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September 2, 1997

Venus Williams

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. You were down 4-1 in the second and refused basically to give up the set. Talk about that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was actually about two breaks down so I really had to concentrate, hold serve and break back. So I just had to concentrate there and I proceeded to win four games in a row. Then she won her serve; then I held serve; then I broke serve. I guess, the second set summary. I really didn't want to go three sets. I thought it was definitely plausible that I could come back and win that one.

Q. How does it feel to be in the semifinals?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel pretty good. Actually I really don't know how it feels. I think after the tournament is gone I have to settle in. I just kind of feel like I have played five matches and here I am in the semifinals.

Q. The chin-up you did afterwards, running over to your mom, a little bit higher than you thought?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, because --

Q. Piece of cake?

VENUS WILLIAMS: With my arms up I am like, you know, couple more feet higher. So it kind of helped.

Q. You say you don't know how you feel. But the way you celebrated, your biggest smile, everything you did after the match finished, shows how you feel.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, I am feeling very happy. But, it is definitely a great accomplishment for my first Open.

Q. Does this far surpass what your goals were coming in? What were your goals coming in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My goal coming in was not to lose one bead during a match. (laughter) So I definitely didn't meet my goal and I am kind of upset on that. I am going to work harder in the next tournament.

Q. Is that an omen now that you lost?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't believe in omens, so that just definitely isn't a thing.

Q. You seemed to take a lot off your serve to go for some placement. Can you talk about that maybe slowing it down a little bit, serving really well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just wanted to mix it up, because a lot of times I could put in a lot of big serves and the girl can get into a rhythm blocking them back, which is simple to do at times. Sometimes she wasn't handling the spin that well. And I can put a lot of spin on a serve, so it is good to mix it up, see something different every time.

Q. Can you describe what it is about your game that forces more experienced players to get nervous, sometimes tense up and get out of their games?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think you would have to ask them, more or less. I really don't know what they are feeling out there.

Q. We have asked them. They don't seem to know. Maybe you have an idea.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I really haven't even thought about that. I mostly kind of just concentrate with my game, what I am going to work on during the match, during practice. So, I am not really thinking about what the other player is thinking. Sometimes it is important. You might notice that the player is tired or they are nervous, but, more or less, I am concentrating on what I am doing.

Q. Did you notice that at all tonight or at all during this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she was a little bit nervous, always taking a lot of deep breaths. I, too, was taking deep breaths, which calms you down. But, I think that she does that a lot during her matches. So, it is kind of a regimen for her to do it between every point.

Q. Have you felt yourself getting better match to match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, this match, I don't think I played as well. I think my best match was my third round match. I want to get back up to that level, but I definitely think I am playing okay. I have been playing pretty good.

Q. Do you think you're thinking your way through the matches better?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Much better than I have in the past.

Q. Have you been speaking everyday to your father and do you expect him to come for the weekend?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have been speaking everyday to him, yeah, I have. When is the semifinals match? Is it Thursday?

Q. Friday.

VENUS WILLIAMS: So I have three days. I thought it would be Thursday.

Q. What are you going to do the next couple days?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I am going to eat (laughter).

Q. Fish and chips?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Not fish and chips, come on. I am going to eat at the same places I do every time. I can eat somewhere -- I can eat the same thing for like a month. It is weird. I don't know. But, I am not going to do too much. My mom wants to see the Statue of Liberty, so we might do that. But, I don't know. It is kind of a job. It's a great job, of course, that I have, so I kind of concentrate on the job that I am doing and just try to do a lot of resting; not too much walking, because walking can be tiring around the city.

Q. Have you seen much of New York?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. We live like in a crowded area. All New York is crowded, of course, but super crowded over by the Times Square, all types of things going on. So, I am really not going out as much now.

Q. They are recognizing you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, and I don't really want to stop in the street, really. I really don't want to say no because I am really not a mean person, but I don't want to leave that impression not signing autographs....

Q. You say you don't think too much about the opponents when you go into a match. Is it your style to force the action no matter who the opponent is? And can you describe how you do that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To force the action. What action?

