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September 5, 1997

Venus Williams

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. How does it feel, Venus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: When I first won, it was like I was so happy because it was a long match, we both worked so hard for it. Luckily, I came out the winner. I was really happy. I'm pretty happy now. I'm just getting over it, so. Just moving on, moving on.

Q. Did you think coming into the US Open that you had a chance to win it or even get to the final?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm really not sure what I thought. I mean, it's so long ago. I just wanted to come here and play well and play like I could. And today, I think I played much better. Not much better, but it's just that I was playing much more what I practice on. I was coming to the net more instead of camping out at the baseline, just holding camp. I came to the net much more. That's really something I wanted to do. If you can't do it in the big matches. I need to do that, especially with my height. I have good volleys. It's not like I didn't have any. So I was just happy about that.

Q. 4-3 in the second set, at the changeover chair, you and Spirlea bumped into each other. She was pretty upset about it when she was in here, put the blame on you for the collision. What was your view of it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I'm not having any injuries from that bump (laughter). I think we just both weren't looking. I think we both were just concentrating on trying to stay in the match and trying to win the match. I mean, I really wasn't even thinking about that. So I'm sorry she feels that way. It's not really a big thing to me.

Q. Anybody say, "Excuse me"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. No one said, "Excuse me."

Q. Venus, in the third game of the third set, you double-faulted three times. You faced breakpoints. Do you recall that as a low point? Were you a little tired perhaps mentally and physically at that stage?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't tired. I think that maybe I was letting down a little bit. I said, "I just can't keep losing serve like this." So I just held strong.

Q. But it was a let down point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And plus, like the wind was blowing my toss around. I didn't bother to retoss it up again. I should have done that. I should have just threw up another toss.

Q. Venus, you were consulting notes on changeovers. Was that match strategy or something else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Those are just reminders, bend your knees, someone tells me to do that. Sometimes I tend to strike a little bit flat. So I just write, "Get under the ball." Things like that. Little reminders. Plus most of all just keeps you focused on the match. In the past, I had a problem with staying focused.

Q. Venus, did you get a chance to call your dad after the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no, I wanted to. I just didn't have a chance to. I was going to.

Q. On TV you said the match was like a dream. What's been the sweetest part of the dream?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was, because, it was really a tough match, she had two match points. Somehow she just didn't win them. Somehow I didn't let her win them. Whatever way you want to look at it. I just came through. I'm going to have to evaluate these things after I leave the tennis center.

Q. What were you saying when you were match point down? What were you saying to yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, actually, what I -- no, wait.

Q. We won't tell anyone.

VENUS WILLIAMS: You'll just write it, right? Won't tell, though.

Q. Was this the best match you ever played? Let her answer the question. Wait, wait.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I was thinking about going home. I said, "This is not the right thing, Venus." I had to hold strong. She didn't put in a real big first serve. It wasn't like well placed. It just gave me a chance to get it back. I had to push those thoughts out of the way. "Venus, this isn't right. It's not over. She has to win a point to get the match." So I just stayed in there.

Q. What do you think about your chances against Hingis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think they're pretty good. I think I'm just going to go out there and play a match, just like I played today, just like I played the other days. She's going to do the same thing. You got to go out there and beat the person before you have the title. That's the way it is.

Q. Would you say that like a high-jumper, you won by half an inch? You raised one match point with your ball going on the line?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not understanding your question.

Q. I said, do you think you won because of half an inch, just because one ball of yours on match point went on the line?


Q. At the right moment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think I won by half an inch. No, no.

Q. Venus, ever since you were a little girl, I should say, and not playing the juniors, people have been wondering about you and waiting to see just how good you are. Do you feel likee right now you've shown that You've said everybody has to worry about themselves. Do you feel at this point that you've shown everybody just how good you are?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In the past, I really didn't worry about what other people thought because it was important what I thought, what my family thought. So I really didn't focus on that. Everyone has their own opinion. They're going to have it. I'm not going to change it. So I definitely knew that one day people would see, and I would just -- it would just be a little bit of time. I hadn't played that much. So, I guess this is just a great tournament for me. Maybe a fraction of the talk will stop.

Q. Do you feel a little bit better, though, about your chances against Martina compared to the first two times you played her? You have more experience since then.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. The first two times -- I mean, the first time I played okay. I didn't play that well. I wasn't able to just stay in there. She definitely played well. She didn't try to give me any points. The second time, I just gave it away. It was just giving. It was giving. It was her match to take. I don't blame her for taking it if I was going to give it.

Q. Did you realize, Venus, during the last tiebreak in the third set the support was given to you by the former Mayor of New York, Mr. David Dinkins, that was standing and trying to encourage you when you were 2-4 down?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Because, like, in my other matches, I would hear somebody behind me in that same area saying, "Break time, break time," things like that. Finally I looked up. Guess who it was? Dinkins. I was like, "Oh, my God." I finally figured out who it was. I would just hear the same, "Break time." I would say, "Yeah, yeah." I looked up today. "I'm going to figure out who this is."

