March 28, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Where did your dance originate from?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's my dance. I'm doing it all the time, when I'm practicing, or when Serena and I are together. I didn't do the full thing. You guys will never see that (laughter).
Q. Was your knee bothering you? Were you limping?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was having some problems, I guess, starting late in the second set. But I was able to pull the third out. I don't think it affected me so much.
Q. How do you think you played that first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I really wasn't ready to play at all. Might as well just have been someone else. I think that Anna played well also. I think she really came out there with a plan, a plan to win the Lipton. And I wasn't really prepared for that. But slowly I adjusted to it and I was able to come through.
Q. Her plan was the slicing, lots of slicing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Since I'm so tall, I guess I had the wrap on my knee, maybe she thought she should slice, keep it in play, let me rush. I wasn't so comfortable in the first sets. That was a good plan.
Q. Your first serve didn't come too well at the beginning?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Sometimes I like to hit big ones, sometimes I don't. It just depends.
Q. The speed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes the pace isn't always effective. If you mix it up more, sometimes people don't like the spin so much, especially the shorter girls.
Q. Anna said that you didn't beat her; she lost. What would be your response to that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that usually when people do lose, they beat themselves generally. The story of every match when someone loses, the person makes more errors. When I lose, or when Anna lost today, made more errors than what I did. I think you have to hit some winners, but you also have to make errors to lose a match.
Q. She was tired, obviously, in the third set. Did you feel tired, too? You seemed a little bit down.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, if I was tired, it wasn't really important because I had time to be tired after the match was over with. I think that she was tired at the beginning of the second. She looked very tired. So I felt that I should just keep the ball in play.
Q. You're down a set and a break. Are you concerned? Are you worried? What are you going through there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I was very concerned. I was concerned that if I didn't change, things were going to go too quickly for me. I was saying, "Wow, Venus, come on. How can I be doing this?" I couldn't believe I was playing this way. This looked like the old Venus. I used to bomb out. Not because she's a bad player, but because she didn't know how to play in certain occasions. I pulled my receive together, said, "Venus, come on."
Q. What did you change?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What did I change? Hey, how is it going?
Q. All right.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was hitting a lot of errors. She was just slicing and slicing. I was hitting errors, rushing, not having too much confidence in my shots. I was also nervous, too. In the end, I was like, "This has to change, there's no need for this." So I just put more balls in play.
Q. Venus, what was the feeling winning the Lipton?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At that point, I was kind of tired and ready for the match to be over with. I felt there was no way I could lose serve. I think she played a good game at 5-Love. She stepped up and hit some winners. But there was no way I was going to lose serve in that game.
Q. You made two racquet changes during this match. Why?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because my strings always breaking. They break. For maybe an hour they last. I didn't want my strings to break at any important point, so I was changing the racquets more often.
Q. They had not broken at that time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They weren't broken at that time.
Q. You could see they were starting to fray?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I didn't want to lose a point because of that.
Q. Venus, can we say that today is one of the most happiest days of your life?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm very happy. I've had happier days for more occasions.
Q. After beating Martina Hingis twice this year, now winning your first match with Anna Kournikova, what is your impression of the youngsters in the game, like yourself? What is your impression of the way they play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I played all of the younger girls, including one girl named Serena Williams. They all have their different games and the different things they play. I think it's a good sign for the future because if it hadn't been me in the finals, it would have been Martina, or it would have been Serena. So it was going to be a teenage final, especially with Anna pulling her end in the bottom draw. I think that was good. Everyone was exposed to the new girls.
Q. You have been referred to as the Tiger Woods of tennis. How do you respond to that? How do you feel about that, especially your impact on the younger generation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Generally, I don't think -- it doesn't really motivate me. I think it gives a good analogy for people who might not follow tennis to feel or to understand what I am for tennis. I suppose that's what I feel it means.
Q. Venus, does it feel more special to win in your hometown, here in Miami, family and everything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, yes. My teachers got to come, some people who goes to our congregation, my trainer. Everybody got to come and see me win. I'm like, "I can't be losing in front of all of my friends."
Q. Are you aware of your dad holding up signs throughout the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I saw this time. Last time I didn't see at all. This time I was able to see.
Q. What do you think of that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that I guess that's what he wanted to do (laughter).
Q. Are you embarrassed by it at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I don't get embarrassed at all.
Q. Are you surprised he didn't pay more attention to your match than making these signs?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, usually he isn't here. So that was good enough for me.
Q. Venus, Anna kind of characterized your draw in this tournament as being a little bit easier than hers. Your response to that? At the same time, did you kind of think, "She has had an awful lot of tough matches, maybe there was a chance of wearing her down in the final because of that"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think in my part of the draw, two of the seeds pulled out. Also she played a lot of the players in the Top 10, I believe about four. I think no matter what, you're going to play matches, people are going to want to win against you. I think it was good she got to play all those players, to have victories over them. In the end, I think that's insignificant, because you just have to play in each round. Sometimes people get on fire and you have to extinguish that, no matter who they are. So I think it's good that Anna was able to play well all the way here and to play all the players. I had, I suppose, a little more easier matches sometimes.
