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July 8, 2000

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Venus Williams.

Q. Can you describe your feelings now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel really calm. I love winning Wimbledon. I love playing tennis. I love winning titles. And I realised, you know, I wouldn't be any happier in my life in general if I won or lost. Sure, in tennis, the tennis part of my life, I'd be much happier. But winning, losing, money, riches or fame doesn't make you happy. So for my tennis career, this is great. But as far as being Venus, it doesn't really make a huge difference.

Q. Had you planned to go up in the stands like that afterwards or was that spontaneous?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was just pretty happy at that point because I had let a lot of opportunities go in that second set. Finally I pulled the tiebreak out without a huge, huge struggle against myself. I was pretty happy.

Q. Did you want to share it with your family at that point in time? Was there anything in particular you said to Serena or your dad?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't say anything. If I did, I don't remember. It was great because we have two singles Slams in our family, four mixed doubles, and two doubles. We're racking them up now.

Q. Is there a sense of equality that you each have a Grand Slam now or are you just happy to win it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I always expected to win Grand Slams. This is just good for me. This is good for my career. That's all I feel.

Q. What does the phrase "Venus Williams, Wimbledon Champion" mean to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: This was meant to be. I didn't serve and volley it out, but the first four matches I was serving and volleying. So that counts for something. Maybe next year I'll get through seven serving and volleying.

Q. "Meant to be," what do you mean by that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I worked real hard all my life. I had a lot of sacrifices, I had a lot of injuries, and I had a lot of tough loses, too. But I didn't let that get to me. I kept working hard and I kept believing, even at some points when I didn't have a reason to because I played so badly sometimes.

Q. A fan asked your dad, "Could you tell me when you gave Venus her first lesson?" He said without hesitation, "Four years, six months, one day." Do you remember back that far?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely not.

Q. Was he telling you right along you were going to be Wimbledon Champion someday?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. In our family, it's positive. We don't just work to be professional. We're happy to be on the circuit. We worked hard to be the best because for us, why play if we don't believe we can be the best? Okay, maybe, sure, one day maybe we didn't turn out to be the best, but if we worked toward and believed it, that's all that counts.

Q. I believe when you were very young, sort of eight, nine-ish, your father took you to see Chris Evert's Wimbledon trophies. Do you remember that?


Q. Do you remember, in fact, when was the first time that Wimbledon meant something to you and you knew what it was all about?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe the first time that Wimbledon meant a lot to me was when Zina was doing so well in 1990 when she beat maybe Monica in the quarterfinals. Am I correct? And she beat Steffi in the semis. I was only ten. But, you know, that meant a lot to us. We would be out there practising on the courts in the afternoon. This is the summer, so we're out of school. This guy who walked his dog came by. My dad, he's friends with everybody, talked to everyone. Talked to this guy, "What's the score out there?" The guy would tell us the score. "What happened?" "Zina won the first set." I remember we were out there practising when Zina won against Monica, against Steffi. I don't remember, I think we got to see the final. I don't know if it was on tape or if we saw it live.

Q. What were you reading on court? You had a note there.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Those are my notes just in case I forget something like to stay low or something technical, just in case I forget. "Oh, that's not what I'm doing." It's only a few things.

Q. To keep your mind --?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Keep my mind focused or to stay relaxed.

Q. It was only in March your dad told us he kind of advised you to take the year off and maybe not even come back to the game. Does that seem like kind of bad advice to you and him at this point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It took so long for me to get better. It was just really strange because I missed the Australian Open, I thought that would be the only tournament I missed. Before I knew it, I was missing Oklahoma, one of my favourite tournaments. Then I missed the next week in Scottsdale, then the Lipton. So it was starting to get pretty unbelievable. "Where is this going to?" It was really strange, it took so long. I couldn't do anything because I had to use my hands, but I couldn't use them.

Q. Could you tell us about your feelings the moment the match was over and you started a sort of dance, beautiful one, jumping beautiful.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's from my ballet classes when I was a kid.

Q. Althea Gibson gave Zina a message to give to you before the match, which was to bend your knees. Zina said she didn't give it to you because it would make you nervous. Do you have a message for Althea now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I knew she was watching when Serena won the US Open. She said that she was happy that she got to see another black person win it in her lifetime. So now I think it's really a privilege for me to win this Wimbledon while she's still alive.

