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June 26, 2001

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Venus Williams.

Q. How did you like your game today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played okay, you know, for a first round match. Sometimes those always can be a little bit shaky. But I think I had the opportunity to hit a lot of balls, hit a few returns, so that's always good.

Q. Did you feel any pressure out there as the ladies' defender on centre court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at all. I don't really feel any pressure to. Having won last year was really a dream come true. Whether or not I win this year has nothing to do if I won last year, in my opinion, because I still want the title just as much. So I don't feel any pressure to defend. If anything, I would just like to win again.

Q. Serena said yesterday she found her mind wandering occasionally. Did you find it difficult to concentrate today? Looked as though maybe you did early on.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't have any difficulty concentrating. I think it's easy to lose focus, especially when you're winning easily. But I didn't have any issues with that at all.

Q. Did you lose focus early on, all those unforced errors?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I really just started going for too much. I wanted every shot to be great and perfect. Sometimes you have to play 50%, not 100. I was able to crawl out of it. But, you know, I did have some errors. All I can do is learn from it, just go back on the practise court.

Q. How did you find the weather today out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it was hot. But I had a little preparation, living in Florida. But it's quite hot.

Q. We saw you revealing your new dress today. I was just wondering, apparently we heard that you had a new lucky charm that you were going to be showing today.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It's just a rumor. I don't have any lucky charms.

Q. You don't have any superstitions?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do, but I don't have any lucky charms.

Q. What are your superstitions?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just like to wear the same style dress every time. If I kind of defer from that, then I start to believe that I'll be less successful. So I have to try a dress out in doubles before it can be ready for single's.

Q. Would it be fair to say that Bobby is your lucky charm?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, Bob has been having some discipline problems lately.

Q. Really?


Q. Is that why your game is fluctuating?

VENUS WILLIAMS: As a mom, you've got to worry. He's doing okay. I heard he escaped some disciplining. While the other dogs were being disciplined, he ran under the couch so nobody could reach him.

Q. If Bobby were here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If Bobby were here, he'd be a joy every day. He helps me warm up on the court. He's quite noisy. He just makes you feel good. He's a feel-good dog.

Q. Given the importance of this dog issue, what type of dog is Bobby?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Bobby is a Yorkshire terrier. I'll have to bring a picture next time. Serena has pictures in her purse. I do, too, but I didn't bring it.

Q. What is it like to walk on here and being the defending champion? How is it different than last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel really motivated. Anytime you come to Wimbledon, in my opinion, you just have to feel motivated, especially when you walk out on centre. There's really no better feeling. The court is so perfect, it's the best grass court I've ever played on in my life, including all the other courts at this facility. I love being there. 1:00 start on Tuesday, I came through.

Q. The thrill of winning last year, was it as great for you as you would have anticipated going in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was super. I think you have a lot more feeling when you lose because it's just so hard, especially when you lose a tough match, it's really tough to get going again. When you win, everything's perfect. But I think you have a lot more feelings when you lose a match. So I just want to keep winning.

Q. What about winning specifically here at Wimbledon?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was real nice. My first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. That's really a top pick, in my opinion. If I could choose one to win first, it would have to be this one. Really a dream come true.

Q. Your dad wondered whether the French would have been on your mind today at all. That is accurate?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely I was thinking about it. You know, I still haven't gotten over it. I feel really deprived not having been able to compete there. I really felt I had a good chance. I think the draw really opened up, too, all the players either withdrawing or falling out. Yeah, I don't think I'll ever get over it.

Q. How did you spend the time between the French and now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I got a just punishment. I went home, had to face all types of heat, and I got bit by a lot of bugs. I was punished. I was motivated enough to win my match so I could stay here at Wimbledon.

Q. Lack of match play has never really seemed to be a deterrent for you. Are you the kind of player that gets a lot out of your practise time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I try to get as much out of my practise times as possible. If I'm not practising effectively, I might as well not be practising. That's how I feel. Really, I try to do a lot of my work in my mind. I try to really be prepared before I come to the tournament so I don't have to work on anything at all, I have it all together when I get here. When I arrive at a tournament, all I have to do is just maintain my game. That's really what I focus on. I think you have to win the battle in your mind first before you go out there on the court. So I think that's one of the reasons why I don't have to compete as much as the next player.

Q. Are you trying to be any kind of a different player this year? Anything you're doing differently than last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I think everything I did last year was quite good. If I could just do what I did last year, I think that would be perfect. Move forward, just execute it. That's enough to win a Slam.

Q. Do you think finesse and touch still has a large role in the women's game or do you see it kind of going away from there, power and aggressiveness are pretty much the number one elements now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think if you have the opportunity to bully your opponent, then you have to take that chance. Also I think that finesse and touch is also something that if you can kind of move your opponent around, being tricky, kind of having them off balance, that's perfect also. But sometimes if you have the power, it's perfect to use it. So I think it's a happy medium between both. Learning to use both is good.

Q. When do you go to touch and finesse? Normally when you're not playing as well? Do you start out saying, "If I can overpower my opponent, that's what I'm going to do. If I can't, I'm going to have to go to Plan B or C"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Normally I use less power if I'm winning easily. I take a lot off the ball, start to really enjoy myself. But if I'm not winning easily, it's a lot harder for an opponent, always having to feel that I'm pushing them back or they have to keep returning my deep balls and my hard balls, whereas if I was just hitting them softer, they feel less pressure that I'm even going to hit a winner. In my opinion, I have -- God gave me the gift of being strong, I'm going to use it.

Q. Jennifer is having such a great run. Do you feel like she's the player to beat in this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point I don't even think she's on my side of the draw, so I haven't really thought very much about it.

Q. Is it fair to say that she's the best player in women's tennis at this point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, at this point she has the best results, so you'd have to say that she's doing the best, whereas the rest of us have been trying, but it hasn't exactly happened.

Q. The Lawn Tennis Association says that you and your sister asked for 100,000 pounds each to help promote tennis in this country. What was your take on that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you think about it?

Q. Pardon me?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you think about that?

Q. I'm just reporting what the Lawn Tennis Association says. What do you reply to that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know because I haven't read anything about it, so I wouldn't be able to make an educated opinion.

Q. Would you like to help promote tennis in this country? If the opportunity arose, is that something that appeals to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think, you know, you've got to start pressuring, because in time it will come. I don't think I'd be as helpful as someone who lives in England, and someone who understands how to work with players. And also if you don't know the answer, how could I? I just finished being a kid myself, so I'm just trying to grow up.

Q. Are you a little surprised that you're essentially in the same position this year that you were last year where you came in here not playing your best tennis, you'd been injured, taking a lot of time off, and now you're in a position where you have to kind of step up, win Wimbledon, go through the summer, have a big run?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What was the question?

Q. The question is, are you a little surprised that you're in the same position this year that you were last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think I worked hard enough. I deserve to be in this position. It's okay. I'm not doing that bad.

Q. Apart from all the hours and hours of preparation all the players put in, back to this superstition point. Is it fair to say that most of the players are a superstitious bunch?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think most of the players probably do have their pet peeves. It's hard to get rid of them once you have them.

Q. Does Serena have some?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.

Q. Serena has a little dog?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. She has two now.

End of FastScripts....

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