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September 9, 2000

Venus Williams

Flushing Meadows, New York

MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. Would you consider this your sweetest victory of the year or is it just satisfying because you felt like you had something to prove and you proved it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I feel that it was a very nice victory because I feel like I played Lindsay when she was playing some of her best tennis, and I won the match. That was nice because I've beaten the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the rankings successively. That's always really exciting when you win a Grand Slam tournament, that you know you performed your best and beat the best performers, too.

Q. No matter what the computer rankings say, you won the two most prestigious tournaments of the year. Do you feel like the best player of the year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I feel very good. I've always felt like the best player. I think it's just about an attitude, the kind of attitude you take out there towards your game, towards everything, and it paid off. I wasn't playing too well in the beginning of the week, and even yesterday. But in the end, I guess I did the right things at the right time.

Q. After the match you said something to your father. Were you indicating that you were hurt somewhere?

VENUS WILLIAMS: We were just talking, you know, like fathers and daughters talk.

Q. But you haven't hurt yourself in any way?


Q. Can you talk about your ability to come back? You did it against Martina; you did it again today.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's like yesterday I really don't remember really what happened. I remember the first set, but after that I don't really remember too much until about maybe 5-All. And today, I was just playing. I didn't feel like I was playing the US Open final; I felt like I was just playing a game and that it was just only a game. That's how I felt. At one point, I didn't know in the second set if I was up 3-2 or she was up 3-2. I had to ask the umpire the score because I was just playing. So that's a nice feeling.

Q. Anything going through your head down 4-1 the first set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I had been playing all the wrong tennis, I felt, and my strategy was not working. So I just had to change it up. And I think it was just some minor changes, but it worked out.

Q. What did you change? What were the changes?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You never noticed?

Q. How does this compare to Wimbledon? You always said Wimbledon was the first you wanted. Now you have this.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, at Wimbledon I was playing pretty good tennis throughout the whole time, all the time - my serve, my forehand, my backhand. This two weeks, I didn't really play extremely satisfying tennis, and maybe even I was less confident than, let's say, Wimbledon. Wimbledon was something totally different. I just had a whole new attitude. It was like I was going there to win and I knew I was going to take it home. And then I did. But this two weeks, I've been a little shaky because I've been working hard but things haven't always gone the right way. But I played the big points.

Q. Can you talk about your emotions from a year ago and how you came back from that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I guess, as far as tennis, I'm a different person, just making it happen basically. Last year at this time I was watching Serena in the stands, you know, cheering her on. Whenever she made some mistakes, say, "That's okay, Serena." She pulled through.

Q. You didn't look too happy when she won.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course I wasn't happy. I played horribly. I mean, come on, if you had lost a match like that, you hadn't given it your best, you hadn't stepped up, do you think you would feel -- I still haven't gotten over that loss. Ever since then, I've changed my attitude. But it's good that she won, and I would never wish the next person would win. Come on.

Q. Did you talk to Serena after this match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, a little bit.

Q. What did she say to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, "The Brady Bunch" was on TV so we were watching it and talking about how much she loved it.

Q. Did she come back? You said she was in Florida yesterday.


Q. When did she?

VENUS WILLIAMS: This morning. She just walked in. She never called me and told me what time she was arriving.

Q. But you knew she was coming back?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. Well, she left me a note. She said, "I'll see you on Saturday holding up the check," something, I don't know. So I thought maybe she'd come back, but I wasn't sure.

Q. Were you disappointed that because of the rain, President Clinton left and wasn't able to see you play? Did you speak to him at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we did. There was a whole interview, I guess, on CBS. We talked about a few things that were pressing in the nation.

Q. Like taxes?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Like taxes (laughter).

Q. What did you say about taxes?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How I was really unhappy about my tax bracket. He said, "You really worked hard." I said, "See, I did work hard and I want to keep this for me and my earnings. I'm a good citizen."

Q. Does that mean you're leaning toward Joe --?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really know that much about the presidential race. I don't read the paper. I think that's the main problem. I don't watch TV. Sometimes I'm -- I don't know what's happening in the country.

