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March 22, 1999

Venus Williams


VERONIQUE MARCHAL: First question for Venus.

Q. I want to know, what do you think about playing Zuluaga?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've played her 1996, first round of qualifications at Amelia Island, quite a long time ago. I think we both have come a long way as players, definitely. It's super, because she won her first tournament this year. I didn't know until they announced it. That's great, it happened in her hometown. It happened to me before I won here last year. That's great. She's definitely come a long way from the qualifying to the main round, beat Iva Majoli. It's great.

Q. Tough crowd?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. It's really great that they're really into it. It's not something that you see at every tennis game where it's so loud that you can feel it. It's kind of good.

Q. How did you feel out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel okay.

Q. How do you feel out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Like with the crowd?

Q. With the game, how your game was.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always feel I can play better. I believe I was playing too far behind the baseline today, not taking advantage of the short balls. That doesn't bring any opportunities.

Q. Do you remember a time it was that loud before? That was a pretty loud scene out there.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I've never been where it's that loud.

Q. Did it pump you up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was ready to serve. I was ready to play anyway. I had to do something. I suppose it could have. It's great to see the crowd is there and really involved. At least it's better than a crowd that's silent. "What are we doing wrong?"

Q. Did you play your best tennis tonight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I couldn't honestly say I played my best tennis.

Q. What is it like this time around coming in as defending champ? That's a role that's still kind of new to you.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never been the defending champ before until this year, so it's a good thing. At least I know I won last year. I didn't have any losses last year. I aim to do the same thing.

Q. What's it going to take?

VENUS WILLIAMS: A little better play. I'm a smarter player. I know what to do in situations. I know how to correct my techniques and to do what's right. If things go wrong, I think about what my parents have told me. I try to put that into effect.

Q. You have such a physical advantage over a lot of players out there. Do you find yourself relying on that more? Do you want to try to do different things out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's an advantage for me. I can use my game in any way that I see fit. Of course, I think the power is great, plus I'm a fast player. They have to hit the lines constantly if they want to win the points. I'm going to get there, unless I make a mistake, which is unreasonable to make mistakes. But I do these things. Until I can convince myself to stop, they're going to still keep getting points.

Q. At what point the crowd was so loud, you were waiting to serve. Finally you said, "I'm just serving this ball." Was that in order to kind of quiet them down? It has to be frustrating.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I was ready to serve. Doesn't bother me. I know what to do on the serve, I know how to get it in. I have to be prepared for all situations, no matter what the conditions are.

Q. Do you like having the family split up in different tournaments or together like this week?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's how it turned out this year. I had to go to Oklahoma. Serena wants to go to France. That's how it turned out. I had to take my break last week. If I hadn't taken a break, it would have been my fifth or sixth week in a row. I just don't do that. I do maybe three weeks in a row. It's tough on me. In the past, I have injuries. I have to take care of myself because of my height and my age. I grew so rapidly that I have to be good to myself as far as how many weeks I play, how I do things.

Q. If you make it to Sunday, do you want to see Serena there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know it.

Q. No?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know it. Of course.

Q. Did you watch her match today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I couldn't be there. I was here when she came on court, and I left. I hit with her before the match. I call like a half hour later, I call my dad, "Oh, the match is over." "What are you talking about?" I barely got back to the hotel just down the street. It's over.

Q. What has improved the most in her game the past couple months?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena has made up her mind to be a better player. She's ready to accept winning. Maybe in the past she wasn't able to, but now she is.

Q. You make it sound so easy.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you have to make up your mind. In the end, it is easy. It can't be that hard, hitting some yellow balls, having fun. Other people have it harder. You get to stay in shape, travel the world. It's not a bad proposition.

Q. Are you ready to accept her winning, if it comes at your expense?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At my expense?

Q. If you have to get through each other, like here.

VENUS WILLIAMS: When you go into the match, once the other person is on the other side of the court, it's a competition, no matter who it is. After you get off the court, things go back to the way they were. It's just a competition.

Q. Your father was quoted in the New York Times yesterday as saying he might split you up for the Slams next year.

VENUS WILLIAMS: You have to ask him.

Q. Does that sound accurate?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you have to ask him.

Q. What's your impression about Fabiola Zuluaga after the game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's a nice person. I tried to get her to hold her hands to the crowd, because I guess the Colombians were there and they loved her. She said no. I guess she's a little bit shy.

Q. She was down maybe.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe so. It's tough playing top players, so.

Q. Do you think the game was going to be easier than what it was?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you have to expect people to come out and want to win. You can't expect them to give it to you. These days, everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to collect money. Everyone wants to get a better ranking. No, I didn't expect her to come out and just give it to me. Especially, I played her a while ago, you always remember when you lose.

Q. How is the newsletter coming along?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Newsletter, April is issue is due -- what's today?

Q. 22nd.

VENUS WILLIAMS: We haven't even started on it. The worst part is we have to get April and May done before we go overseas. We have to get it done or there just won't be a May issue.

Q. Journalists love to procrastinate.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. We don't have to do it so we do it on our own time. I think the last issue was almost three weeks late. It's tough these days.

Q. You mentioned that you grew quickly. Is that your knees are vulnerable to injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, when you grow so quickly.

Q. Do you do anything to strengthen?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm much better now. I'm much better.

Q. At one point last year you told me you were thinking about going back to college, maybe at UM. Are those plans coming any further?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I will be attending college this fall. I made plans and I've enrolled. That's where I'm going to be.

Q. Pick a major?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Fashion design.

End of FastScripts....

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