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August 31, 1997

Venus Williams

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Joannette says you're confident. She said she's never seen such self-confidence.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm glad she sees that in me.

Q. Yesterday Lindsay said when you were at Indian Wells, you passed each other, and you didn't smile back to her, and she got upset when you did not smile back.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Wait a minute. Are you talking about passing on the court?

Q. No, Venus. I'm talking before your match. Just bear with me a moment.


Q. Take a moment to explain. She got a little peeved by that, and that motivated her. Then today, Ms. Kruger said that when you smiled at her at one of the changeovers, she said that that was a sign that you were saying, "Hey, this is all you can do? This is all the arsenal you have? "

VENUS WILLIAMS: I smiled at her at one of the changeovers?

Q. That's what she said. Do you recall smiling at her at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It was an amused look.

Q. Pardon?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I really wasn't smiling. I was (indicating). Why don't you guys tell me what they want me to do? They should come up to me and say, "Venus, I want you to smile so I can feel better." It's not about that. When I want to smile, I'll smile. If I don't want to, I'm not going to. I think it's a little bit peevish. Smiling, what does that have to do with anything?

Q. Do you think people are finding reasons to nitpick at you right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't care. They have feelings and they can feel whatever way they want to, but I don't want to be part of it.

Q. To be fair, she said that you had tremendous confidence, and that was a tremendous attribute of yours. That was her essential -- what she was essentially saying. Do you feel that's one of your greatest strengths, your confidence?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Because I just kind of feel that I can make any shot anywhere on the court. That's just the way I feel.

Q. The day before yesterday, I believe, you answered my question about Challengers. You said that second set was always the challenge that you had to overcome. You almost cracked in this second set.


Q. You didn't think so?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was much tougher, but I wasn't cracking, no. She definitely pulled her game together, definitely started taking her time a little bit more on the shots, getting them a little bit deeper, placing them a little bit better. So I was running over the court more in the second set. I guess I didn't think she would start playing that well, so I just had to get ready for that.

Q. So you were never concerned about that second set, you knew you had it?


Q. You said the confidence comes from knowing you have the shots. How old were you, do you think, or how young were you, when you really started feeling that way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always felt that way. I always felt that I could beat like the men players. My parents could never get me to understand that I couldn't. I was like, "Look at my backhand, it's better than theirs." Finally they stopped trying to convince me I wasn't better. I guess they thought, "If she thinks that, it's better."

Q. Is that you in general or is that in tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's me in general, yeah.

Q. How much do you enjoy others recognizing that confidence in you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think it's important that others recognize the confidence in me or believe in me. What's important is that I'm confident about me, and that I believe in me. What others believe is kind of an outside influence, outside. If I don't have confidence, then it doesn't matter if the other person has confidence in me.

Q. But it seems you really have an effect on your opponents. In fact, Joannette Kruger, who is 23 years old, said just by watching your confidence and the panache that you had on the court, she was psyched out.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's her state of mind.

Q. Do you feel as though you psych out other players with your approach?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

Q. What's your belief?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not sharing those today.

Q. Venus, how much has your game improved from the time you started the US Open till now with matchplay experience?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I've improved a lot more because I've actually in between this US Open. I've learned to take my time on a lot of shots. Actually, today I started going back to my old way a little bit in the second set, rushing things, behind the baseline hitting balls as hard as I can. These things do not work. So I must change.

Q. Is that why you slowed down toward the end?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I cannot go back to that and I will not revert to that type of playing. This US Open has really helped. I'm taking my time a lot more on the shots. I'm serving much more consistently. I really want to mix up my serve as lot, a lot of free points on serves. I'm playing better at the US Open. I'm playing well, improving. But then when I get to a matches, I'm not playing well. What's the point of playing good if you're not going to play good in a match? I had to improve on that.

Q. When did you realize that style of play, you didn't want to go back to that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's like if you're just going to pound every ball, everybody is going to get used to it and say, "I'm going to block it back and let her wear herself out." I'll get tired at times after I play a lot of matches, but it doesn't generally affect my play. I live in Florida. It's extremely hot; the wind will not blow; it's extremely humid. Even the dogs don't get up. I'm out there playing on the hardcourt, okay? I can stay out there. I had to realize I had to mix it up, take some pace off, lift it over. Sometimes you would serve a ball, I would lift it over the net, she would just miss it. A lot of times -- a lot of other times in the past, I would nail the return in the net.

Q. Was there any tournament in particular that you said, "That's enough"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It was actually before my third round match. I really couldn't believe it. I was saying, "Venus, this isn't me." I just learned a lot in this tournament.

Q. Do you have a different game plan for each match? I thought I noticed in the Coetzer match -- the other match, who am I thinking of -- Huber match, that you were hitting a lot to her forehand. Maybe I'm wrong. That's what I thought I noticed.

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's making some mistakes on her forehand when I played her. I would serve to her forehand. She would just make some unforced errors.

