August 29, 1998
U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York
MODERATOR: Is everybody here? Questions for Venus, please.
Q. Venus, when did you make the decision to drop out of the mixed doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never made that decision.
Q. It was in the Times this morning.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just doubles. Women's doubles.
Q. Not the mixed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Oh, okay. I'm confused.
MODERATOR: The report was regular doubles.
Q. I may have read it wrong. Venus, you're back at the Open walking around today. What
goes through your mind when you think back on last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had a lot -- a pretty good time. Not too much goes through my mind.
I'm basically thinking about this year. Last year is finished.
Q. Venus, how do you think your chances are for this year at the Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my chances are great.
MODERATOR: Other questions?
Q. Your home game has improved in every way since last year, actually. Your whole
confidence, your strokes, the ability to come to the net. Everything seems to have
progressed at a really rapid rate. Do you feel that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I've progressed. Sometimes I don't think I have. It's because I
like to get better than what I am currently. I think I have gotten better. You have to
because everyone else gets better and it's up to you to stay with them.
Q. How do you feel physically?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Good, thank you very much.
Q. Can you compare this year's field of women's tennis in this tournament with last
year's? Is it deeper this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it's the same competitors basically. I think they're all
playing better tennis definitely.
Q. Anybody in particular you think might be tougher this year? Graph or Seles or
VENUS WILLIAMS: I generally don't concentrate on that because it's so important just to
figure out what you're doing first, straighten out all the problems that you might have,
just get things straight for yourself. In the end, you worry about someone else.
Q. What would you say is the biggest change between Venus in the '98 Open and the one
we saw in '97?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't played yet.
Q. Going in. What's the biggest change in your game in the last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my serve is much better. It's moving faster, but, I guess that
doesn't really make a difference always. I would say I'm much smarter; I think I play
better shots. I make better selections. I know I win matches from my playing well or if
I'm not supposed to win. So those are a couple things that have become better.
Q. Have you gotten to see Queens much? What do you think of it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I honestly can't tell you the difference between -- I don't know the
Q. What kind of rehabilitation have you been doing on your knee in the last couple of
weeks? How much time has it been taking you daily to do that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think that some rest and just regular stretching, things like
that, making sure you take care of yourself. That's all.
Q. Is this something you're going to have to do for a while? Is it a long-term sort of
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it's long-term at all.
Q. Venus, in the big picture of your career, are you about where you expected to be at
this point? Are you pleased with how you've progressed? Do you think you'd even be higher
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm somewhat pleased. I thought maybe I'd be higher up. But it's
difficult when you're an athlete because you always want to be better. Sometimes you have
to be happy where you're at, sometimes not very long. When you get there, then two days,
four days later, it's time to move out of the position. I always want to do better.
Q. Can you tell us about your line of clothing and when you expect to be a full-time
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not going to be a full-time designer at this moment in time. I have
seven different dresses that I'm wearing, seven different matches. That means I'll have to
play seven matches. Also, I got to design the warm up that I have on now. I was able to
pick the color. My favorite color is blue and yellow.
Q. I have a question concerning Steffi graph. She's older, she's another generation of
tennis. What do you think about her coming in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's great. Everyone wants to see her come back. Everyone's
routing for Steffi. When she goes out there she's probably really here to have a good
time. She really wants to be there. She's probably enjoying it a little more. I can't
speak for her, but we're all happy to see her.
Q. Do you use any sort of special technique in order to keep yourself motivated right
before a starting match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No special techniques, not yet.
Q. Did you see the big poster on the side of the building?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I saw it. I saw it.
Q. What an impact. Quite an impact.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's a nice picture. I think I picked it out. I was happy with it. I
was glad it turned out nice.
Q. What do you think you need to do to get over that mound and win the whole thing this
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played well last year, and this year I need to also play well
like I did last year, do some of the same things, and just be a little bit more serious,
work a little bit harder, and do some of the right things. I guess I couldn't do too much
more right than what I did last year, maybe have a couple easier matches.
Q. How old were you when you started playing tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Four and a half. (Laughter) .
Q. Venus, you and Serena have had tremendous success in mixed doubles but your
partners, while they're very good, are not the very elite. Could you explain what there is
about both of your games that makes you do so well in the mixed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, we like playing doubles very much so. We enjoy ourselves. Serena
and I have never played a team sports like basketball or even baseball. We never really
did that too much with a team. So doubles are kind of fun for us because instead of just
one person on the court it's two persons and four persons so it's different. We like
playing things, and we have good partners.
