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January 24, 2001

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. Do you think you might have been let out of jail today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't think so. I think I pretty much fought for everything I had. Toward the end I really cut down on my errors and I was able to move forward. Plus I've been in that situation quite a few times before, so I have a little bit of experience of being in the hole.

Q. Nevertheless, she did appear to have the match for the taking if she could have made a couple of exceptional shots.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think she did anything wrong, to be honest. I think I was just able to capitalize on some of the short balls. I moved forward, and I think I hit a few winners. I don't think she really just -- I think in the last game she had a few errors, maybe she was thinking too much. But I don't really think she did anything wrong.

Q. You seemed to be really laboring, particularly in the third set. At this stage, how is your health and your fitness?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess it's as good as it gets at this point.

Q. Really?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, if I'm not in shape now, it's too late. I just have to play this tournament, go home, get in better shape. I think more than anything, tennis is a mental game. If you tell yourself you're not tired, lo and behold, you aren't.

Q. Did you feel flat at times?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely in the first set I felt very flat. But I had to really pick myself up if I was planning on staying in the tournament.

Q. How do you do that? If you're having a slow start getting into a match, what is it that maybe you tell yourself or that you force to happen to get into it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's like a natural reflex. If I lose the first set or anyone on the tour loses a first set, just to really get back in there in the second, which I was able to do. Stayed on serve in the third till late. I think it's just not liking to lose. I don't like to lose. I really just didn't want to.

Q. Does it seem like you're getting to the point that you can kind of just turn it on, like Pete seems to turn it on sometimes and finish it out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't -- I don't think so, as far as turn it on. Today was not one of my better days, but I think I had no other choice than just to make the right choices. You know, I had no more room for error. So eventually I was able to do that, fortunately.

Q. Sometimes you go to your bag and look at notes. Did you do that today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I always have a set of notes.

Q. What are they telling you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically I just use the notes so that my mind doesn't wander in between the changeover, just to keep my mind focused on the match. That's what it's mostly for.

Q. Motivational sentences?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No (smiling).

Q. What did you tell yourself when she served for the match at 5-3?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just -- actually I just stayed calm and made a few shots, came to the net a couple of times. You know, my mom was really over there helping me feel better about myself, I was having a rough day. I really think that helped out the most.

Q. Did the roof closing play any part, either positive or negative, towards your outlook?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Actually, you know, it affected my hairstyle. I thought the sun was going to be out, so I pulled my hair back, put my hat on. If I had known they were going to close the roof, I would have worn a ponytail. It definitely affected my hair.

Q. Was there a time out there today that it felt like it was easier to not lose it than it was to win it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, there were times when I really just wouldn't move forward. It was terrible. I realized that I couldn't win the match like that. I could just, I guess, lose it. I've been in the situation before, like when I was younger. I would lose matches because I didn't move forward, and I didn't just take it to the person, make something happen. So that's what I had to do.

Q. Just like the last match, it was the service at the end that stepped up. Was that a conscious decision?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh-huh, yeah, because a lot of times there's a lot of pressure on your serves, especially in a match like that. Sometimes it's better to get the first serve in. But I always go for the big one at the end. I guess it was pretty close, but I always had a plan to hit an ace.

Q. Are you serving well enough to go further?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. I definitely think so. If I can just stay in there.

Q. Do the balls play any differently because the roof is closed?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not that I'm aware of. Not in my opinion.

Q. Is a match like that ideal preparation for your next match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In this case I can't be sure because we have a doubles match today. I believe the semifinals are tomorrow, including a doubles match also, providing that we do win the match today, which I'm hoping we do. In this case, it would have been better to have a 6-1, 6-1 win. But no matter what happens, you got -- I have to stay out there. So naturally I would have liked to have an easier match.

Q. Are you playing better tennis now than you were at the start of the tournament? Do you feel that you're playing better?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure exactly if I'm playing better. I just feel just confident in my competitive attitude, more or less. I'm always ready to compete; I'm not always on my best game. But I do feel like I can do the right things at the right time. I think that's the most important thing.

Q. Do you have a lot of respect for Coetzer's game? How would you say it plays against other Top-10 players?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that if you aren't careful on any day, she can really give you a bad day, ruin your tournament. So I think everyone respects her because she makes quite a few shots, she runs down shots, and she's improved her groundstrokes as far as producing winners. So it's definitely someone you have to be careful against.

Q. You talked about your mom's support. Is it just a vibe you get from her? Can you actually hear her saying things?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't really hear her saying things because of the crowd and the clapping, but I can hear her voice and I can see her. I don't look up a lot, especially if I'm really doing bad, I feel a little bit bad because I know what she's told me to do, and if I'm not doing it, then I feel a little ashamed, so I don't always look up. Especially like in the first set and the second set, I was feeling a little bit nervous to look up there. But when it's really time and I really need some support, I do look up.

End of FastScripts....

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