Q. Were you saying, "I'm going to hit to her forehand," maybe today, "I'm going to hit to her backhand"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. Sometimes she would make mistakes, I would go to it two or three times, then I would go to the other side. But generally I didn't play both sides because she definitely had solid groundstrokes; she knows how to pick her game back up. I just had to play.

Q. Is this a milestone today, making the quarterfinals for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you mean by "milestone"? In my life? An important event in your playing history. I suppose so. I guess it is important, I've got into the quarterfinals.

Q. Do you think you'll win this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I try to go into every tournament and think that I'm going to win. That's what I used to do. Now I more or less try to play every point at a time. I don't want to try to think too far ahead in the future, because that really doesn't work, I don't think.

Q. How much fun has this week been for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's been a lot of fun, except for that day when it rained and I had to wait here all day. Other than that, things have been good.

Q. Joannette said she was intimidated by playing in the stadium. Have you ever felt anything like that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I like it. I always liked it. I liked it when I was little when I wasn't professional. I always liked to play on big courts in front of people. It's kind of my asset.

Q. The fact that the audience was with you today, does it matter for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The fact that the audience was for me?

Q. Yes. Does it matter for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've actually never played in an audience that wasn't for me. One day, the day will come when they are going to be for the other player. I'll be prepared for that.

Q. Do you draw energy from that or does it really not affect you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think I'll be able to tell you guys on the day they're rooting for the other player.

Q. Now that you've gotten, you said that you've gotten this experience in this tournament, does it make you wish you had more matchplay in your past at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm definitely playing well. I've learned a lot from the matches that I've played. I know how to play. That's good enough.

Q. You made it through the second week here, which is a great accomplishments for many players, just to get to the second week. How would you summarize what you've achieved so far at the Open?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Gotten to the quarterfinals in the second week.

Q. Does it mean anything more than that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Does it mean more than that? It means I better be ready for the next match.

Q. Venus, do you think your performance, to a sense, validates all the attention that you've been getting before putting up results like this?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess for some people it does; not for me. I know I can play this type of tennis. But for some people, critics, writers, all those type of things, it validates it for them. But I try not to read that stuff and listen to the stuff, because it can get to you. Some people are not necessarily negative, but they say Venus is a big question mark, things like that. You don't really want to read that. Oh, no, I better play better. That's not the kind of thoughts you want in your head, so I kind of try to stay away from them.

Q. Did you look at this as an opportunity to do that or is that just the way things have kind of happened for you this week?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really wasn't going to play the Open up until four days before. My dad wasn't going to let me play. But I finally convinced him.

Q. Why not?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Why not? A lot of different reasons. I don't really want to go into that.

Q. What helped you convince him?

VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bargaining. Hard ball, you know.

Q. Now that you've gotten this far, little more leverage now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I'm just glad I got a chance to play. I think my dad is, too. But even if I didn't do well, I think I'd be glad I got a chance to play.

Q. Do you like the idea that you're becoming an idol or world model?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Do I like the idea that I'm becoming an?

Q. An idol.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't consider myself an idol. I don't consider anyone an idol, too far on a pedestal. But a role model is definitely a good thing.

Q. In a single word, how would you describe your game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In a single word? Those are the good questions, but it's just like you don't think of that in everyday living.

Q. Would you consider "powerful" as one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You could say that. Things have definitely changed over this Open. I've learned to take some pace off the ball, which I really was not good at before.

Q. How do you explain your loss yesterday to those two fairly old women in the doubles?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They knew what we were doing; we didn't. That's just all it was. Serena and I, we thought we were going to win, we were confident and all, but we just lacked the practice. We didn't practice for the doubles. It's just the last time we played doubles and we did so well, we just thought we were going to hold down, I guess. We learned from our mistakes, so we're going to pull it together. The girls, they knew how to play doubles. We really didn't know how. Definitely after yesterday's loss -- I didn't think I would do bad in the singles. I knew that I just don't know how to play doubles that well. That's all that was. We could play, but.

Q. Venus, you seem very sort of non-plused by making it to the quarterfinals. Are you excited about this? Is this a big deal?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm excited, I have to stay calm and get ready for the next match. I'm going to play one of two players who are playing well. Testud is doing well this year, definitely has picked up her game. She's feeling confident. Habsudova, I don't know too much about her. She's in the Round of 16, so she's definitely been doing something.

Q. What is your favorite part of New York City? What have you enjoyed the most about New York, coming here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe when I go places, maybe all the restaurants. Good to eat somewhere different every day. When we go overseas, kind of scared to eat different foods. Finally got over it now. We would eat like Chinese every day in England and France. In England, we had fish and chips. Other than that, I mean, it's not the way I would have cooked it (laughter).

Q. Too greasy or not greasy enough?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just that it wasn't seasoned the way I would do it. I would have did it differently. Of course, I don't cook unless I'm forced to. There's a hunger strike going on, my mom won't cook. Doesn't take as much as it used to. I guess I don't cook because I don't want to clean.

End of FastScripts….

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