Q. To force the other player into mistakes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It used to be the time when the other person forced the mistake. And I was not quite able to understand that I didn't have to go for winners or I didn't have to always just expect to hit a winner. And, fortunately enough, I was able to understand this and in a small amount of time. A lot of people, it takes them years. And, it could have been four years later when I was 21. I would still be pretty young. But it is a long time in tennis so, I have been able to understand more or -- a lot quicker than a lot of people. And I am pretty happy about that.

Q. Was there a particular match or instance that convinced you have that -- that flashed that in your mind that you can do that?


Q. That you should mix it up a little bit, not just go for winners?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was third-round match actually. I never -- before that I really never took too much pace off the ball, a lot of hard balls and in that match, I think I just started doing it in practice automatically. Mostly because Serena does it quite a lot. She will take the pace off the ball and place it. I was not good at that. I kind of looked at her and learned it. It took me a while because she just takes advantage of me taking the pace off the ball and I had to learn -- I think I learned it from her.

Q. In practicing for your third round match here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it just clicked. Some things happen like that.

Q. A lot of people wouldn't try new things in the middle of a tournament. They would wait until they got out of the tournament and maybe try something weeks or months later. Can you talk about being confident enough to try something new right away?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because it works and it is really not too big of a change. Change your game little bit, take some pace off the ball a little bit, makes sometimes your job a little bit easier. And, it wasn't something extremely drastic. Sometimes changing your toss can be drastic, or getting a deeper knee bend. It just kind of -- you have to change your timing, so something like that is drastic and is something I would wait on. But, taking the pace off the ball, placing it, I have been working on that and I wasn't able to get it too good. It just wasn't part of my game in the past.

Q. Can you share with us why your father didn't come this time and why he hasn't come to the Slams? Is there a strategy behind that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You will have to ask my mom. I really don't want to answer that question. Just like fatigued of answering it, you know?

Q. No matter what happens in this tournament, from here on in, it is obviously going to be remembered as the tournament where you arrived and carved your name on a wall. Has it been fun to be the surprise of the tournament, to surprise people? I know you are not surprised, but has it been fun to be that surprise?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, actually, it has been because a lot of people weren't quite sure about my game, I suppose. Because, obviously, I hadn't played that well in tournaments. I wasn't playing well when it came to matches. I wasn't playing as well as I could and I wasn't playing good matches, so people would say that Venus is a questionmark. They had the right to think that, I suppose. But I always knew that I could play well. So this is definitely probably a turning stone for other people.

Q. You know that now you won't be able to take people quite so much by surprise from here on in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it really doesn't really matter to me. I am going to have to concentrate on my game more than what the person is thinking.

Q. Before you were talking about the change in your strategy, taking pace, mixing it up. Can you describe the results that you have gotten with that and what you have seen, the effect on the opponent, and how maybe you have gained confidence in that strategy?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't have to -- I didn't feel as pressured to just hit a lot of great shots, to hit them on the line. I saw once I was getting them in play a lot of times, not slow balls, but just deep, well-placed, then it puts pressure on the other girl, on my opponent to do something better and that is the game that I really hadn't played before. So, it is definitely is working.

Q. Is Serena happy that you are able to now use her own weapons against her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't use it too well against Serena. Serena -- there is fast and very fast and too fast for your own good health and she is on that level.

Q. Who wins between the two of you the most?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Right now we haven't played in a long time. But it definitely will be extremely close. We almost played actually in one tournament, but it didn't happen. Almost played in the first round, but it just didn't happen.

Q. What is going to happen when you guys have to compete against one another?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It is just going to be throat-to-throat, I guess. We both -- we have already discussed this and we said, you know, Serena says: "I am going to try to take you out." I say, "Serena, I am going to have to get you, too." So we definitely discussed it. We both are going to try to win when we play each other.

Q. What was it you were handing out to the crowd after the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was my beads. They fell out.

Q. They fell off?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. They fell off, so I just gave them away.

Q. Not on the court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They fell off on the court.

Q. While you were playing?


Q. Isn't that kind of dangerous if you could step on it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. They were so little. Thanks

End of FastScripts….

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