March 26, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Well, what were you thinking on all those match points going out the window?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was just much too tight and I was much too pumped, I suppose. I suppose I got much too high. After I lost that game, it was like, "Wow, how could I have done that?" But I'm not the type of player that gives up. She happened -- I happened to play bad in the next couple games. She played better. But then in the next set, I was ready to go. So it was very sad that I had to do that, but in the end, I still prevailed.
Q. That what makes your matches between you and Martina so interesting, neither one of you are willing to give up? Is that interesting to play, too?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I think a lot of the players aren't willing to give up. I think we, especially, show a lot of heart and a lot of desire. So it really makes it interesting; it helps the game when all the people are watching on the outside, TV, looking at it in the papers.
Q. Did you leave some beads behind on the court for her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't leave any pearls for her this time.
Q. What was it she was picking up then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Probably was some of my beads. I think it was the blue ones. It's been so long since I've had my hair done, the rubber bands on the end, they kind of get so weak that they break. Always making repairs. I'm going to take my hair down, do it over after this tournament. I haven't bothered to put them back, the beads.
Q. Venus, because of the way that you beat her, do you see this as the major turning point in your own career?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I think my career's been turning for a long time now. I don't think it's a major turning point in my career. I believe that I was tired of losing in ridiculous ways. I knew I was a better player. It's okay to lose. It's okay. But just to go out and to lose 6-Love, things of that nature, and to play badly, that's different. If you go out there playing your best, you lose, say, "You won this time, that's great." To go out there and play bad in the past, that's unacceptable for me.
Q. Do you think when you lost the second set after three match points, do you think about your sister's game, which also had a chance, having two match points against Martina?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. We're totally different people. Totally different hearts. Totally different day. Very different match. So, therefore, I believe I still would come through. I don't go out there thinking that I'm going to lose. I go out there ready to play. Even though you miss opportunities, they always come again. You just have to create them. So I couldn't go back to those match points. I couldn't get them back. She wasn't going to give them to me. That was over with. So I just had to go on. But I did develop a headache, because I got sick, it was sickening. I said, "Oh, my gosh." When I went up 1-Love in the third, I got a headache and I was sick.
Q. Has that happened to you before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm just exaggerating (laughter). I wasn't sick. I say that a lot.
Q. Venus, what, if anything, did she hurt you with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Pardon me?
Q. What, if anything, can she hurt you with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think one of Martina's strong points is she's consistent and she'll try to move the ball around. A lot of times the girls aren't their best moving and hitting at the same time. I believe for Serena and I it's a strong point. We can hit. Actually, this time last year I was not able to do that so well because I was tall and I was unable to move laterally efficiently. I worked on that. But now, Serena and I are doing much better. But going back to her strong points. She hates to lose. That's something that really helps her to win all the time, to be a good winner.
Q. When she pulled back to 5-5 in that second set, the next game, you lost that very quickly.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Can you tell us what was going on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was lazy. Just totally lazy. I wasn't moving my feet. Especially for someone my height, you do have to get in position because you're tall. You have to work a little harder to get into position. I got lazy. I was like, "Venus, you're being lazy." At that point she probably got a little confidence, closed it out.
Q. Were you disappointed during that game that you had let her get back in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I actually wasn't feeling so great that I had done that. But there was nothing I could do about it now. I just have to move on.
Q. Venus, do you find that you talk to yourself a lot while you're on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In the past, I did not. But starting actually this year in Sydney, because in the past sometimes I would lose matches because I didn't have enough fight. I didn't give up, but I didn't really fight. So I felt that if I had to talk to myself and things of that nature, just to win, then maybe that's what I had to do. So starting Sydney, that's what I do now.
Q. And you found it's helped?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes. Sometimes you can get too excited and too high and too tight. And that's not so good either. You're not able to hit. Depends what kind of person you are.
Q. What were you saying to yourself out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just, "Come on, let's go." Sometimes in the middle of a point, I'd realize, say, "Venus, wait a minute, you're coming up too high. How tall are you, Venus? You have to stay down." Different things like that.
Q. You live in South Florida. Does this make it special? What does the mean going to the finals?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel good going to the finals. I've played a lot this week. I'm out of school now, so I don't have to go to school or be behind anymore, as I was in the past. So it feels good. Everyone here gets to see me that reads about me in the paper when I'm overseas or away out of state. I like playing here.
Q. You said your career hasn't turned. Do you think you sort of arrived, you go up to the Top 10 --
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't arrived yet; I'm just coming, on my way.
