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September 4, 2005

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. Early in the match, Aretha Franklin's Respect was playing. Was that a message to us?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not the D.J. so I don't think it was a message.

Q. You don't pay attention?


Q. Serena said you both played terrible, but played pretty decent there in the second set.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just feel like I had some bad patches. No, I think Serena had some tough patches, too, and then some good ones. It was tough. Obviously, it was windy every day. Today the wind was from behind, especially on one side, so that kind of like threw the serve off, for me at least. It just -- you know, yeah, yeah.

Q. Serena said it felt bizarre to play you this early in the tournament. How did it feel to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was bizarre. I think it was distracting for both of us, to be honest. It was just so crazy to get the same draw in Wimbledon, too. I'm really dedicated to getting my ranking up. I feel like, wow, I'm a very good player. There are all these people ranked ahead of me. After a while, I'm tired of being ranked low (laughter). I just feel like definitely I know myself I'm better than No. 10.

Q. The first set seemed more of a mental battle than a technical one. You got up pretty good to 5-3, seemed you were going to close it out. Slid till you recovered in the tiebreak.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I felt like I had an opportunity at 5-3 to break, but I didn't get that. Then 5-4, I had a pretty bad service game, two double-faults. I think Serena had like a monster return or two that I couldn't do anything with, which happens if you're playing Serena Williams. At that point it was just all about sticking in there, which I feel like I'm quite good at also.

Q. When you realize -- when you have to go this early, does it affect the match on the court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If I realize what?

Q. When you two realize that one of you have to go this early in the US Open.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we were sad when we heard the draw. We were. I was. We didn't talk about it till now. But it's hard because I want her to be in the tournament. I want her to win just as much as I want to. I mean, if it's a final, it's obviously different. But it was just like, it was super strange for sure.

Q. Were you more resolved personally at some deeper level inside to beating her this time than on other occasions maybe?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've always tried to win against her. Sometimes my efforts were thwarted by her amazing play. But I don't know. I think that possibly I've had more momentum I think because -- I haven't played -- played almost the same amount this summer, but just in general I think I've had more opportunity to practice and train than she has, so I think that gave me the edge.

Q. What did you do to train? Obviously, the Wimbledon win, seems like you dedicated yourself again.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I tried to train. After Wimbledon, I had, of course, Fed Cup and things like that. You know, I also had a patch where I couldn't train, too, for a few weeks in the middle of the summer. But the last two weeks before The Open, I was on the court trying to make it happen. Serena obviously just came off of the Toronto issue. So close. She was having to limit what she could do and just be realistic. It's hard these days, it really is. Injury is a part of sports, unfortunately.

Q. Can you compare Serena's play now to when she was at her peak in terms of her athleticism, explosiveness and consistency?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I would say that probably she just needs to be a little more consistent. Obviously, she has every shot. When she comes to the net, her volleys are quite good. Even in practice, she gets so many volleys. It's pretty deceptive. Like her coverage at the net, you think she's not going to get it, but she does. She definitely is on the verge of more great things, for sure. It's just all about having the opportunity to be on the practice court a little more, I think, be able to play a few more tournaments.

Q. Which is harder to play your sister, this early in a Grand Slam or in the finals of a Grand Slam?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's equally as difficult as far as the challenge of playing Serena Williams. But it's definitely more of a celebration to play in the finals. The fourth round, it's just really strange.

Q. Are you expecting a very difficult match if Kim Clijsters wins today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she always comes out with her best game against me. I feel like I'll definitely be able too play better on, what will it be, Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it. Serena's promised to help me get my game together.

Q. It seemed in the second set she was getting a little bit winded at a point where she wouldn't have been a couple years ago. Is that a fair assessment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't see. No, I didn't see.

Q. Do you consider the Stanford final against Kim sort of a one-off because you were tired after the five weeks?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Like I said, at that point I was at zero. The injury was actually burning. It was really hard for me because I wanted to play the tournament, but I felt terrible and tired and everything hurt. So in that case, I was a little bit upset because I just felt like under normal circumstances I really felt like I would have been able to win that match. But it's the past now, and she's playing really well. Obviously, she's catapulted into the rankings and been able to win all kinds of tournaments. She had a great summer and I would guess would want to capitalize on being No. 1 in the series.