Q. Before you said you were progressing. Do you think now you have arrived with this victory?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm coming. Don't rush me. I'm not here yet (laughter).
Q. Where is your next tournament, Venus?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm playing Amelia Island, not this week, but next week.
Q. How much therapy do you need on this MCL problem?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I just need some rest. I played three tournaments in a row now. That's generally what I don't do. So I'm going to take some rest. I don't think it's so bad. I think it was just wear and tear, where I haven't had as much recuperation time as I would like. I think it will be good.
Q. Venus, the other day Hingis said she felt for many years she was the hunter, and she's become the hunted. Do you feel that way today, that you had changed into the role of being the hunted one with Anna, trying to be the hunter?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, no. I don't feel that way at all. I suppose as my ranking improves, maybe I'll feel like that. But, no.
Q. Since the U.S. Open final last year, you appear to have learned an awful lot about tactics, general strategy, sort of thinking your game through. Is that a fair comment?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Ever since beginning of the Open, my first round match, I was losing in the first set. I was like, "Oh, no, not again. First round loss in the Slams." I managed to come through in that. Ever since that, I was able to change my game when I'm losing. Today I think I did also. Usually I have a powerhouse game, hitting a lot of winners and step up. I felt that wasn't working today. Anna was determined to run down a lot of balls and slice them back. If I wasn't going to come up to the net, at least I could raise the ball. I have different games. If I have to play them, that's what I do.
Q. What specifically can you take away from this final compared to the other finals that you played? What will you remember this final for?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure yet. It's kind of hard to say. It was 20 minutes ago. I guess I'll look back and think about it, as a good time, like the fifth biggest tournament. Pretty happy about that.
Q. Was there another step, though, that you took in this final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. Because I won a tournament before, but it wasn't the largest. Here in the semifinals, I could have lost there if I hadn't been serious. Sometimes you get to the semifinals, quarterfinals, and you just have to make that extra step so you can make the extra step in the larger tournaments, like the Slams. If you don't, then you just keep going out in the semifinals. Then you have never made it to the finals, to win the tournament. So here, I think I was able to win and feel what it's like to win. I think that really will help me in the future, especially this year.
Q. Venus, does this title feel better than the first title?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think they feel the same. I was happy. Serena won the doubles there. This time I played so bad in doubles, it was unbelievable. We had so many leads. We just wasn't able to pull it together. We aren't that sad. It was only our sixth doubles tournament. But I'm very happy about both of my titles. I would never give any of them up.
Q. Do you have plans for this $235,000?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was trying to figure out how much I won. I didn't know. I was looking at the points, win or lose today, I was No. 10. Now I'll be closer to No. 9, is how I look at it. I'm not going to do anything with it. I'm going to put it in the bank. Buy my dogs a collar.
Q. What is it like for your family, you, your sister, your dad? Is this like a whole big family celebration?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Because when I win, everyone wins. Serena wins, my mom wins. It's just good for all of us. It helps Serena, too, because when I win, I can tell her what I did to win, what kind of experiences I had on the court. It helps her a lot, so she'll know what to do. "Serena, don't do this, because I almost lost, or I did lose, please don't do this." It really helps her.
Q. What did your dad say after the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't remember.
Q. Did he write it on the sign?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so. At this point, he's going to do that next.
Q. Did you plan to go up and see your mother if you won, or was that a spur of the moment thing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I just went to go see her because I was pretty happy at that point. It was spur of the moment. I didn't plan it at all.
Q. Where are you learning most of your stuff from, as your game is taking on different shades, you're able to do more things? Is it something you learn out on the Tour or from working with people specifically? Who are the architects?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's just from listening to my parents. When you listen to them, it really helps because I had to change my game a little bit in this match after the first set. It was something my dad had told me before, the day before, and today also. If I was having trouble, then to do this, to do that. That's exactly what I did. If he hadn't told me that or if I hadn't listened, things might not have gone the way they had today. So my parents are my coaches, they really help me get there. I have to listen, too. I'm going to do my best to keep doing that.
Q. Are you planning to play Eastbourne before Wimbledon this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I will be there.
Q. Just the one week, week of practice? The week before Wimbledon, you'll be just practicing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know quite the schedule. Is there a week?
Q. There's two weeks between the French.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going home after the French.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going home after the French.
WTA: I'd like to introduce Cliff Buchholz who is going to make a brief presentation to Venus.
CLIFF BUCHHOLZ: Venus, you're going to receive a lot of trophies, crystals, also probably a lot of money. But it's a little unusual to receive a portrait of yourself. It's been a first for the Lipton. We have our own artist in residence, contemporary sports artist from Denver, Colorado, Malcolm Farley. A portrait of Venus in action.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you. I'm speeding (laughter).
CLIFF BUCHHOLZ: Venus, well done. Thank you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you.
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