back at this year, any year, at all, say I should have done something.

Q. You seem so serene. What gets you angry or emotional in tennis or in life?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My dog won't listen to me. I have one bad dog.

Q. Do you get emotional on the court at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. In practice every now and then, I might get upset. But I'm just not that type of player.

Q. Stats said in the second set that you committed a total of seven unforced errors in this match. Is that natural that you're so consistent?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my, no. I'm really the unforced error kid most of the time.

Q. Seven in the second set.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Usually I'm making all those errors, going for those shots prematurely. I'm usually all the unforced errors I can get. I just grab them and put them in my bag.

Q. What part of your game do you still have to work on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I want to place my shots a little bit better. Today a lot of times I was on the run. I would hit some balls to her. But the thing was, if I was going to hit it to her, I decided I had to hit it deep, so she had to back up.

Q. Do you really think that you are so out of mainstream for us? You are another young American coming up.

VENUS WILLIAMS: What are you saying?

Q. You said you are not in the mainstream player. Do you really think so? Your game seems to us another young American, like with Capriati or who else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm kind of like a power player, all power, big serve, big groundstrokes. If I wanted to, I could come to the net, which I don't do often. I'll have to work on that. I'm pretty fast. Most tall people aren't fast. If you hit a dropshot, I'm going to get to it. Just want to tell you guys that. When you play me, don't hit any dropshots.

Q. Venus, you say you're sort of calm. On a scale of 1 to 10, after this match, how excited were you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd probably say like a 7. I've been more excited, like after I won my first French Open match, the doubles match.

Q. When are you going to play doubles this time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably tomorrow. I haven't looked at the schedule. We were rained out yesterday. The court we were on, they didn't finish till like 11, two matches. We're on tomorrow.

End of FastScripts….

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