Q. But did it do anything to your confidence to finally drop a match to her after that long?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I feel fine. I feel fine, to be honest, yeah.

Q. You have a history of doing really well after Serena crashes out early in a tournament. Do you think you'll get a little extra motivation and try to get one for the family?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. But my whole thing is just focusing on this quarterfinal. I can't do anything more than that right now, is this quarterfinal, whoever I play. You know, my experience, 25 years old, I've tried to simplify my life and just focus on the thing ahead of me, not next Saturday, whatever it may be.

Q. Do you do your own scouting reports on the other players? Do you and Serena say, "This person has this shot, watch out for this," that type of thing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we advise each other before matches. But it's pretty rare that we scout people. Most people are definitely are playing a similar game. Most people really aren't breaking out of the box in playing, maybe like a Fabrice Santoro type. There's not really that many players like that. So most people are playing pretty solid tennis and pretty similar. In that case, we do limited scouting.

Q. You've beaten Serena both times you played this year. She owned you for a while. How have you managed to sort of turn that tide?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I just wasn't used to getting beaten the way she beat me (laughter). Like I say, every time I step on the court, even if it's against Serena, I still feel like I should be the better player because really that's how we were raised to think when you came out on the court. So I guess that was probably a factor.

Q. Did you lose that for a while against Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: There were a lot of factors that I don't think I need to get into. Basically she was just better on the days that we did play and those times.

Q. Can you talk about the "Tie Together For Action," that you and Zina took up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Zina called my other sister Isha, who helps us out a lot. I guess she wanted me to focus on the tennis. She called and said, "Venus would be great to help out with this." Zina sent me some emails also. We're trying to pull it together. Zina is actually doing a lot of work to pull it together. As we see already, it's hard, even for the government, to get things over very fast. So we're trying to get the shoestrings here as quick as possible.

Q. Do you know who will handle the money, who will distribute it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really don't know.

Q. Could I respectfully ask, after what occurred here, the heart-wrenching horror of the gulf states, do you think you might reconsider your approach and try to get a little more awareness of the world as a role model?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just with the whole situation with me and the storm, I don't think that is even the story. I think the story is that people have lost everything. Some people have lost more than everything, because they lost their lives. So for me I don't think the focus should even be about whether I could leave West Palm or not, you know, if I knew that tropical storm Katrina at the time was coming, I don't think that's the focus. I think the focus is that people have lost everything. We all have to do our best, whether it's prayers, whatever we can do. It's just terrible.

Q. My question was more about the comment that you made that you don't follow what is going on.

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, the reason I don't watch the news is because I don't like violence. Obviously, my life has been touched severely by violence. When you watch the news, all you hear is reports of violence. So that's why, you know, I don't expose myself to that because it's heart-wrenching and terrible. The first thing you hear on the news is so-and-so got gunned down, so-and-so got shot, somebody got murdered. I just can't deal with it. Personally, that's why I don't watch the news. That's why I didn't know the storm was coming when I was in Florida. I really have personal reasons of not watching. Pretty much that's the story.

Q. With Kim coming up as an opponent, she's Belgian, how eager are you to come back to Antwerp and win the diamond racquet?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I know (laughter).

Q. Have you scheduled your next year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My whole thing is that I would love to win the diamond racquet, but at the same time the Bible says, "Store up riches in Heaven where things don't gather dust." That's what I try to tell myself, is that I would get the racquet, but it would just store dust. What could I do with it? At the end of the day, I would love to win the tournament. I would love to win the racquet. It would be a major achievement. But from a spiritual perspective, you know, I always try to keep things more simple. Yeah, I'm looking forward to coming back to Antwerp if I'm healthy and alive and playing tennis with a racquet in hand. Yes, I'll be there.

End of FastScripts….

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