Q. You had these two tiebreakers. If you hadn't been able to win, people might say, "She's not match tough, she hasn't put the years in on the junior circuit, she's not match tough mentally." Where do you get this from? Where do you have that if you haven't played as many matches?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think there's a lot of myths floating around. When I'm in practice, especially the last three, four weeks before the tournament, two or three weeks, whatever it was, I tried to stay focused in the match because a lot of times I wasn't doing that. I think a lot of people believe you have to be match tough and things like that. You just have to know how to play and you have to believe that you can do it. You just have to go out there and do it. So some people, they might need to be match tough. For others, I don't know. But I do agree that you have to play a little bit. I haven't had to play that much because I can tell you, like a year ago, like when I first started playing, I looked back and said, "I didn't know what to do." I just didn't know. But it hasn't taken me long to learn. Hasn't taken me many matches. A lot of people, it depends on who you are, how you look at it maybe.

Q. Your dad didn't want you to come here. Now you're in the Finals. Is that at the end of the story? You won the argument?

VENUS WILLIAMS: He didn't really want me to come, but I convinced him that I needed to be here, just like the Thursday four days before I left. So I got my practice in, worked hard, even though it was super hot and horrible. I'm glad I'm here. He's glad. It's not like I'm going to go and say, "I was right." He's not going to say, "I was wrong." Doesn't really matter.

Q. Why is your dad at home? Why did he stay home?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I answer that question like every time. I don't want to answer it anymore.

Q. I'm from Africa. Venus, do you realize what you've done for Africa today?


Q. I'm telling you, my dear, you've done Africa proud. We'd love to see you in the finals.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd love to see that, too.

Q. There's talk of waning tennis in the United States. Can you single-handedly pull together a new generation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think about those things when I play. I don't think about pulling tennis together, holding women's tennis up, whatever. That's your job. You guys say that. That's your job. It's not mine to think about. You guys are supposed to write it, make people interested. I'll leave it to you.

Q. No pressure or anything?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I play for myself.

Q. I meant on us.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's your job.

Q. Does Hingis, her game, her record, anything about her scare you or intimidate you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never been that type of person who is like scared, fearful. I can't let that hold me back. I won't. This is a chance of a lifetime, a tournament of a lifetime. I've done well. I wouldn't be angry if I didn't win. But I'm not going to go out there and be afraid, because fear holds you back. I won't let it happen.

Q. How much did you enjoy the pressure, the attention, the excitement of the late parts of this match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was just out there playing every point. I'm not the kind of player that looks back and remembers, "Oh, man, I could have closed it out," stuff like that. At one point it was actually 4-3, I was going to break. I thought it was 3-2. I looked up, said, "Oh, my God, it's 4-3." I thought it was 3-2.

Q. (Inaudible).

VENUS WILLIAMS: Irina, no. The first set, her forehand, she wasn't hitting. She was just playing, it was landing inside the service box, gave me a chance to attack it. Second and third set, she got out there and started striking it. On her slice, she'd have all that power.

Q. Venus, what are your favorite memories, one or two, from when you first started to play the game of tennis when you were very young?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My, I don't know. I don't think about that every day, so. What can I say? The first time I played a junior match, I was playing the 10. I was playing in a satellite. I was ready to play. Then I got a default. I was so sad, I think I started crying. I was like nine. Then everyone else realized how sad I was. My older sister started teasing and -- I don't know what they said. They started teasing me. I was so sad.

Q. Are any of your other siblings here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My sister Serena is here and my other two sisters from DC, they came up on the weekends for two weekends. Now they're going to come up again to see the Finals.

Q. Most of the match, or all the match, you displayed a very mature composure. Could you likely tell us who advised you about that? Where did you learn it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think it's just the way I am. A lot of players are cool and composed. Some players are fiery and angry. It's just me, I guess. I mean, a lot of times, like in the past, if I won a point or a game, I would start smiling. Kind of got unfocused. I had to quit the smiling for this moment now. Maybe in the future I can start doing that some more. Focused people come back on you. I don't know what hit me. In the future, I'll start smiling more. I did it like three tournaments ago. It wasn't working for me. I'd get unfocused. Now I keep my straight face.

Q. You said earlier it's not a good idea to dropshot you, because you're going to get those shots. Spirlea tried time and again. Were you surprised at that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She must not have heard me say it, I guess (laughter). I mean, I'm going to get the dropshot, that's all there is to it. I love people that hit dropshots on me.

Q. You have yet to win a set off of Martina Hingis. How different do you think you are from then and what will you do differently?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've learned a lot of things in this Open. I've learned to put more balls in play, not to go for winners so prematurely, not to rush things. I've learned a lot of things. Things are different. Doesn't matter, I'm going to be ready.

Q. The reality of you in the US Open, has that fully sunk in yet or does that come later on tonight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe later on tonight.

Q. Venus, do you feel that Althea Gibson may have had some influence on your playing the game or wanting to play the game in any way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I answered a question similar to this earlier this week. I said earlier that it's mostly something intangible.

Q. I must say, keep up the good work.


Q. Where do you get the inspiration?


End of FastScripts….

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