March 29, 2001
THE ERICSSON OPEN, MIAMI, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: First question.
Q. With everything that is going on in the last week or so it would have been easy for you to get off track. How have you been able to maintain the focus on your tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me, it is really not very difficult because in my opinion all these things going on around me are not very important because I have more important things in my life, so many more important things and most of all because tennis is not all and everything for me. So I really been able to really keep my game under control. I haven't been overhitting really, that is the most important thing. I have been serving alot better this week too.
Q. With the wind out there, were you trying to simplify your toss a little?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely brought my toss down a little bit which was sometimes a little bit detrimental. I hit some balls really long, but other than that I was okay. Serving my second serve halfway decent but the wind was a factor. I don't know if it will be windy on Saturday, but I will definitely take that into consideration in my next practice.
Q. Do you think your fast start made all the difference in this match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. It is a lot easier when you win the first set. Because I feel a lot more confident going into the second and because you don't really have to claw and fight to get back into a third.
Q. Against a quality player like Martina, have you ever had an opening three games as strong as the three you had today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Quite a few times. I didn't always back it up but today I did. I guess I am a lot older and more wiser, but I have had some starts against maybe Martina like that before. Actually, the first time I played her at the Lipton in 1997, I had 3-Love and lost it, but --
Q. Did you just make up your mind. I am going to come out in this match, I am going for winners on every opportunity?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That is my game, to hit the ball. Any time that I try to play otherwise I become an average player because my game is to hit and any other thing I don't really know how to do because I don't practice that. So, it is important for me to go out and play my game and not be convinced that I have to play a different way because I am playing a certain player.
Q. Do you approach a match with Martina any differently than anyone else, Do you feel a different sense of rivalry with her, or is she basically another excellent player that you are playing against?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I approach every match differently depending on who I am playing. If I have never played the player before or if I am playing Martina, then maybe I will be a little bit more focused going into the match because she is a good competitor and really try not to give her too much room to get back into the match because she is very good at that.
Q. What are your thoughts of making another final and playing either Dementieva or--
VENUS WILLIAMS: I am really excited. If I could play every tournament like I do the Lipton, I would be undefeated-- I am sorry, the Ericsson. It is hard for me, guys. It is hard for everybody. But if I could just do this every time I'd be No. 1.
Q. Have you played either of them that much, I mean, Capriati?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Capriati only once back in 1997. Dementieva quite a few times. Well, three. And I think my odds are good against both of them and I think they are evenly matched going into tonight's match for them because I played Dementieva last week and I saw Capriati play yesterday, so I can't say who is going to win-- looks to me like they are hitting quite a few over the net but I would say Dementieva is a little more powerful.
Q. Did Martina seem more pre-occupied with the trial coming up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know-- I think she maybe had a slow start, but I had a fast start, that could be part of it. And it was windy, and it seemed to get more windy as we went on, so it was a little weird out there with the ball turning into you and on your serve. Also, we were serving in the sun for at least half of the match so there were a lot of outside factors today.
Q. Did she seem any different than any other time you have played her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. No. Not at all.
Q. When Martina was asked to explain her comments about racism on the Tour and then why African Americans had an advantage in her opinion, she said it was because people were afraid to say the wrong thing about African Americans and that the media took it easy on you and Serena.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't quite understand.
Q. Her comments-- this is Martina's comments. She said that people were afraid to say the wrong thing about African American players on the Tour. That was one. She also said that the media took it easy on you and on Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand, though, the question, why would she say that in conjunction with what question she asked.
Q. The other day she said in a press conference that there -- it was nonsense that there was racism on the Tour and that African Americans had an advantage being on the Tour. She was following up to those comments.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think anyone has an advantage on the Tour. I think as far as the WTA Tour and also the Grand Slam events, they are very fair. And if anything, I have been a marquis player all my life. I have had an extra advantage, I would believe, I haven't had to come from the bottom as an unknown scrub, so I couldn't tell you how that how that would be. But as far as outside of tennis. People are afraid to face the reality. No one wants to see bad things; no one wants to see the dark side. They want to be happy. And I don't blame that. But we have got to face our fears and go head on to any problem that we might have in America, that is how I believe.
Q. People have to look at their attitudes?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It is hard. It is hard to change. Especially if something you have been taught - your parents taught you mentality of a country is hard and it takes time. That is all I have to say.
Q. Venus does it give you a special satisfaction to defeat Martina Hingis and mainly in the way you did today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had quite a few unforced errors, so if I could just get myself somehow -- maybe I need to go an 11-step program for unforced errors.
Q. Can you talk about the two times that you faced problems today, 5-4 she was serving for the second set and also when she had a set point in the tiebreaker, what was going through your mind each time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, at 5-4 I don't know. She made a few errors, but I think I hit a few good deep shots and when I was down in the tiebreak I said Venus, this is your advantage, I was serving, so hit a nice first serve and took my time on my overhead and it was 6-All.
Q. Did you think about a third set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not during the second set because I was concentrating on the second and really doing my best to take that one.
Q. Two bandages on your knee that don't go all the way around, what are they designed to do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They are designed to keep me out of pain basically.
Q. I don't understand how.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, they are preventative measures so that way I can continue to play tournaments like the Ericsson.
Q. I don't know if you have heard yet, but a judge ruled today that you are not going to have to testify?
MODERATOR: Due to legal and security reasons they are not answering any questions on this matter. Next question, please.
Q. What about her own security concerns?
THE MODERATOR: Next question, please.
