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September 3, 1998

Venus Williams


Q. Venus, is everything going as expected?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Everything is going very well. I'd like to continue playing good tennis and then continue playing better.

Q. There is the famous seven outfits. Do they get better each time and what is the ultimate outfit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we will have to wait for the ultimate outfit, But they are going to get better each time. Actually, I can't even remember what I wear next, but I am going to get it together. It is a different color. I think the green is a little -- it is bright and it is just different. It is all green.

Q. Did you have anything to do with the design of the colors?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I didn't get to decide the green. I did decide a lot of other colors, but I wasn't too happy about the green at first. It turned out great and it was a good decision. I think it looks nice.

Q. Whose idea was it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the designers who did it said green. I said, no. They said: Green. I said: No. And green was I guess a good idea. It is nice.

Q. Whose idea was to do the seven different outfits?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was adjust a collaboration between Reebok and my family.

Q. Anything further on the patch?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Nothing further on the patch.

Q. It appeared today?


Q. Were you worried that that was going to become a distraction if it kind of played out the controversy?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all.

Q. Were you fined for not wearing it last time and was that a factor in wearing it today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not that I am aware of.

Q. Why did you decide to wear it today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because generally I usually appear in the patch when I play.

Q. The company that sponsors you, Reebok, had made quite an issue of the patch, and, in fact, put out a press release yesterday saying that she is not required to wear it and it detracts from the outfit that you were wearing. Clearly, you decided that, unlike Reebok, it would be a good idea to wear it and could you share with us your reasons for ending this controversy and just putting it on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, just seems I am always in the middle after controversy so it is nothing new for me. I am really separate from those type of things. Generally, I do my practicing and I play tennis. I think you have to talk to Reebok.

Q. Was it your own decision?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Generally I always wear the patch.

Q. Was it your decision not to wear the patch for the last match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Generally I always wear the patch.

Q. What caused you to deviate from that pattern?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Deviation is common among humans.

Q. Are you glad that you have patched things up?


Q. Is there any part of your game that is not up to your expectation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. I think everything is pretty solid. I am trying to work more on coming in, serve and volley and do some coming into the net more, basically that is it.

Q. Is there a progression where each match you are building towards something bigger? Are you right where you want to be right now for even a tougher match down the road?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I would definitely like to play better, for sure.

Q. What is lacking?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that my matches haven't been too tough so far. I think that the tougher your match, maybe the better you play. Right away I just want to make sure that I am doing what I should on every point and not losing any focus. Like, for instance, at a breakpoint in the second set and I just -- I didn't win that one. Just easy unforced error. I don't want to do those type of things in a larger match. I want to start right now.

Q. With the new leadership, there has been renewed talk about getting equal prize money at all the tournaments. You, of course, were one of the names that the leadership is talking about - the women are getting attention; we deserve this. How do you like being part of that? Do you like this or do you just want to play tennis and not get involved?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think to a certain degree you should be involved, and I think that you concentrate on your tennis, you play well, you get the results and everyone is watching. And I think, generally, all the ladies agree that we should get equal prize money. I think we play a great game. I think we have more interesting points, and it is definitely great to be involved, of course, make sure I don't lose too much focus on tennis, but I don't think it is going to happen.

Q. On the men's side, Goran Ivanisevic is very proud about participating and sponsoring a tournament in his home town in Croatia. What would it mean to you to have a tennis tournament in Compton, California, and what effect do you think it would have and the African American community?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think definitely that would be nice to have a tournament. I guess we have to figure out where it would be first. I never thought about it, But I think, definitely, participation in tennis in California and in other places surrounding would go up.

Q. You think it would bring attention to the game?


Q. I know you saw Serena's match yesterday. Was that as about as dominant as you have seen her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She played last year, and I don't think the girl -- she went up 4-Love. She won like 16 points in a row. And finally when the girl got a point, everyone started clapping. So she has been super dominant.

Q. Is she kind of reaching new plateaus as you did maybe in six months to a year earlier? Do you see that progression in her game as with yours?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think some. I think Serena is playing good. I don't think she is anywhere near her potential. I think she is playing good tennis right now, but I know, definitely, she wants to play better. I know, definitely, I definitely want her to play better.

Q. She said yesterday that you help her; there is a lot she can learn from you. There are also, she said, probably some things that you have picked up from her -- we would have to ask you about them. Can you think of any specific things that watching her you have been able to pick up and add to your game either mental or actual physical things?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I developed a running forehand because of Serena, just recently actually, like four weeks ago and now I have that shot because of her. So that is one thing that I have.

Q. Any comments on Serena's next match with Spirlea?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. (laughter) I was actually watching some of the TV last night, the Open coverage, and they said next Serena meets Spirlea. I was like: Wow. I know Serena really enjoys playing the top players. She looks at it as a way to help her ranking. I know Serena is going to go out there tough and I know Spirlea has a couple points to defend so she will probably want to win also.

Q. Nick Bollettieri just had some very complimentary things to say about you and your sister and also about your father. What role has he played and the academy played in your tennis? Have you gone there often and what role has he played?

VENUS WILLIAMS: When we get time we go to the academy to practice. Like when we go home, we kind of want to be at home because we don't spend so much time there. We like to get good practice over there. We have lots of fun, play the guys, they think they can beat us, but it will be another three years before they get strong enough.

Q. Are you saying that the Braasch match was a fluke?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what what you are speaking of.

Q. Was it you or Serena who played the German player Braasch earlier this year in Australia?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know who that is. I don't know what you are talking about.

Q. It is selected amnesia isn't it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: (No Response).

Q. When you walk around the grounds here there are busts or statues of five USTA presidents who served for two-year terms. Not a single bust or statue of Arthur Ashe or Jimmy Connors or Billie Jean King. Does that bother you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think we get enough attention already.

Q. What about the players from the past, maybe contribute today to what is going on today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think eventually there will probably be some put up, but a lot of work went into the grounds already, so I am not sure. I don't get to walk around here that much. I don't have that much liberty.

Q. With Steffi Graf regaining her health and Monica here and all the other players, is this the strongest field of any tournament you have played in and how does that pose a challenge?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that the fields have become stronger and stronger with all the girls improving and all the girls who aren't ranked as high starting to believe they can win, wanting a piece of winning and winning tournaments also. That it is definitely -- everyone was having tough first round matches, my sister, and Steffi and a lot of other players. So I guess I was a little lucky to get without a tough match in the first round.

Q. Do you see the patch thing that we have discussed as a fairness issue in terms that there are some players who have an exemption from that? Did you send a message that that is wrong and there should be equal treatment for everybody no matter what their contract is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't sending any messages.

Q. Do you feel different here this year having, you know, last year sort of all new and all that stuff, do you feel like a bit more of a veteran, more experience; do you feel more comfortable off the court walking around?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel different, yeah, because I am seeded this year. I have a better ranking and I think it was different last year because I had never been here before to the Open. It was new. Most tournaments I played, a lot of them this year too, I had never been to before.

Q. What does Althea Gibson mean to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She was a pioneer on the ladies Tour. She did a great job. Set a good example, our forerunner.

End of FastScripts....

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