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August 30, 2000

Venus Williams

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus, please.

Q. In general, how do you feel about the way you're playing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel very well. I felt my forehand down the line right now isn't where I want it to be. I feel like I'm rushing a little bit, not enough top spin. But other than that, I feel confident. Especially in the big points. I feel like it's gonna go my way. I think also today I had a few service games when I was down 30-love and I was able to serve myself out of it or hit myself out of it, whichever way. So that was a good point.

Q. As you ascend in your career, do you think it's good to have a rival like Martina, plays completely different, tests you in different ways. Do you feel it's helped you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't even thought about that. I think what's helped me the most is getting out there and practicing.

Q. But when you go into a match against somebody who's not a power-player, do you feel that you can still play the same way and that she's not going to try to do something to throw you off?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think definitely when you play someone who has less power you feel like they aren't going to overpower you. You don't feel like they're going to hit winners or serve me off the court. So in a way you feel you have as much time as you need to set your point up or to take your time.

Q. So you're never concerned that she's going to try to throw you off by being patient or trying to outguess you on certain points, anything like that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I don't feel very -- TV is distracting. (Laughter.) I don't feel too much pressure. I think I have as much pressure as I put against myself, or as many mistakes usually depends on how the outcome of the match is.

Q. What have you been happy about in the way you've played in your first two matches and what have you been disappointed in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the first match I didn't play very well. In this match I played much better, especially as far as serving better. I think I returned a little better, too. I think the most thing I'm proud of is just the 30-All points or the 30-40 points, things like that. I think that would be the high point.

Q. Is it a progression as you get along in the tournament to be prepared for the tougher players?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the best preparation is starting before the tournament and even like in these rounds just concentrating on every point, even if you have 5-Love, 40-Love, just to really be closing it out and playing point-for-point and focusing to get yourself ready for the Finals and things like that, the later rounds.

Q. Do you prefer playing somebody like Martina as opposed to somebody like Lindsay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Doesn't make any difference. But usually I do like to play the higher-ranked player.

Q. Is something going on in your head that's saying, "Wimbledon?" Do you feel more self-assured than you would have say a year ago?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just think that now I'm willing to go for it, I'm willing to do the right things at the right moment. Maybe that's what it is. Because it takes a lot of guts, like not to be afraid. And in the end, you're afraid, match is over. All you can say is, "Hey, I have a lot of fear." It holds you back. Just doing the right things at the right time.

Q. When you played your sister in the Final at the Lipton and then in Wimbledon, there were crucial points in the match where Serena seemed to get tight or nervous against you, they turned out to be decisive points in the match. Do you think she's overcome that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. This is a very, very complicated question. (Laughter.) I think that Serena plays very well under pressure. I think we both play well coming from behind as well as playing in front. And I think those two matches where I played against her we played with each other every day, I know her game, she knows my game. I just think maybe at the Lipton Final I had a little more top spin than what she did. That's why I won that match, I was running every ball down. As far as Wimbledon, I guess I was able to hold serve a little bit more. At Wimbledon it was a game of serves, basically. Whoever was holding serve more was winning the match. So a couple breaks here and there made the decision.

Q. Of course it's different when there's several thousand people crowded around.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we like that. We feel badly if there's no one there and we're playing on a small court. If we're playing in a tournament and the tournament puts us on a small court, to us that means they don't want us to come back.

Q. If you knew you were assured of making the Finals, would you prefer that it's Serena you're playing against or someone else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, I would love to play Serena in the Finals. I would pick her to play. Of course whatever I pick doesn't make a difference because that's decided between all the players. But sure, I'd play her.

Q. You say it takes guts to overcome fear. Can you go back three years, you walked in this place, you were new to it, was there fear there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I was just playing tennis. To be honest, I don't know what I was thinking about. I never thought of things like if it's deuce at 4-All, maybe you should get your first serve in. I was young. I didn't know anything that you learn over time as far as playing matches. So I was just playing tennis and basically playing pretty good, I guess.

Q. John McEnroe is quoted in this week's edition of The New Yorker as saying, "Any good male college player could beat the Williams sisters and so could any man on the Senior Tour." I interviewed him and he reiterated that by saying, "If and when I ever do beat the Williams, Venus or Serena, whoever it is, all the money I make from the match will go to charity." Any comment on, first of all, his remark about women's tennis? And, secondly, would you ever consider playing John McEnroe?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know if I could fit him in my schedule right now. (Laughter.) I'm actually booked until April but... Other than that, hey, if he thinks that's the way to think. But I don't care who I'm going to play, I'm going to give myself the advantage because in my mind I can't go out there thinking I'm going to lose, if you do that, you're already a set down.