Q. Do you vote?


Q. Not registered?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't vote.

Q. Can you elaborate on why there aren't too many African Americans in the Top 100 or the Top 50, you're the only two?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I would say there are more Czechoslovakians and Slovakians in the Top 100 than maybe black people. We just aren't playing that much. I'm only one person. I'm 20 years old. I can't tackle a problem of race. I'm doing my best. I'll do what I can.

Q. I just wanted you to give or elaborate on some factors why you think there aren't any. I know you're an individual person. I just would like to know if you have any idea on what the reason is.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because we like basketball and football. We just haven't played tennis as of late. Now we're more visible, so it should be going - hopefully turning different ways.

Q. How young were you when you started?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Four. I was around tennis all my life, though. I started at four, but I'm sure I hit some balls before that.

Q. What does it feel like to finally have done what you always thought the two of you would do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It honestly does not feel as like exciting as I thought it would, because you think that things will make you happy. But if you're unhappy already, it doesn't make a difference. When you're a tennis player - not for me - but a lot of times it's really a big part of my life. To be successful in the way that I am is really important. But I think you feel it more when you're unsuccessful, like last year when I wasn't very successful, than when you are. I'm really happy now, but I was really feeling it last year. It's great to win, but it was a -- there's a lot more things more important.

Q. Did you carry that feeling when you were down 4-1 in the first set, "I don't want to feel the same way I did last year"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt like I wasn't taking my opportunities very well. I was just missing a little bit too much, maybe even hitting it a little too hard.

Q. Did you feel Lindsay was playing high level?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She was playing high level, but I think I was giving her exactly what she wanted. I sat down at 4-1 and I thought about it. I said, "I can't feed her like this. " I was just giving her the spoon, so I had to change it up.

Q. How much do you think you were tested by Martina and Lindsay, and what sort of accomplishment is it to beat 1 and 2 back-to-back, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I did it at Wimbledon, and I've done it here. I know I can do these things. Yesterday, I really didn't play well. Today, it's a totally different match. It's the finals, and I just was able to keep my game under control because yesterday I had a lot of errors, and today I was just able to keep myself under control.

Q. Lindsay said she felt her serve really let her down in this match. You were five out of eight on break opportunities. Do you feel like you really took advantage of that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically if you miss your first serve, you're going to be a little bit vulnerable. I like to see second serves coming. I like to see first serves coming, too, especially if they're not around 110. I don't really feel very intimidated. I just feel that did probably play a role into it because you're always feeling on the defensive, you're always hitting second serves. I was taking some pretty good strikes at some of them. You just got to play your best when you get to the Grand Slam finals, because these days, especially since the 1997 US Open final, no one's giving these finals away.

Q. Do you feel that you get the level of support from the fans here at The Open that you deserve?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that when I play the lower-ranked players that it's very strange. But like yesterday, I just felt they applauded any point that was good. Today I just really didn't hear them. I don't really remember.

Q. Tauziat match, was that an example?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember.

Q. Are you looking forward to the Olympics?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I am. It's tough for the tennis players to go straight from here to the Olympics, but it's okay. I'm looking forward to it. It will be a good experience.

Q. What, other than tennis, will you be looking forward to?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To watching? From what I heard, you have to do a raffle with all the players. By that time I think I'm going to be a little bit tired because I've played a lot. I just am going to look forward to maybe seeing the city because I've never been able to do that before. I think for me that would be more interesting.

Q. The other day you spoke about going back to school. Can you clarify how much time you're going to take away from the tour versus going to school?

VENUS WILLIAMS: School starts in October. It's 11 weeks. So for 11 weeks I'm going to be grinding. I'll play one or two events during that time. It's the fall season. There aren't as many larger tournaments, so I feel like I can take the opportunity to do something a little different.

Q. How many classes?


Q. Can you discuss the dance that your father did at the end?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's not a dance really. I don't know why you all say it's a dance. He was just jumping.

Q. But he was looking to you to join him.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.

Q. You wanted nothing to do with it.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I really don't remember that.

Q. When you came back to Hamburg after your injury, at that time it was a tough time for you. Could you imagine you could win two Grand Slams in a row?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In my mind I felt like I could, but my game really wasn't there yet. I was really having a tough time keeping my balls in. All my balls were flying three or four feet behind the baseline. Even at Wimbledon, I was still having a little bit of a tough time keeping them in. But I got through it. Now I still feel that way sometimes, but it's better than missing short in the net. That's when you know you're really afraid.

