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September 7, 1998

Venus Williams

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. You have an excellent relationship with your father. You know stories about people that don't. I'm just wondering what makes yours, do you think, different, the fact that he can blend into the background in major events and things like that? What makes it that different for you? What makes it special?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think generally everyone is a different person. I think most people on the tennis tour have had great fathers. Even the ladies who have had some difficulties or differences, they still, in the end, have great fathers, too, who want the best for them. I think that I've stayed the daughter and he's stayed the dad, and I've done exactly what I'm told. Then, you know, I still sometimes got what I wanted. And I think that's mostly because of my religious beliefs also, because it says disobedient children won't live all their days, and children have to be obedient to their parents. So it's a lot of things.

Q. Do you think it's more him than you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we have to work together. We both can't be rebellious. We have to try to work things out, I guess. I don't know.

Q. Thank you.

VENUS WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

Q. What do you like best about your father?

VENUS WILLIAMS: He's pretty funny. He lets me have what I want usually. My mom doesn't always do that.

Q. You were trailing 4-1 in the tiebreaker. What changed in your mind? Can you tell us how the match came back in your favor?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was down 4-1, and I thought about it. And I said to myself that I was only down one mini-break, and that's all. So I proceeded to get those two points. I just kept thinking positive, I suppose. I calmed myself down. And then I went up 5-4, and the ball, it just kept curving in, and it landed on the line, so I was pretty happy.

Q. Then you had the ace.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just said, "Okay, I can do this." There went the ace. I was pretty happy about that, too. I guess she wasn't that happy about it. She was probably saying, "I'm still in here." But I don't know.

Q. Last year you made it to the finals in something of a whirlwind. Is this more of a calculated match-by-match progression for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that I've had a tougher match going in earlier. This time last year in the fourth round, I was playing a player in the 40s -- still a great player. Everyone on the tour, you have to be a great player to be here. But it wasn't -- it wasn't a top player. So it's different, but I'm ready to go. I'm happy.

Q. Have you felt an improvement in your game, in both the mental and physical approach, from the beginning of the tournament to now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I think that I'm more focused. I'm trying not to make all the errors. I think in the first set, I was really good about that. In the second, she came back stronger, and I started making more errors also because I had all the opportunities, a lot of games to break serve, but instead I chose to lose the points. And those are decisions that you have to stop making.

Q. Can you talk about how you spent the break during the rain, if you lost momentum, if that had anything to do with it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I just had something to eat. I guess I stretched. Serena and I, we talked about some things, generally that didn't have -- would not make your mind grow, just about things that I can't even remember right now (laughter). But that's all.

Q. Did you feel like you had lost some momentum? Were you kind of upset when that break came?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, because I went up 2-Love. I missed an easy shot for the break. I should have hung in there. In the end, I still stayed strong. But I want to get away from that, making those mistakes, making things tougher on myself than what they should be.

Q. Did you have an opportunity to watch McGwire hit his 61st homer, and do you have any thoughts on the significance of that home run race in sports today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I was playing my match when he hit the 61. I was unable to view it.

Q. Any thoughts on the race?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think -- I don't watch baseball, except in Moscow I was forced to watch baseball because of the World Series. I don't know what the last game is called, but whatever it was, it was on between the Marlins and was it Chicago or something. It was like the only English channel, so we were forced to watch it instead of Jay Leno. They kept replaying it, and we wanted to see Jay Leno. But I don't -- you're forced to be cognizant of the race, even if you aren't a viewer in baseball. So I know about it, for sure.

Q. Were you cognizant of the fact that they put it up on the score board?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I saw that, I saw that.

Q. In the second set, that long, drawn-out game, about 15 deuces.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought it was like seven.

Q. It was more than that. I lost count after a while.


Q. How did you feel about losing some of those breakpoints?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I felt that the pressure was on her to hold. When it's that tough to hold serve, things kind of go down because I kept having all those breakpoints. She didn't have the game points. So it was her fighting it off. I had to win those points. I had to stay in there somehow. I kept missing, but I came through anyway.

Q. Can you just talk about a little bit of your emotion at the end of the match when you did win, and you kind of danced a little bit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was pretty happy because in my last match, I couldn't go on against her.

Q. What was the reason for that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just my knee, the left one. So it was terrible because I just couldn't give my best. And I really never had that situation before where I couldn't move, because movement is really an important thing in this sport. And especially for me also because I'm a good mover, and I can make you hit that extra shot or closer to the line, which is tough to do.

Q. Did you feel a sense of revenge in this game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I wanted to win this match, because I did well here last year, and I should be able to do well again. And I was just glad because the last time, it's just that I couldn't go on. And this time, I wanted to make sure I could go on. So I was glad.

Q. But against her in particular?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, because it would have been terrible if I had an injury again against her. I would have been thinking, "Maybe this is mental."

Q. Do you have a different kind of checklist in your mind when it gets to a tiebreaker? Does your thought process change?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that generally in a tiebreaker, if I go to a tiebreaker, I think that my chances are greater to win it because basically I'm going to go for my shots more, I'm going to hit big shots and hit big serves. But when you're playing someone like Mary or some of the larger hitters, or players who consistently hit the ball hard, and that's what they want to do, you know you're going to have to give it that extra effort.

