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September 9, 1998

Venus Williams

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

Q. I want to ask, did the sweater bother you the first set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It was very cold. Because I went out to practice at six o'clock, and it was warm actually. But the wind was blowing. But when I walked out there, it was very cold. So I couldn't take it off.

Q. When you took it off, you started flying?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's when I started losing, you say?

Q. No.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I took it off at like 3-2. I lost the rest of those sets. Needed to put it back on. But eventually I had to take the jacket off basically.

Q. What turned this match around, and how important was your patience to stick with, no matter what Sanchez Vicario gave you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, when you go out there, you know you're going to have to hit a couple balls, a plethora of balls. You really have to make sure that you're patient and ready to go, and just ready to stay out there no matter what happens. And that's what I proved to do today. And she played well. It wasn't like she played badly. It wasn't -- I ran through her. And I think that I just happened to play a little better today.

Q. Were you surprised with some of her moves and did that prompt you to be more aggressive?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Was I surprised with some of her moves?

Q. With some of her moves.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I've been watching her for a long time, before I was on the tour, so I knew exactly what to expect. I was ready. She did hit quite a few nice passing shots. They just kept curving in, and there was nothing I could do about those.

Q. What is your confidence level right now going into Saturday's match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel great. I think that all I have to do is play well and make my shots, and be interested in winning.

Q. You see that as a potential problem that you'd be interested in winning?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, sometimes it is a problem, because if you don't have the right amount of interest, it can go badly.

Q. You see that being a problem on Saturday or you think you'll be into it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's just my pattern of speech, the way I talk, interest in winning.

Q. Second and third set you not only started serving better, you started attacking better. Do you plan on doing that against Lindsay? The last times you've played her, it didn't seem like you attacked her a lot. Tonight, seemed like every point at the net you were winning the point.

VENUS WILLIAMS: In the past, I didn't have any dedication to coming into the net. Maybe I was just -- I had made camp on the baseline. Recently I broke camp, because I saw that a lot of the shorter players were serving and volleying. I wondered why I couldn't get myself to the net. Serena made up her mind to serve and volley, and just to get in more. So that's something I have to do.

Q. Was part of the game plan in the second and third sets to kind of attack her forehand more?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that I was -- well, because she really has a lot of confidence in her backhand, but her forehand isn't a put-away shot. And so I felt that if I didn't want to run too much, that I should put it to the forehand. But in the end, she has great sides. She has two sides that are really solid. You just have to really wait it out.

Q. How much was this match a test of your maturity as a player, because of the type of player she is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think generally it is a good test, I suppose. I think that she really has been playing well this year, really picked up her game. And I actually had a loss earlier to her this year. Actually, it was -- what is it? 2-1 me this year, yeah. 2-All in total, so. I guess I played her a lot before I was ready. I guess the times I lost to her before was just because I didn't know what I was doing.

Q. What do you think is the biggest difference between yourself going into the semis this year and where you were at last year when you went into the semis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Last year, I don't remember really going -- what happened going into the semifinals. I remember it was a clear day. It was a very pretty day.

Q. Aside from the beauty of the day (laughter)?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I remember I was thinking on how nice it would be in Florida, and how nice it would be if it was that clear. But that's all I really remember besides some of the points I played in that match.

Q. Do you feel like you're a more confident player who knows the ropes now compared to last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. I think that I'm more wiser. I think I make more intelligent decisions. I'm able to really fight out there. I think that last year I played well also. There's nothing more I could have done. There's nothing more I can do about last year. A different player.

Q. Given the different style you face in Lindsay Davenport, what sort of match would you expect, and what's the key for you to do well against Lindsay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I have to expect a match that's going to be a lot more pace involved. It's ironic because there's so many different type of players on the tour. You play against Sanchez, someone who is quick, someone who wants to make a lot of shots, just mix it up, some power shots, some high loopers, but then you play against Lindsay, and she has a larger serve, more power, more flatter shot. It's a lot of variety on the tour.

Q. Why has Lindsay given you so much trouble in the past?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that in the past, it was just that -- like I played her three times last year. Last year was really just my first year on the tour. And I guess I didn't really know how to win. And this year I played her once at Australia. I fell apart. And I had one win in Oklahoma against her, my first title. And Stanford, there was a lot of things happening. So generally she just played better than what I had. So I need to step up my game.

Q. It seems last year you were really able to kind of thrive off of the crowds here, they were loud and really behind you. Have you felt the same thing at all? Do you think that is still coming as you advance in the tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the crowd has their favorites. I'm still a new player on the tour. Everyone has to make up their mind who they want to root for. I have to make up my mind how I'm going to play in the matches.

Q. Were you kind of defiant today towards yourself about, the first set you had 18 unforced errors, then the rest of the match you only had 17? Was that something that it seemed like you drove yourself to stop making errors?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, because the errors had to stop or else I was just going to be heading home. And there was just no other alternative, no other option available. So the choice that I had to make was to stop making the errors. And it's actually easy to do, because if you've been playing so long, you really ought to know what to do. Sometimes you're just not going to win. But today I felt I had the capacity to do so.

Q. How was the wind out there today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bit tricky. I don't think it was too bad. I think that both of us were concentrating on getting the first serves in. Usually I apply a little bit more power on my first. But today I was just spinning it in, second just spinning it in, because you don't want the wind to blow it around too much. Then there was some little soft balls that I kind of messed up on a little bit because of the wind moving around. But everything was okay.

Q. How much did the fans bother you today?


Q. Any point your dad is going to come back here?


Q. Do you know when?


Q. Do you think he'll be here for your semifinal match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so.

Q. Is that going to mean a lot to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it will be great.

Q. When he's in the stands, does that make you feel better?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think in the end I've had to prepare before the match. Sometimes actually I've played matches where there was no one there to support me. Because like my mom would be at Serena's match, and I was on my own. But that's okay, too. But it's nice when you have someone there, family. Because some players don't have that at all.

Q. How is the knee holding up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The knee's doing very good. I think it's also attributed that I didn't have too many tough first round matches also. I was able to rest. I had about three weeks, including that first week here at The Open, to fully recover, really being more serious about taking care of myself now. Because it was pretty terrible that I had to retire and to pull out of the tournament. I'm making better decisions.

Q. Do you think the two days will help with the rest between now and Saturday?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm doing well now. I'm not having any problems with my leg. I haven't had to take any injury time-outs. I'm really happy about that, so I'm going to try to continue in the same pattern.

Q. As close as you are to your father and your family, is it somewhat stunning to you that people like Mirjana Lucic would have to walk away from her father to play tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I really can't tell you what the situation is. And I guess the best person to speak to would be to her family. I think, you know, she's young. She's about 16. And she still has a long way to go. And her dad probably started her in tennis. In the end, he wants the best for her. So I'm sure that everything will work out.

Q. Do you understand a father hitting his kid? You're so close with your father, can you understand a father hitting his kid for losing a match or misbehaving in practice?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think he was out of line. But I think -- I really can't tell you because I've never been in the situation, and I wasn't there when some people might have went through this. So I can't tell you.

Q. If you were to win this tournament, what would be the most meaningful aspect of becoming the '98 US Open champion?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Being the 1998 US Open champion (laughter). I guess I wasn't in '97, so let's go for '98.

End of FastScripts….

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