March 23, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. I wanted to ask you if you feel like the way the media portrays you or newspaper articles or TV, is that a very accurate portrayal or if you were writing a story about yourself, would you write it differently than what you're used to seeing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I believe if I wrote a story, the story would be filled with things that didn't make sense, a lot of jokes, a lot of foolishness, probably would not focus on tennis at all. I don't think I'd probably say anything about tennis. I probably would be introduced as a professional tennis player, go on from there. I believe in the past, when -- there were some very inaccurate articles. I believe everyone has come to the light now and have been able to see the reality. I think things have turned. I think that eventually will be a forgotten page in history.
Q. Do you feel more well received than you did at the time? Was that overblown that you didn't feel well received even then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think I was well received at all. I don't think people were able to understand or handle my and Serena's emergence as players and contenders on the Tour. Now that people have come to reality, are aware that we're going to play good tennis, I think things are different. We're friendly, Serena and I. We're happy. I think we're doing our best.
Q. Can you give us an idea of how it was to live in Los Angeles, to grow up in those parts of the city, and to move on now and to live a different life and look back?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I lived in Los Angeles when I was born till I was like 11. It didn't seem bad to me at all. I was little. It's where I lived, where I grew up. It was my place of residence. I was, I suppose, proud, if I can remember proud at that time. Now that I look back, I've come a long way since then. I'll be back to play a tournament back in LA, you see people doing the same things. You see how far you've come, that your whole family come, how you can see things differently on a much larger scale. That's when you can really see what you've done, just move on, just do better.
Q. Part of what you do is you make a lot of money. It's not the most important thing, but it's a part of it. Does it give you security? Does it give you perspective for your future long-term or is it not in the picture at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that generally you're able to live more comfortably financially, but you aren't always happy. I don't think money can make anyone happy. I think sometimes people think so, but in the end it's not so. To have a family, being happy doing what you're doing, having fun, those things. Most of all right now, I I'm trying to get my ranking together. I'm thinking about the points. I try to stop thinking about the points. At the end of the tournament I add them up. That's my goal.
Q. Would you address the term security in any way? Is there something like this for you in this world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think if I want something, I can have it. Usually I plan to get things. When I play well in tournaments, I get it after the tournament. If I don't think I played as well, if I didn't do the things I worked on in practice, then I don't get anything. I have to keep myself under control. That helps. For a while, I got out of control. I realized this and I came to my senses.
Q. How did you get out of control? What do you mean?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love jewelry. I just love jewelry. I would get a lot. I used to wear a lot, too. A lot on this arm, two on this one (indicating). I wear a watch on this one. If I go to Europe, I wear one watch here, one watch there (indicating). Now I have this. But I love jewels.
Q. Your father said the decision to move to Florida was mostly yours and Serena's. Why did you decide to move? Did you find what you were looking for?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that we visited Florida, we had a lot of fun practicing our tennis, liked it there. It was something new. Serena and I decided that we like this. My dad -- we were happy doing that, so that was best. My mom probably agreed, too. We probably wouldn't have went if she didn't agree.
Q. I guess you moved partly to come to the Macci Academy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, part of it.
Q. Did you get out of that experience what you wanted? What's your view on academy life, not necessarily that one?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I generally wasn't a part of the academy with a lot of the kids. Serena and I were doing our own thing. We weren't playing junior tournaments. I really don't know about really being in an academy, but I was around an academy.
Q. May I ask you about the school situation.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm finished. Oh, my gosh, I was reading an article. I was reading that this time last year in chemistry, I was nine assignments behind, and geometry I was 14 assignments. No more of that now. I don't feel anything on my shoulders.
Q. Finished high school?
VENUS WILLIAMS: High school.
Q. You can go to college right now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I could.
Q. Have you ever thought about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yes. I have my plans.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Can I reveal the future?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I have to take my SAT's. I haven't taken those yet. I've procrastinated. I had the form since October; I never did it. Real problems with that.
Q. Not intellectual problems?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It takes me a long time to get things done sometimes. You can go to the summer school terms, six-week terms. That's realistic for me. For me to go in the fall and spring wouldn't be so realistic. I think it would hurt my tennis game.
Q. Is there a struggle right now? Your father really emphasized education is very important.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've told him my plans. He's very happy with it. I was very happy, too, because I really want to go to college. My sisters go. I can see the benefits they're getting. I have benefits, too, in tennis, but there's other things also.
Q. Would you look for a school where you get a scholarship or something like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so.
Q. You don't need that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I don't think I need a scholarship. I'm not going to play for the tennis team. I don't think they would let me play for a tennis team.
Q. You can't because you're a professional.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Unless I could just go into retirement.
Q. You could buy the whole program, make it into a Venus Williams program. I wanted to ask if you feel comfortable talking about this. I know you're a Jehovah's Witness. Do you actively visit and witness? Can you tell me a little bit about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Do I actively visit and witness?
Q. I'm not that familiar with that religion.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I understand.
Q. What does that entail for you? What do you do, I guess, to actively be involved in your religion?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, we believe -- it's just like tennis. You can't just go once a month and expect your game to be on top. You have to reiterate everything. We believe in good association, association with fellow Witnesses, not becoming too involved with people that don't have the same beliefs and same values that we do. We go to meetings three times a week. They encourage us. You learn there, you learn more, just continue learning until you get a better understanding of things. I guess you are aware that we do house-to-house witnessing. I can't do that at all because I'm on the road. Getting more popular, I don't know if I can go house-to-house. I'm thinking about that. People are going to say, "What about the women?" I'll say, "What about this?" I was thinking about that.
Q. Have you done that a few times?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, ever since I was little. Generally, I can speak to people about it.
Q. Who was riding on the fire truck?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't get to ride. Serena got to drive it a little bit. She pulled it out. I was like scared to put the suit on. I'm like, This isn't my suit.
Q. Does she have a driver's license?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. I would like to get to the religious aspect. You grow up into a family, and this is the religious belief that's already there. So you grow up into something existing. Young people tend to reevaluate, question, challenge beliefs, then maybe accept them or maybe turn into something else. Did you ever go to a period where you actively questioned the set of beliefs that was put in front of you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Never. Not just because my parents believe, but because I do. I think that some of the reasons why a lot of people say Serena and I were good kids, we're obedient, never going crazy, is because of our beliefs. In the Bible it tells us that disobedient children do not live all their days. I believe that. A lot of times, like, I'm thinking about it, if I was not a Witness, if my parents told me to do something, I was thinking would I do it or not? Would I do what I want to do? The main reason I do is because I want to obey them, because it will be best for me, and because I'm afraid that things won't go right for me. It's God's law. So I do it because of that, too. I mean, I have to. That's how I live my life and how we got our lives.
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