Q. What did you feel from the fans today, the crowd?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt that they wanted Mary to win. I mean, that's fine. People have to make up their own mind; they have to have their favorite players. People have to enjoy what they enjoy. I can't change their hearts. She's been playing here longer than I have. She's been pro longer. People probably understand her more. I don't know.

Q. Do they misunderstand you, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.

Q. If you had to respond in one sentence to the question: There's Something About Mary, what would that be?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. What are we talking about?

Q. About Mary Pierce.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I couldn't -- I don't know. Quite an odd question. So I guess there is something about her. People love her. She's a great player.

Q. You're finished with high school now. Are you going to take any college courses or are you going to concentrate on tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I went to look at the campus at UCLA. I found it very nice. I have taken some college courses. But I feel that I don't have the time right now. I either play the Australian Open or I go to college. This year I had to choose the Australian Open. Last year I chose to go to college. So that was fun. I have different experiences in my life.

Q. What did you like about the UCLA campus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. Serena suggested, she said, "Maybe we should go there." I said, "I want to go in Florida because this is warmer." But it's very nice. There's a lot of opportunities there. I grew up in California, too.

Q. You didn't talk to Stella Sampras, did you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm not sure she was there. I didn't see her.

Q. Do you ever consider yourself an emotional person?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes emotions are useless. But emotional, sure, sometimes. Not too often.

Q. Had you been planning to do that dance after a satisfying victory?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I really shouldn't have done the dance. I should have waited till later. I don't know why I did it. But, no, I had not planned to do the dance at all. I really actually had just planned to win the second set real easy. That was basically my next plan.

Q. Mary Pierce, in the interview with her, she said that you played very aggressive, you played very well in the first set, but not so in the second set. Do you agree with her assessment of the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't think I played as well in the second set. I think that I made more errors. I think that she changed her game plan a little bit also. I don't think I played exactly the same. But still, I had to play my game, no matter what she was going to do. And it's not the easiest thing to play error-free. And sometimes you just have to go for your shots. You just can't let someone step up before you do. You just have to go.

Q. What did you see her doing different in the second set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she cut back on the errors. She probably felt that it was just useless to be making those errors. I think -- I don't think she served too much better, you know, with the first serves. I think she had maybe two double-faults in the whole match. But her first serve percentage wasn't too high. I guess mine wasn't either. I think she started missing so many backhands, because she was missing a couple of those. She just became more consistent. I think she tried to be more aggressive or tried to move me around.

Q. Could you talk about what you were thinking when the storm first came on? Was that first disruptive for you when it got dark?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really see it till I sat down. All types of things started blowing on the court. I would have liked to go on from there, but things don't happen in that manner always.

Q. It was pretty interesting because when she was serving at Love-40, I think she tossed it up a couple times, stopped, but you didn't seem to even pay attention to the surroundings going on. Were you that focused on that, you were not thinking about the environment, not thinking about the clouds?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was ready to go. I was ready to get the break. I was ready to continue. I was ready to go on. I really didn't see any of it -- I didn't see any lightning, I didn't see anything, except maybe a ball.

Q. If I might ask about your dad again. You spoke about his sense of humor. Because of the some of the comments made over the years, some feel he's misunderstood by the public. If you could talk to the public and say what makes him a special man, a good man, what would you say to try and explain?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say that he's a special guy and a good man because he's my dad; no one else's.

Q. But are there any qualities that he has that you'd like the public to know about?

VENUS WILLIAMS: He's real funny. He doesn't put any pressure on us. He said, "Venus, don't you think you're playing too many tournaments. How long you going to be overseas?" So I say, "It's not that many, Dad." He doesn't like it that I stay away from home too much. I'm not sure how much I like it either. But I think that there's only so many years that I'll have, so I should take advantage. And I think he looks out for us a lot also. He wants the best for us. And he takes care of the dogs also. They really like him. They might like him more than us because he buys hams and hot dogs for them, and I won't do it. He lets them ride in the car also, and I don't do that too often because I don't want to clean, so.

Q. Is it the 7-Eleven you take them to when you get back after trips or someplace else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, sometimes I let them ride around. I don't do it so often anymore because I don't want to clean all the hair. I can't deal with it.

Q. Do you expect that the American crowd will rally behind you, you being American now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I would hope so. I think my next round, I don't have a chance of playing an American at all, I guess a European. So everyone has their favorites. I can't expect people -- everyone to be my fan. That wouldn't be realistic.

Q. You're not a baseball fan. Is there any other sport you follow closely as a spectator?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I've made an effort at times. I've tried to watch basketball. I found it didn't hold my attention span very long. I think football is actually best, American football, then soccer also is kind of nice, too.

Q. Do you think you could have excelled at any sport that you wanted to?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. But I think tennis is the best because you have the opportunity to have a large income, you travel the world. I think it's the best women's sport as far as notoriety. It really is. I like it.

End of FastScripts….

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