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September 5, 1999

Venus Williams

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

WTA: Questions for Venus.

Q. Do you feel a little sorry for Mary Joe? You looked concerned.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That was terrible. At the beginning of the point, it was just a little bit. As we exchanged a few shots, I guess it started raining much harder. I didn't notice it too much. I guess I did. But then she went down. I was like, that was unfortunate. She had a really bad injury. She just came off of a wrist injury, so hopefully she's not injured.

Q. What was wrong with you in the first set? Looked like you were feeling lousy.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I haven't played a singles match since Wednesday. I just was off. I couldn't seem to be able to get my rhythm. She started making some good shots, too, hitting some lines, pinpointing shots. I had to find a way to get back in it. After two rain delays, I finally started playing better.

Q. Was your flu affecting you at all in the first set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I'm better now. I'm actually having a pretty good recovery. I'm better.

Q. How much do you feel like you dodged a bullet today with the rain delay allowing you to regroup, the injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, when did the first rain delay come, anyway? I don't really remember.

Q. 5-2.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I've been down before in sets, in matches. I would have actually found a way to come back. I believe I would have. Whether or not I could have, I'm not sure. The rain delays did occur. I'm sure that helped some. I can't change anything that happened.

Q. Do you think she was a completely different player after the injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I got a break or so early in the second, just one point, up 3-Love. I started playing more consistently, stopped missing a lot. Once you start doing that, you aren't giving so many points away, then it's different. But I don't think she started making as many shots, all the great shots she was making in the first set.

Q. What did you do during that rain delay? You seemed to have so much more energy when you came back.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was just able to think about what I was able to do. I had a banana.

Q. Because of the walkover, you said the flu, your sickness, which limited your practice time, are you able to judge how well you're playing right now, especially with this kind of disjointed match today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I know for a fact I could raise the level of my game when it counts. I've done it a lot before. But the thing is, I shouldn't be raising the level of my game; I should be playing wonderful tennis all throughout this next week. So whether I do that or not, that's going to be important. I'm looking forward to my next opponent. Looks like -- what's the score now? Schett maybe.

Q. She won.

VENUS WILLIAMS: She won, yeah.

Q. Are you able to judge how well you're playing? We're entering the second week of a Slam. Usually, most people know how they're playing around this stage of the tournament.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing well. I think that I'm playing the breakpoints well, the game points well. I actually think I'm serving well, also. I'm serving consistently. It feels very comfortable, my serve.

Q. Did you say to yourself, "I'm going to move her around because of the injury and take advantage of that"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, that did come to mind, that maybe she could be injured. I'm not sure. Looked like she was moving well. I don't know. I guess you'll have to ask her. I think she moved quite well afterwards.

Q. When you came back after the long delay, you were serving at 2-Love, it was your ad. You win the next point; you have a 3-Love lead. If you lose that point, you could be in for quite a battle. Did you think during the break how important that point was going to be?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. I just felt like I was going to win that point. Especially when I came out, I was feeling pretty comfortable. I had some time to think about what I was doing. I just was ready to play. I felt a lot more comfortable.

Q. How much did that injury that she suffered affect the rest of the match, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure. Obviously she didn't make as many great shots as before, because I was giving her some short balls, and she came in and hit the corners. Wasn't too much I could do about it at that time. I guess it's best for you to ask her how she felt.

Q. Do you think they should have stopped the match before that point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think in the middle of the point it just started coming down much harder. Before, it was only a few spots. After about six or seven strokes, it was pretty wet, I suppose. But the match would have stopped after that point. It was in between the point where all the damage came, I think.

Q. What about Barbara Schett, what do you know about her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play quite a few matches because I'm on Tour. I've played a lot of matches after her, so I get to see what she's doing. I've only played her once, last year in the second round of Wimbledon. I'm sure she'll want to play much better this time. I would like to play much better than what I played today.

Q. You mentioned you should be playing wonderful tennis all throughout the second week. What are the things you want to pinpoint, target, to play wonderful tennis from here on out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely would like to be more aggressive, moving forward, everything else. With my next match, hopefully it will be a pretty challenging match to get me ready for the next two rounds that I'll be playing. So I'm looking forward to a good match just to prepare myself. Naturally, I'm going to have to be ready because Barbara Schett, her first time she has to get to the semifinals of a Grand Slam.

Q. Is there one particular adjustment you try to make when you feel that your game is off? For those of us hacks who play recreationally, do you try to look at the ball coming off the opponent's racquet or say, "Move your feet more"? What does somebody on your level concentrate on to bring your game where you want it to?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you have to first look at what you're doing that might not be right. For instance, I got more or less caught up into playing her game. I have a power game. She has a game where she places the shots well. When she has the opportunity, she uses her power. I got caught up into using her game. Also I was producing quite a few short balls which gave her the opportunity to look like an All-American. I looked like the last NFL pick. That's how I looked.

Q. There's two different ways to play tennis. I mean, your top serve was 121 miles an hour and hers was 88. Does it strike you there's a real variety in the way you can play this game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's really super. The best part is when something isn't working, if you know how, you can change the way you're playing and try different strategies. You can start rushing the net, start throwing up higher balls. Anything can happen in tennis. It is pretty interesting because we definitely have two very opposite games.

Q. You never played her before, then in the first set, you got down a little bit. Did you think to yourself, "This is a veteran player, this is going to be a little more tricky maybe than I thought"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know that she's played quite a few matches, been in quite a few situations. Most of all, you have to -- I had to realize that I was giving away the match with a lot of errors. No matter if the player is a player who has just gotten on or a really experienced person, if you're giving away the match, it's going to be easy for anyone to win.

Q. Does the day affect your spirit at all, the fact that it's rainy? Do you think that affects your energy level?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like to play when it's sunny and when it's hot. I like to play that most of all. The first match I played was very windy. It was good because I was prepared for this, for this match, a more important match. That was nice that I got to play a match in the wind earlier.

Q. Do you feel you are the player to beat this year here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's possible that I could be. I could be the player to beat or the player to meet. We'll see.

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