Q. Venus, I am wondering about Jennifer Capriati. You played her once. You were talking about the 1997 Lipton match. Do you have any memories at all from that match and how much has Capriati changed or progressed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She played great that night and I played pretty good too and I just remember at the end I was just very calm and pulled the match out.
Q. You said that you wanted to play the higher ranked player when they asked you --
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I like to play the higher ranked player. It is more to my advantage for my ranking purposes; that is how I feel.
Q. Dementieva, if you play her she is going up to No. 8 on Monday, I believe, how has her game progressed since you just played her a couple of weeks ago compared to when you first did?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she hits the ball a little bit harder. Maybe -- she's always been very consistent but it just seems like she has just taken her game up a step in her serve, return, groundstrokes - volleys she just doesn't come in that much. Seems like she has just taken her game to another level.
Q. Seems like you defeated her pretty easily at least by the score; that was your last match at Indian Wells. Was your knee hurting in that match pretty much?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I know the match before I played Rachel McQuillan, I was sore, moving pretty slow, and against Dementieva fortunately enough I didn't have to work that hard. But I was moving slow and moving faster this week.
Q. You said you didn't have to work that hard?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't have to work too hard.
Q. Why is that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She made a lot of errors. I think she didn't play her best that day.
Q. Venus hits a 68 mile an hour serve. Does she have to improve her second serve to play at your level, especially on big points?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think she has to improve her second serve because until someone really threatens her or everyone threatens her every time and says -- and makes a lot of winners, then she doesn't have to improve it. Occasionally she play someone like me or Serena or Lindsay or maybe Clijsters who is going to maybe take a chance, but most people are just happy to put the ball in play.
Q. You said that you were very focused throughout this entire week. Did you ever say to your dad, gee, just let my tennis do the talking; try not and say too much to the press?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never tell him what to do. I am not in that kind of position. I am just a kid.
Q. Did you ever wish you could tell him to do that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Venus, you were raised -- if you meet Jennifer in the final you sort of come at it from two different ways being tennis prodigies. You remember when you were wanted to play and your dad was holding you back, was she ever mentioned as don't burn out quickly, don't -- look what happened to Jennifer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think when Jennifer -- she's an isolated case as far as what may have happened to her. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she decided I am going to layoff and play tennis a little later in life. Maybe it is not for me. Maybe that is what happened to her. I don't think it was anything exactly so tragic. Maybe she needed time.
Q. You said that you felt you were a wiser player now than you were before. Can you tell us in what ways you think --
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just play a lot smarter. I don't always try to kill the ball. Give myself a chance. I still like to hit hard because that is my game and it keeps people on their toes and it keeps them pushed back, but I think in general I make a lot better decisions.
Q. Davenport said she believes your father likes to just say things to stir up the media and leave you and your sister to deal with the consequences. Do you and Serena feel that way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we don't.
Q. Did the leg hurt today? Is pain something you just -- you are just going have to deal with or did you feel -- (inaudible)
VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually I am happy that the final day is coming up for me because I have all of April off, so I can just kind of relax and just get off of my legs and my arms and everything. It has been a tough month for me actually since February. So it has been a tough two months.
Q. Is your knee hurting now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I am okay. If I was hurting too much then I wouldn't play. But I just really have to -- really start an hour earlier whereas in the past I would maybe take 15 minutes to warm up, now I take an hour so it is hard for me to be so disciplined.
Q. Do you think too much is being placed on Indian Wells and what your father says rather than on your tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I haven't placed too much on it. Really life is just about moving on and learning from everything that happens to you.
Q. Is it a possibility, you know, Serena was hurt, hurt her knee was hurt and there were, you know, can this be getting in a position where if even if she wanted to stop because she is hurts -- is there a danger of this whole injury thing whether it is you, Lindsay getting out of control, whereas if you are hurt you have got to stop as opposed to just playing through because of what people may say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand the question.
Q. The question is Serena was hurt and I am wondering if, you know, there could be a point where maybe you will want to stop because you are actually in pain but because of the Indian Wells thing or whatever you figure, well, let me play through this, where maybe you should stop, do you think there could be a danger of playing through pain when maybe you should stop and not play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think it is a danger because I think the person has to decide whether or not they can endure it or whether or not they can continue and if it is good for them or not so everyone has to make that decision for themselves. Only the athlete knows that for sure.
Q. This past week it seems that there has been this suggestion again that maybe your dad has a great influence on you and Serena greater perhaps than he should, can you address that issue?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He does have a great influence on me. He is my dad and I like when he is happy with me. And I do my best and he has given me everything that I have right now or else I would be somewhere struggling in college and I guess in California, I don't know where I would be. Who knows, maybe lots of bad things could have happened to me. Maybe because of tennis I have stayed so focused in my life. So I am really, really thankful and I have nothing to say badly against him because he loves me. He want the best for me, and he has done everything that he can and he'd really -- he'd give his right arm.
Q. Because of this perception do you feel that you and Serena that you have to declare your independence from him or not?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I do everything that I can to -- because I realize, especially now, I think about, you know, I am not always going to have my dad around, hopefully we will all keep living as long as possible, but, you know, I really try to start visiting my dad more too and my mom because I have to realize that they are not always going to be here, so I should make the best of it and like learn things that happened to them in the past and learn more about me too, so that is what I try to realize these days.
Q. How has your mother dealt with all of this last couple of weeks?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think we have anything to deal with. Because when you know the truth, the truth sets you free. So we have no issue at all.
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