Q. Do you have any memories of last year's Ashe Day festivities and what it was like to
be out on the court there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think Serena and I had the same thing on. We were twins, but I was a
little taller. It was a lot of fun. It was different.
Q. The idea of the day itself, what it means and what you're giving to the kids who are
out there watching you for that day.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It means a lot. I think people definitely recognize what Arthur Ashe
did and they try to make a better example to everyone around them. Serena and I can
remember this also, make sure reevaluate ourselves, make sure we give our best because he
Q. Venus, there's been a lot of publicity in the last few days. There's a big article
in the Times today and there's printed stuff about Althea Gibson. What is your feeling,
have you read about her? What do you know about her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know something about her. I couldn't say I know everything. But I do
know some things about her.
Q. Would you say that you've sort of -- you feel that you're a pioneer in the sense
that she was or that she blazed a trail for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think, definitely, she did more than what I could have done or what I
have done. So to emulate her success would be great. And I think maybe like ten years from
now I could look back and see what I might have done. I'm still in the process.
Q. Have you studied the draw, do you do those sorts of things and look at how you're
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have not studied the draw at all. I am quite aware that Serena is at
the top now and I'm at the bottom. But that's about it.
Q. Are you ready to predict an all Williams final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did that before, didn't I? It's a great possibility. I'm going to
encourage her; she's going to encourage me.
MODERATOR: Other questions?
Q. Why do you wear the beads? (Laughter)
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it started a long time ago when we practiced all day. We did a
lot of practicing. It was not very easy to comb your hair. So my mom braided our hair, and
put beads on them. Then you don't have to do it for six weeks, you don't have to do your
hair every day. It's very hard. I'm not that good at doing hair, I never really learned. I
guess it's my fault, but that's why -- we like it. That's why I wear it.
Q. What was the choice with white today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've had color for a year and a half now. I haven't had white for a
long time. So I was getting a little tired of the colors. I think I'm going to put a
little more color in. It doesn't look right white. It's been a while -- because I haven't
had it white for a long time.
Q. How long does it take?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I very long time.
Q. And your mother does it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she aids me.
MODERATOR: Any last questions? Thank you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you all very much.
MODERATOR: We have a special guest, and he is the Secretary of Transportation, Rodney
Slater. Rodney is going to come up and he wants to meet Venus, and Steve Campbell. Steve,
would you please come up. He's one of our champions. This is Mr. Slater, Rodney Slater.
SECRETARY SLATER: I just want to make a presentation to Venus. This is one of our
Buckle-Up America shirts, and I'm here with
Dr. Martinez, who is the head of our organization that deals with highway safety. And,
Steve, my pleasure. Good meeting you as well, but the reason I wanted to take this
opportunity is because with these two individuals and with all who will represent
themselves and will represent the sport so well in the U.S. Open, which is the most
prestigious tennis tournament in the United States, they celebrate life. And,
unfortunately, we lose about 40,000 people annually in automobile crashes. And all too
many of them are young people. And so we have this effort that's ongoing involving a
network of champions, and we're going to try to encourage these two to join us in that
regard. They will join Venus and Larry in getting the safety message out and in telling
parents to buckle up and to buckle up their little ones, to put them in child safety
seats, and if you have the opportunity to do so, always put a child who's below the age of
12 in the back seat of the car. And, again, buckle up and make their travels safe.
Transportation is about more than concrete, asphalt, and steel; it's about life and our
pursuit of happiness. Venus, I'd like to make this presentation to you and I'd like to
wish you well in the tournament.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you.
SECRETARY SLATER: I also consider it really an honor and a pleasure to do this and to
be here on Arthur Ashe kid's day. Mayor Dinkins, come on up, Mr. Mayor. Good seeing you,
sir. But Arthur Ashe, as you know, was not only a great athlete, but like the individuals
here, he was a great humanitarian; he was a great representative; he was a great advocate,
and he represented all that is good about this country. And I think that's what these
individuals represent and all these athletes who participate in the U.S. Open. So on
behalf of our president and vice president who see safety as the number one transportation
priority, I'm just here to say to America, buckle up, and use this most important safety
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.