Q. When you were down 4-1, in the past maybe would you have kind of said, "I have to hit more winners, be more aggressive"? It seems like this time you said, "I've got to stay calm, get a break back." Is it accurate to say that's how your approach differed?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's tough to say because now I think I'm a different competitor than what I was in the past because I was just competing. For me, it didn't matter if I was down 4-1. I was just competing. When I did that, I just managed to get that first set. It wasn't for me about the score; it was about the point and about playing well. I don't know. It's hard to explain. I was playing the game.

Q. When you talk about competing, do you mean on the defensive points when you were running side to side?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes I do have to get on the defense. I do like to dictate, but still all these two weeks, even last week when I was playing in the tournament before this, my balls are flying, and I can't keep them in. I feel like I have to keep myself under control. Today I didn't hit for corners really hard as much because I wasn't keeping them in. So I used my speed as an ally, I guess.

Q. At Wimbledon you were all excited about going to the gala in the dress you brought from Florida. What do you think you can do here to give yourself a special treat to celebrate this great win?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I've been eyeing this ring for a little while. It's a designer ring. They never go on sale. I believe I'll be able to get that.

Q. What store?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's at Saks Fifth Avenue in Florida. If it's not there, I'll get a nice piece of jewelry. Just one, though.

Q. You said you've always felt like you've been the best player. Will it affect you or bother you at all when you look at the ranking list and see third?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've done my best, really I have. It seems like I can't move forward, but I know I will. I will move forward, it's just a matter of time. I haven't given myself a platform to do it.

Q. Does that mean it's your goal till the end of the year to reach the No. 1 spot?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really won't play enough tournaments. I want to play tournaments. I think at this point I feel like -- see, I have a problem with getting bored. I'll start something and not finish. I went to school, and I have to go back and finish it because I have to finish things in my life.

Q. Does it mean that it's more important, the Grand Slam title than the No. 1 spot?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Grand Slam titles are great because everyone comes out and plays their best tennis. No one gives anything away. You have to stay concentrated because it's such a long period of time, two weeks. Being No. 1 is definitely one of my goals. I've never been there before, so I'm trying.

Q. Do you feel that your mental toughness is something you were born with or is it something you've developed over the years? If so, how do you approach it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was something that I was born with, but I think I lost it for a while, then I had to get it back - or else. I had no choice, either stay a mediocre player or move forward. It wasn't easy, but I moved forward.

Q. What are your thoughts on raw talent versus training? You and your sister seem to have a lot of raw talent that your careers have been built on, whereas there are some other players that get high-profile coaches and don't break the Top 5. How important do you think raw talent is versus training?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I don't know because I think at times it's even harder for the people who have a lot of talent because they don't work as hard, and things come easy. Then the player who doesn't have as much talent, they're working hard, doing their best, then they get on top. The other player is kind of wavering along. Either way you've got to work hard because you've got to build the confidence in what you're doing so you can do it when you're playing in the match situation. Whether you have talent or no talent, you've still got to work hard.

Q. Pete Sampras points to his losing to Edberg here in the final when he had to turn his game around. When did you know that you had to get mentally tough?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think maybe I was expecting people to give matches to me. Maybe that's what it was. It seemed like I would get to the point where I could take the match, but I didn't, and I would lose it. I think now I've just gotten to the point where I go out and take it, not just hope that someone will give it to me by making mistakes.

Q. You have two majors now. How many can you see yourself in the future getting?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never had a goal to have all the Grand Slam titles, more than anyone, more than Margaret Court. I've just had a goal to play good tennis as long as I can.

Q. When you came in and sat down, you looked at the trophy. When you look at the names on there, how do you feel when you know your name is going to be added?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Feels real nice because it's going to be right next to Serena.

Q. You now have the most Grand Slam titles in the Williams family. How does that feel?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I feel like we have three.

Q. How important is the support from your family?

VENUS WILLIAMS: There was a lot of people this week - sometimes too many. I guess in America, everyone wants to come to The Open, everyone needs a ticket. It's been good. Everyone's trying to help us out.

Q. Who is your pick for tomorrow's match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's nice to see the young people win, seeing that I'm one of them. I don't know. I didn't even think about it.

End of FastScripts....

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