March 26, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
MIKE BROEKER: First question for Venus.
Q. When you pointed at the end of the match, that was to signal "You and me for the final"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, yes.
Q. Was that a prearranged signal?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm a spur-of-the-moment person.
Q. What does it mean to you to now face up to her in a final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's real great, you know. We both played well. I heard Serena came through a lot of comebacks in her match. She wasn't playing her best tennis, but she was able to come through. I raised the level of my game from playing so many bad matches earlier. We both came through in different ways. It's great.
Q. First of many?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically. Exactly.
Q. What was your first competitive match the two of you ever played?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, boy. It's in the record books, I guess.
Q. You can't recall it off the top of your head?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really, huh-uh.
Q. The matches between you, you always seem to win .
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was the past.
Q. But can you tell us what it is that enabled you to win those matches? Is it something that's in your head tactically or in terms of technique?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess I was a better player that day. I guess it was a year ago, it was a little while ago. I guess it's tough sometimes when you're the younger sister. When you're the older sister, maybe it can be tough, too. But Serena has improved her game. Not improved, but she's just better, really better, which is great.
Q. Your sister has come steaming up the rails in the last three or four weeks.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, she's been playing pretty well. I've been predicting it. It's y'all who haven't been listening.
Q. Have you had any input into her improvement?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I do my best to help. She does her best to help me. It's a mutual thing.
Q. So what happens now over the next 24 hours?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just regular. Keep living.
Q. Will you talk about the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably not. We never have.
Q. Opposite ends of the house till Sunday?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. We aren't like that at all.
Q. Will you practice together?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, yeah.
Q. Just like any other regular practice session?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically.
Q. Did you expect to defeat Steffi Graf in two sets as you did, in the way you did?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I love playing good tennis. Today I played good tennis. She played well also. I was just able to play better, make less unforced errors. In the past, I've played Steffi and I've won the first set and dropped the second. To me, it wasn't necessary. Maybe to her it was necessary to win the second. But for me, I would just like to go ahead and win in straight sets. So today was something unprecedented for me.
Q. Was that the best you've played this tournament, do you think, this week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. I wasn't playing well at all in any of my other matches, just enough to get by.
Q. You seem to have found your rhythm slowly during the tournament. Today you looked so relaxed, even though you were very fast, hitting very hard. You seemed to be very fluid, very natural.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I'm a pretty good player, I guess (laughter). I've learned a lot. I've learned, you know, how to place the ball, how to move it around, what shots to make, what kind of shots you want to make on a player like Steffi or Jana or another player. So, definitely, I've come a long way.
Q. Very fluid tennis.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you.
Q. Would you say a new era has arrived in women's tennis as of this week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess so. It could be said.
Q. Would you say it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I could say it, yes. A new era has arrived this week in women's tennis (laughter).
Q. How does your father feel now that both are in the final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, he was real glad. We worked real hard, had some tough, tough, extremely tough - did I say it was tough? - Extremely tough losses. We've come a long way. It's what we always thought we would do, so it's a wonderful thing.
Q. Sometimes when you face an opponent, you have to kind of feel the other person out. When you're playing against your sister, what kind of tennis can we be looking for?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, we both need to keep our games at the same level. I really, really hope it's super tennis. I'm going to do my best to play well. She's going to do her best to play well, start serving better. I don't know if she was serving well today or not. I really haven't had time to find out what was happening in her match yet.
Q. Does it make it more special that it's actually going to be in the States?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That it's in the States?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess so. I'm not quite sure. I'm not sure.
Q. You didn't see any of your sister's match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I had a match tonight. I stayed as long as I could. I left around 3:15, relaxed.
Q. I know you don't like looking back too far in the past. Can you remember that day in Australia when the two of you played each other? Can you remember what it was like afterwards, before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's pretty hazy, yeah. I don't really remember.
Q. Was it strange to play her competitively?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. It's great that it's in the final, definitely.
Q. How do you remain composed when you play against someone you love, a family member?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In the end it's a competition. The best competitor wins. As soon as you walk off the court, the competitions are over.
Q. But you hate to lose.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't mind putting my name and losing in the same sentence. Winning and Venus sounds great. Serena doesn't like to lose either at all, never has.
Q. What about your father's loyalties? They'll be a bit torn.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. He'll be glad for both of us. It will just be the same. It's like I won a point, Serena won a point.
Q. With the finals moved to Sunday, do you feel that women's tennis is now surpassing men's tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really didn't think about it that way. I don't know why the finals are on Sunday. Why the guy's final is on Saturday. I couldn't tell you. I can tell that you Serena and I both have a date on Sunday, early in the afternoon, I suppose.
Q. She said the other night, we were asking her about playing Hingis, was that her ultimate test. She said no. We said, "What is your ultimate test?" She said, "What do you think?" We said, "Playing your sister." She said yes. Do you go along with that as well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely I would say so. Serena is a tough player. She gives it all her best. She's really been improving, learning, making her shots. Yeah, I think so. She's playing great.
Q. Do you think it's fair to say that you and she are playing currently the best of any two women players in the world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We both have raised our games since the beginning of this year. In Australia we were very, very, extremely disappointed with our play. We went on, we worked hard. We came back in February as new people. We could have even got new names, so. We worked hard. We've seen the success.
Q. What would your name be if you had a new name?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Come on (laughter).
Q. You said you and Serena have a date on Sunday. Then what?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Then we go home. That's all.
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