Q. Have you met her before?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. Only talked to her once on the phone. I didn't know what to say. She said, "Why are you so quiet?"

Q. Your dad had a sign up saying, It's Venus' party, no one is invited. Is that an old family saying?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I guess he just made it up.

Q. Can you appreciate how hard it would have been for Althea Gibson in her time? Obviously Zina Garrison's victory impressed you. Can you image how difficult it was for her to break the colour line in tennis and how much it meant for the whole generation that followed?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it had to be hard because people were unable to see past colour. Still these days, it's hardly any different because you have to realise it's only been 40 years. How can you change years and centuries of being biased in 40 years? So realistically, not too much has changed. But I really appreciate how hard it was. You realise not everyone wants you to win, not everyone's going to support you - and that's okay.

Q. Are you aware of the excitement you caused on this side of the Atlantic? You're an icon within the black sphere. Are you aware of the emotive aspect? I had about ten calls by the time you won. "She did it, you're there. What's going on?" Are you aware of that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we're really aware of that. We know the black people are really top supporters. When you go to Germany, the Germans support the Germans. We really relate to each other, of course. We're black. We fought for everything we have.

Q. But in the actual sport of tennis.

VENUS WILLIAMS: People are turning their TV and suddenly they see this black girl playing tennis. "What is this?" We're out there grunting and speeding.

Q. I was actually in the States when your sister won the US Open. In my home it was crazy. It's exciting times.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, because we're doing something different that hasn't been done very often.

Q. Do you think you will have an impact along those lines and encourage more African Americans to play?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, I think a lot of people will look and see. But also you have to get out there and help out, let people see you start programs. That would definitely be something that I and especially my dad could help to start. Because, sure, things can happen, but you've got to put your hands on the ball and get it moving.

Q. Do you have talks at schools or anything?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The tennis academy in LA.

Q. You said at the beginning of this about this being great for your tennis. Does winning give you that luxury of a new perspective, saying, "Hey, my tennis is my tennis"? Sometimes when you haven't won, that's all you can think about.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I guess maybe if you haven't won yet, you can let it ruin your life. After Serena won the US Open, you can see that she's the same person. You realise that winning isn't everything. After you win, you go home. If things aren't right at home , you have bad health, whatever problems you might have, it doesn't make a difference whether you won or lost.

Q. What about when you had that game, serving for the match, what was going through your mind?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really think I was going to lose serve. I had two double-faults, a few unforced errors. In the end, I think just my technique broke down. But I just wasn't going to let it hold me back today. I tried my best.

Q. Do you think that was nerves?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just don't think I was calm. I wanted to hit the ball before it could even get over the net, which sometimes isn't good, because you rush.

Q. Were you aware of your father's placards?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I wasn't looking up until the end, then I saw something. My eyes aren't that good in the distance, so I couldn't really read it.

Q. Were you concerned about it might go to a third set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, because I was thinking about that moment exactly, pulling out that set. If something strange happened, it had to go to the third set, then that's what would have had to happen. But, no, not really. I was concentrating on winning that tiebreaker and holding serve.

Q. Was there one particular aspect that you tried to exploit against Lindsay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, Lindsay really has improved her movement and her fitness. They're starting to become a plus for her. But definitely I was going to try and move her around. But most of all I was going to play my game, hit my big serves, especially since my second serve has improved drastically in the last two matches. I knew I was playing two power players. I was playing Serena. I was going to play Lindsay. I started hitting these 90 mile-an-hour second serves.

Q. Why do you think it was so difficult for both of you to hold serve?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really think we were both just feeling pressure. For me, I know I was rushing too much. I wanted to go get it before it came. That doesn't work.

Q. When you went to celebrate with your family. It appeared there were several times they tried to pick you up to put you on the commentary box with your dad, but it didn't work. What was going on there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't want to be picked up.

Q. They were trying to pick you up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. My height, if I fall, it's going to be a problem.

Q. You said you picked out your Wimbledon ball gown. Can you talk about when you went to pick it out, what you were thinking?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't want to spend a lot of money. I was bitter because of my French Open result. I felt I didn't deserve to spend any money. I had one dress I could wear, but it was last year's, it wasn't the right colour. Colours have changed since then. So I had to go find a dress. We had only limited time because we were doing a lot of therapy, we were working out twice a day. I was scrambling around the mall finding a dress. It was an extra incentive because if I didn't win, I wouldn't get to wear this wonderful dress. I went out and I found the dress. There were beads falling off of it, so they had to go call another store, find another dress the same, then repair the dress. So I went through a lot to get this.