Q. Venus, did you and Serena talk a little bit before this match about playing Martina?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I played her much more than Serena, I believe six times now, more than I played anyone else. Serena gave me one pointer that really helped me, which I will not disclose to y'all for fear that it will appear in the papers and over television (laughter). That really helped me in the end. What was the question?
Q. If you talked about playing her.
VENUS WILLIAMS: In the past, actually starting in Australia, I said to Serena, "If you can't do it for me, do it for you, do it for me." She was actually losing this one match, a particular player in the Top 10, she was down 1-6, 2-5. She said she saw me getting dressed and stretching. She got so sad because she was losing in under an hour. She said she did it for me. This time when I lost the second set, I found that I had to do it for her. That's my soliloquy.
Q. Venus, your record is about 20-3 this year. Something very similar to Martina. You've beaten her two out of three this year. Is it fair for you to think you've caught her yet?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess you couldn't really say it's fair. I don't have the same ranking she has. But I believe I'm progressing. I don't think that players actually go out and say, "I'm catching up, I've caught you, I have so many accomplishments." I think they always want to do better and always just stay on top. I don't keep a record or count of what she's doing, what I'm doing. It's best to concentrate on me, sometimes Serena, too, if she's not concentrating.
Q. Is she playing as well as she did last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Martina?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, maybe. I think that sometimes it's probably not so easy to be on top and you're only about 17, everyone knows that you've won in the past, wants you to win now, expects you to win. So sometimes it can probably play a toll on someone. Even if she's not as good as she was last year, I think she's doing real good. I've never been in that position. I don't have anything to defend. I think that whatever she does, I think everyone should accept that.
Q. Was your father flashing some signs to you there? It looked like it, but we were too far away.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.
Q. He had a cardboard.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Pardon me?
Q. He had a big sign in his hand or piece of paper before the match. But no one could see what it said.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never saw this.
Q. At the beginning of the match.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't look at my parents so much.
Q. Thought maybe you knew what it was.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going to get the tape so I can see.
Q. Didn't show it on the tape.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't see that.
Q. Venus, did you say you were done with school?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. You graduated?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. When did that happen?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was doing some math because I felt that I should do some algebra, too. At one point I was in the class, but I was unable to keep up to gain the knowledge, so I had to pull out and get in algebra one, then geometry. I took basics, too.
Q. So you're done with school?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm done.
Q. For the year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Forever. High school.
Q. Did you graduate and when?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not a ceremony. I didn't want one. I go to a small, private school. The teacher asked if I wanted a ceremony, but I didn't want it. I never graduated from kindergarten or the sixth grade or middle school or anything. I never had a graduation, never.
Q. Are you going on for any college?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going to go to maybe summer school, college, things of that nature. I don't think it's possible for me to actually go full-time during the fall and winter terms. I don't think it's realistic, unless I choose to forget my tennis career. I don't think I'm going to do that right now. I'm working too hard.
Q. Did you graduate in December or January? How recent was it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was kind of on my own pace, just completing some things. Now I'm just finished all the way.
Q. Did your emotion at the end of the match say you're No. 1?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What was I doing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I do that all the time (indicating). You know, it's a little dance. I don't do a full dance on court. Maybe after I win a Slam or something of that nature.
Q. Are you holding that up for No. 1?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's because my finger is so long, when I put my hand up, it just protrudes (laughter).
Q. Venus, how were you feeling when Martina left the court after the first game in the third set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought it was really great. I thought it was really great I got a break and had a chance to think things over. I was saying to myself -- I was very calm at that point. Really, it surprised me that she was taking breaks, because she did it against Serena. She did it against me before. Didn't bother me at all, because people have taken breaks on me before. I think it gives me a chance to regroup, especially since I'm more experienced at this point. So, I guess she got the job done, whatever she was doing.
Q. What's happening over there with your knee? Anything in particular? Precaution?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, nothing's really happening.
Q. Why the bandage, for effect?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it looks real nice, actually.
Q. The crowd was very much behind you today. I was wondering how much that helped you in the third set? You played to it very well also.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was feeling pretty good in the third. I was just so relaxed in the third. In the points, I was kind of walking to the ball, too. Serena does the walk, she's always walking. Mom would say, "If that girl would stop walking, she would be so good." I was doing the Serena walk (laughter). I was actually serving to go up 3-Love. I was just so nonchalant at that point. I won the game, went up to 4-Love, lost serve. At that point it really didn't matter to me.
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