Q. I asked your sister the same thing yesterday. She acknowledged men are stronger --

VENUS WILLIAMS: If you're playing a college player, they just aren't as smart. They don't understand what it is to be at 30-All, 40-All in a big situation. They don't understand these things. So, therefore -- I played a lot of guys that were a lot stronger than me and I was smarter. Also, I think maybe off the serve. For instance, if I'm playing a guy off the serve, they may be stronger. But from off the ground, a lot of times I can play very well. But this is not important. I have a career and it's very successful.

Q. Specifically with John, though, do you think you could take him because of his age?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't think it's fair to put a 20-year-old against a 40-something person. So I'll let that pass.

Q. Can you see the way Tiger Woods is dominating in his sport, do you ever wonder if it's possible for you or for your sister, for anybody to dominate this way in this sport?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, sure, it's been done. Navratilova went a year and lost only one match. When Monica was out in the early '90s, she had all types of winning streaks. And Steffi won four Grand Slams in one year plus the Olympics. So, sure, it's been done.

Q. Have you taken any -- seen what he's done now, have you said to yourself --

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really watch golf. It goes a little too slow. But that guy, he seems to be a real winner, to say the least.

Q. When you go down to Sydney, would you be disappointed if you didn't bring home the Gold for the US?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That seems so far away right now. Days are passing pretty slow. By the time this Open is over, I'll have time to think about it. Right now, flying to Australia seems like a long way. When I get there, I think my chances are pretty good, to be honest.

Q. Does that -- is that a bit of a distraction in this tournament? Are you able to put Sydney off right now and say, "Right now I've got to focus on the US Open and that's down the road"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think for a tennis player it isn't as exciting as for a track-and-field person. The Grand Slams for us is where it's at. Tennis hasn't yet been high-profile at the Olympics. Plus, for one of us players it's going to be very mental for us to go from here straight to the Olympics. The US team has to leave the 12th and that's going to be tough for us. Basically we're going to say, "Hey, ready to play again." I think it's going to be a lot of fun but it will be a long run.

Q. Is there any athlete down there you're looking forward to seeing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't believe we're staying in the Village. Not really. Just gonna play tennis and rest some, hopefully go to the beach.

Q. I know every tournament you go into you consider yourself a favorite, but is it any different for you now that in this tournament you're considered by many, "The favorite," particularly because of your success?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a nice thing. I've been playing pretty well. How many wins is this now?

Q. Twenty-one.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Twenty-one, yeah, it's nice. It's been a long time since I've experienced a loss. So it's a good feeling. What was the question? (Laughing.)

Q. The question was I know you consider yourself a favorite at most tournaments. Now that you're considered one of the favorites, is it different? Do you feel yourself being treated differently by the crowd, the media?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I definitely think when the players walk out on the court with me they feel a little bit intimidated possibly. I don't think they feel they can run through me, or more or less even win the match. I think they're gonna come out and give a good effort, but I don't really think they feel in their hearts that they can win.

Q. You talked before about some of the men's players on the Senior Tour and also in college. Where do you think your serve would rate among the men?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Now that I've improved my second serve, right up there with a lot of the guys, I believe. But I'm a lady. I don't want to play with men's Tours. The lady's Tour is where it's good to be at right now. I want to be right here.

Q. Where does it rate among the ladies?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say I'm the best. Serena has a very good serve, too. As far as placement, her serve would be better than mine. As far as serving off the tees, I don't always have the best place in my serve. I think my serve's the best. I'm sure if you asked her, she'd say her serve was the best.

Q. Pete Sampras took a shot at your serve the other day. He said, "To be honest, I don't think she knows where it's going."

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I know where it's going.

Q. Serena, yesterday -- she looks much more muscular. Is it genetics? Has she been working out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, it's genetics. Serena's not going to the gym. She's always been like that, even when she was little. When she was little, she was small and short, but she was muscular and cut. According to the teachers, she would be showing her muscles, threatening people. But she's always been like that.

End of FastScripts….

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