Q. That was in Florida?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I bought my dress in Florida.

Q. How much was it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not going to say.

Q. How long before Wimbledon was it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: There was only eight days I stayed home from the French to Wimbledon. So I got it the day before . No, I picked it up the day we left.

Q. Serena got one, too?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She got one. She was a little more generous.

Q. What do you think you learned about yourself here? What do you think you proved?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, in a lot of matches, a lot of my tough matches, especially last year starting at the French Open, for some reason I started losing these matches when I would get in the third set. Usually before I would be able to pull those out, no problem. But at the French Open, I lost a tough match, and then last year at Wimbledon I lost this tough match, and at the US Open I lost a tough match. So it was starting to become a trend. So for me it was a lot more pulling out the big matches, no matter what I had to do, just go for it. I think most of all prove to myself that I can do this again.

Q. Do you think this will be like the opening of the floodgates for you in terms of your future in Grand Slams?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. Why not? In this Wimbledon, I played my game. I never took anything off my serve. No matter if I double-faulted or not, I went ahead and hit my big serve. On my groundstrokes, I didn't start waiting for someone to miss; I just went for it, whether I missed it or not. I played my game, no matter what the consequences. Today I didn't move forward too much because I just didn't want to come to the net. But still I feel I played my game because in the past there probably would have been a lot of times where I would have started taking pace off my serve to get the first one in. You know, what counts is I went for it.

Q. What did Serena say to you after the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She said, "Great job. " She was really, really getting emotional there, trying to hold it in.

Q. Have you been wearing any lucky charms on court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, my mom gave me a choker, but I didn't wear it in the last two matches because I forgot to wear it.

Q. Talking of charms, the last time I watched one of your games, you dropped a shell. I picked it up and gave it back to your father. What is the relevance of the shell?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Someone gave it to me.

Q. Were you aware during the match that your dad kept holding up the signs? In a commentary on TV, Martina Navratilova said it was unfair to other players, a distraction, shouldn't be allowed. Was that a fair comment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Everybody has their own opinion.

Q. Were you aware that your dad was doing this?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I told you I didn't see it. I was mostly looking at my notes.

Q. Do you feel your victory may be even a little bit more meaningful because of the caliber of players that you've beaten on the road?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely think so. I got here in the Grand Slam, I beat No. 1, I beat No. 2, and I took out No. 8, which was not easy. I think maybe I was most concentrating on that because I knew she was like the best player in the draw. She was playing the cleanest.

Q. You said you dreamt of winning a Grand Slam. Was Wimbledon on the top of the list?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't remember. You mean literally or just daydreaming?

Q. Yeah.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I dreamed of winning Wimbledon, sure.

Q. Was this Slam on the top of your list?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Every Slam. It doesn't matter.

Q. If you had to choose one word to summarize your experience here, what would that word be?


Q. Why?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I got the job done. I didn't let anything hold me back - not No. 1, not No. 2, not No. 8.

Q. Any significance to the shirt you're wearing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It was a clean shirt.

Q. Do you know there's a name for the trophy you held up above your head, the Venus Rosewater. Does that mean something to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's pretty cool, you know. It's a great name. I like to say so.

Q. You're guaranteed an Olympic singles berth. The fourth one is announced Monday.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand.

Q. If Serena is not chosen for that doubles berth on the Olympic team, would you still go to Sydney?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I have to talk to Serena, see how she felt. Being in the Olympics is great. We'd have the opportunity to win two golds, or I would at least. But if Serena wasn't happy, I don't think I would go. But I really want to.

Q. Do you think the (if there was?) ranking in Grand Slams, this is the No. 1?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone seems to think so.

Q. At what point in the last two weeks did you really know you were going to win the title?

VENUS WILLIAMS: When I bought my dress.

Q. Which was when? Before you came?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Before I came, because I had to make myself a promise, so I bought the dress.

Q. What colour is it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You'll have to wait and see.

Q. What do you think of the British crowd, Venus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the British crowd is very fair, unless of course you're playing against someone from Britain.

Q. I mean today specifically.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't hear too much, but in general I think they're very fair as far as rooting for the person that's down or rooting equally for each person.

End of FastScripts....

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