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March 11, 1998

Venus Williams


Q. Venus, how much of your matches at this point is a competition with yourself, more than the other person?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm really getting so much better these days. I really know what to do with the ball, what to do with certain shots, what to expect from the opponent. I feel very comfortable on the court all the time. At this time last year my forehand wasn't so good, but now I'll hit when I get ready. So everything is coming into place.

Q. Venus, earlier today somebody suggested that the three most successful women on the Tour this year have been Hingis, Davenport and you. Does that sound about right to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that's about right. All of us have really been working hard to make women's tennis better. Hingis has won the Australian Open, Davenport has won a tournament in Tokyo, she got to the semifinals against me last week. I'm doing some things myself. I have three titles this year. That's pretty good.

Q. Can you talk about the presence of Steffi Graf in the draw? Does that mean anything to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that everyone is happy to see her back. She seems to be healthy. I really haven't seen any of her matches, but she seems to be playing well. I guess we all shouldn't put a timetable on her, expect her to do things. We just should be happy that she's back and healthy. Hope she doesn't leave again.

Q. Would meeting her along the way, the prospect of beating her along the way, mean more than just winning a tournament?


Q. Is that a step toward you becoming --


Q. -- becoming the player that you hope to eventually become?


Q. Well, assuming you're not there yet.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I am coming.

Q. Does beating her hold any portion or no more than anybody else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess she'll have to get to me or I have to get to her first. I think she has the Slam titles, 21 or so. I think that puts her on the board for people. You can measure yourself against that. But as for me, I just think it's most important to play the match, like any more match. I don't think it's important you go out there saying this person has so many Slam titles, they were this, they were that. You don't need to make them that big in your head. You should worry about you. I've never been that type of person. I think you should ask someone else.

Q. Aside from Serena, are you the type of person that likes to go out and watch the other players play? If so, who from the men or women do you like to watch?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Last year I was at every match. I would be sitting and watching. I really can't do that this year because if someone asks you for an autograph, they'll get angry if you say no. It's just sometimes you need a chance to sit down by yourself. I can't sit down and watch matches anymore. If I get to, I watch it on TV. Serena, she usually watches from upstairs. I haven't had a chance to. She didn't have to play singles this time because she was hurt. I'd have to be more rested, reclining, concentrating. Maybe if I would have done that more last year, I could have done better.

Q. Is men's tennis as much fun to watch as women's tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely, I think so. I don't always get the opportunity to watch it live. Women's tennis, of course I'm on this tour, so I get to watch it all. It's nice to take the opportunity to watch the men's. I wouldn't say it's more exciting.

Q. Did you watch the Haas game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Haas? I couldn't get there because I was practicing. I was the next match. It was third match and I was fourth match. I think Serena might have been there for two games.

Q. You've never, never lacked for confidence. But what was your feeling when you won at Oklahoma City? Did you feel like, "It's about time"? Was it kind of a relief that you had finally done it and gotten that step behind you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always felt -- I didn't think that I was behind schedule. Actually, I played nine tournaments on the Tour, three of the Slams. I hadn't played that many tournaments. I was just getting around the block. I was almost around. If I could just pass the finish line.

Q. Did you never come back to Compton in Los Angeles and meet some people, old friends there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Every year usually I play a tournament in LA. We see a lot of people that we used to know when we were there, visit a lot of places we used to practice. Still practice there sometimes. So it was good.

Q. Which is your feeling when you come back in that place which is so different now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, it's different now. I'm older. Things are a lot smaller than they used to be.

Q. You remember things different?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Then sometimes you look at people, they're doing the same things. You went on. Sometimes you can see things in the larger picture. I look at next year, I don't want to look at ten years right now.

Q. You said in an interview that one day you will be competing with your sister for the No. 1 ranking. How long that will wait?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I said that about this time last year. Everyone seemed to be a little upset over that. Venus isn't giving respect to the higher-ranked players, she should give more respect. I was not disrespecting them. I did not name any names. I simply told the truth. I myself am getting there. Serena, she's getting there. I think no one can dispute that now.

Q. Venus, was part of getting there beating Hingis in Australia?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think so. It was about time for me to put a mark on the calendar, on the board, because there had been too many times that I suffered the ignominy of defeat. It's terrible. There's only so many times I can lose to one person.

Q. What did you do to turn it around? Was it strategic or just effort?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, it was. All the other times I played her, I felt I had to do too much, hit winners and things like that. She's the type of player that waits for you to miss, places the ball, just waits for you to get that error. In that match, I decided not to miss anymore. She just kept waiting for me to miss, but I wouldn't do it. I wasn't planning to -- I've definitely gotten better since then.

Q. So you out-studied her essentially?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Essentially. It was a weird match.

Q. Venus, do you expect to win this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's the ultimate goal. Sometimes you don't want to get too far ahead of yourself. But if you ever get down, say, "Wait a minute, you're supposed to win this tournament, supposed to come back and win the game and the match."

Q. Venus, there was a story earlier, you said you're not going to play LA anymore. Is that right?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't I wasn't going to play LA. It's just not on my schedule now. It could be. I don't look so far ahead. Three months in advance usually, not much further than that.

End of FastScripts....

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