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September 1, 1999

Venus Williams

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

WTA: Questions for Venus.

Q. Particularly in the first set, the crowd is rooting for the underdog. Do you take any offense to the crowd rooting against you or looking for more tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess it's not my job to understand the crowds; it's my job just to win the match. People are going to root for who they want to. I can't change any of it.

Q. In talking to your dad, I heard that you were coming down with a cold. How are you feeling tonight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm feeling okay.

Q. A little drowsy?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. You know how it feels when you get a cold, just kind of odd. I'm doing my best. I played the whole Lipton with a cold. I would practice, hit one serve, go (breathing hard). It was so ridiculous. I've had experience playing being a little bit sick.

Q. He said you were a little tired this morning. He wanted to kind of pace you for the two weeks.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. If it doesn't clear up some, then you just take it as it comes.

Q. Were you upset at all by her theatrics after every shot?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, if it helps her to play better, then she should do it. I can't control what she's doing over there. Obviously she feels the whole match. She just feels it so big.

Q. Over the years, you've played quite a few night matches here. How does the atmosphere here in New York compare to other places when you play at night?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's pretty good. The last two years that I've played here, it's been very good, especially the first year. This year, it's been a little bit quiet. It's such big stadium. It's more of an impersonal feeling. It sometimes just feels so vast. That can be part of it, too.

Q. When it's full, is it a place that you can really feel the energy from it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If you play good points, there will be a lot of energy. If you're breezing through, there will be less. Just depends on the match.

Q. Jana Novotna had some very positive things to say when she spoke to us. She said that you're much more focused, you're finally going into the tournament mentally prepared. "The only thing on her mind is finally to do well." I know you just told TV that you're ready to do well and focused on your next match. Could you take a moment and take that a step further? In your gut, do you feel this could be your year that you're ready to go all the way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always felt that, but I never had the win. I'm really trying to take the steps to really make it a reality. That all entails focusing more, trying to close out the points and the games when you have the breakpoints. Not that I didn't do that well tonight, but she did play nicely, and she did keep the balls deep. Those are some things I've worked on because as a player I have a choice: either I get better or stay at the same level. I want to get better.

Q. What's the one key thing that you've improved since your final appearance here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Ever since Stanford, right after Fed Cup, I decided I was really going to start hitting the ball. I'm a powerful player, but I start taking some pace off the ball and make mistakes. I wasn't making full use of my power that I had. I started hitting the ball, going for my shots more, and that really made a difference than just focusing.

Q. Are you worried your cold can develop into something more, that you won't be a hundred percent?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. I think it will kind of stay at bay until I've stopped playing. When I go home, I'll be real, real tired when I'm not playing.

Q. On the court today, did you feel a little weaker?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't feel a little weaker. No, I don't feel weak. I feel okay, fortunately. I just hope that it stays this way.

Q. Would you just as soon play in the day where the sun is shining, you can sweat it out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I love playing the day session. I love playing when the sun shines. That's kind of my thing. I like doing that.

Q. You were talking the other night about the fans, the good reaction that you've gotten. Is there anything a fan has done that has really touched you or been really weird?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I love when fans give me things, like a picture. When fans give me a picture, I love it. It's like I'm always signing, signing, giving, giving, which is okay. When they give you a picture, wow, that's great. It's nice when I get a picture.

Q. Have you gotten anything else besides pictures, anything a little unusual?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In New Haven I got a baby doll with a bead wig, not one but two bead wigs.

Q. That's impressive.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It really is. I have it. It's at my hotel.

Q. I was wondering, obviously your relationship with everyone in your family is a little bit different because they're different people. You have one sister that does play tennis, one that doesn't.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have three that don't, three others that don't.

Q. How is it different with Serena versus your other sisters?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not different. Naturally, they're all different persons. We all get along. We have a jolly time. The more of us that are together, the more crazier we are. It's just rowdy. When we're on our own, that's the most sane that we get.

Q. Obviously you can beat them at tennis. What do they do that you kind of wish you could do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They all get to go to college. I won't, at least when I'm young. I don't have the opportunity to go to my first choice. That's something I won't get to do.

Q. Do you hear their stories, late night hanging out, eating pizza or whatever?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure if they do that or not. I think it's just a good experience, not only that you get your education on a higher standard, but just everything that you might learn about life.

Q. In your years on the Tour, you've accomplished so much, international star, lots of fame, money, a role model for so many people. What's the one thing that's given you the most satisfaction over these years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I guess I really don't think about what gives me satisfaction. I'm mostly thinking about what more I do with my career. It's super when you see little kids who are out there playing. They say, "I started because we saw you play. We saw your sister play." That's super when you can inspire someone.

Q. Does your father accompany you to all the tournaments?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My mom and dad take different shifts. My mom takes the first shift. My dad takes the second shift all the way up till April. My mom takes the third. This is my dad's now. My mom goes again at the end of the year. It's about three different shifts.

Q. What happens when you and Serena are at opposite ends of the world?

VENUS WILLIAMS: We choose to play different tournaments. That's happened once. My dad went with me this time, when we won the tournament the same week, and my mom was with Serena.

Q. Do you wish your father would stop predicting a Williams/Williams final? Is that putting too much pressure on you and Serena?


Q. Do you get a kick out of it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't feel it's any pressure. I just feel like I have to come out here, play my best, take my opportunities if I can, and remember it's a game; just keep it simple, just play.

Q. What would be your first choice for college?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably FIT, but I can't go. They start their session like right now. I have to play the US Open. I have to go to schools that start in October.

Q. Martina Hingis was asked about your father's prediction of an all-Williams' final. She responded, "She always have a big mouth, they always talk a lot. It's always happened before, it's going to happen again." What's your response?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She said it happened before, it's going to happen again. As far as?

Q. Well, the quote was that, "She always has had a big mouth, they always talk a lot. It happened before, it's going to happen again."

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the quote is funny.

Q. Your response is you get a good chuckle out of that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's funny. I'm just here to play tennis. Naturally she is, too, out there working hard, winning matches. Guess that's her opinion. I don't quite understand it, that it happened before, it's going to happen again.

End of FastScripts….

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