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June 28, 2001

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. That was a very hard game for you today.

VENUS WILLIAMS: In the first set, I had a lot of opportunities, but I wasn't capitalizing. I was just kind of rushing. After that rain delay I said, "If I don't hit the ball over the net, then she can't hit the ball over the net. I have to hit it back so she can hit it back." That kind of slowed things down in my mind.

Q. How far away are you from reaching your best form, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I'm not that far away at all. I just think at times -- I think I'm setting up well, moving my feet well, I think I'm serving quite well also. I think sometimes I'm just a little bit off with my shots, the contact point. Really, it's not about who's playing the best, it's about who's making the decisions at the right times, who's playing the right points well.

Q. Is it like you sort of want to progress as the tournament goes on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, definitely.

Q. I just wondered, how impressed were you with her? She's only 18. She's a big, tall kid. What would you say are some of her strengths and weaknesses?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really see any weaknesses at all, except for she hasn't played as much as maybe the next person has. That would have been me today (smiling). Some things are even predictable if you have a little bit of experience. All she has to do is just keep working hard, believing in herself. Basically that's all you have to do - for anyone.

Q. Do you think she has the raw talent for the Top 20 sort of thing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely think so.

Q. It was recently written that you and Serena wielded an authority like no one else in the game; if you were male, that you would be applauded for your intensity and your competitive streak; because you're women, black women, you're seen to be caddy; and to quote McEnroe, that you lack humility. Do you think there is a kind of double standard toward you and Serena? Could you comment on his observation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's so tough these days. I don't read anything. I'm not interested in watching the match. If I do, I put it on mute. To me, what's important in the end is how I view myself. When I'm injured or I'm retired, I'm still going to have to live with me. For me, that's all that matters. What the next person thinks is not so interesting for me.

Q. Do you feel that you and Serena do wield or do have a kind of authority on court? Is that part of your presence out there, a part of your game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that when people come out to play us, I think they hope that we have a bad day because if we don't, it's pretty rough - especially in doubles (laughter). If one of us is having a bad day, the other one isn't going to. The other one is going to hold the team up with all the force. Really, if we don't have a bad day, then we're pretty merciless. Even if we do, it's a rough game. We just have to play more consistently.

Q. Talk about Serena a little bit, how you think she's grown up and matured in the last couple years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as her tennis?

Q. Tennis and dealing with tennis. Lindsay was in here talking about growing up on tour earlier. She really went from 18 to 20, you've seen her the most, how do you think of how she's done?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's doing well. I'm proud of her, everything she does. You know, I'm proud of her off the court, too. She works hard. Most of all, she makes good decisions with her life. That's the most important thing. As far as growing up, I think Serena has a lot more to do still. Maybe because she's the youngest, she doesn't get her way, she might abuse me, yell at me (laughter). I back down. Maybe I have to stop doing that.

Q. How do you view what Jennifer Capriati has done to turn around her life and career? Do you and other players find yourselves rooting for her to a degree?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was really happy for her in her Australian Open victory. Most of all, I was happy for her parents, too, because they've worked so hard. You can see the work they put in. As far as the French Open, I was so focusing on myself. I didn't even know the result till quite a few days later. Up until now, she's had great results. At this point she's actually one of the best players in the world. You can only applaud her.

Q. What do you think of her story, what she's done?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think it's tough because everyone has put so much emphasis on the past, and right now is the future. I think we should just be happy for her and let her move on.

Q. Do you consider her right now at the level where you and Serena and the best players in the world are on a consistent basis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I haven't played her recently. But she's playing well, more than anything else. I haven't played her in a while. One day I will. It will be a good match.

Q. Has what happened to Jennifer demonstrated you can't have other influences in your life - even though you would want to have friends, boyfriends - you cannot have that if you want to be successful at tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's hard to find that happy medium. For everyone, it's different. I don't know. I think for everyone, it's different.

Q. The image of you leaping in joy at the end of Wimbledon last year after match point was one of the great images in tennis in recent years. Can you remember anything that was going through your mind then or in the moments after that? Was that the happiest moment in your tennis career?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Well, you know, I don't know what I was thinking. I was just pretty intense by then because it was a tiebreaker, and I was just determined to run every ball down. I was determined to play well. I just wanted one more point, one more point every time. Take one more point until all the points were for me. It was a nice time. That's my title - no one else's. For me, it's more about this year now.

Q. Was that your happiest moment thus far?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I can't say it was. I've had so many happy moments. That surely was a happy moment. It's kind of like I've been planning all my life for these moments. I've worked hard. More than anything, I believed I'd be there. For me, it wasn't a surprise that I did because I had a plan.

Q. Do you feel like one of the older players? Hard to say that at your age. You've been around four or five years now.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've been in and out, you know (smiling). I guess I'm getting there. I'm 21 now. Can rent a car maybe, so...

Q. Do you know if you and Serena plan to play for the US in Fed Cup in Spain in October or November?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's in Spain?

Q. I think it is.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never been to Spain. I want to. If I go to school, it makes it tough. I can only have three weeks where I can either play or have time for myself. All the other weeks, I have to be at school or else I'll be removed. They don't make any exceptions.

Q. What time period is that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: From October to December. It just depends what I decide.

Q. Someone once wrote that you felt there was nothing cooler than being smart. Is that something that you would agree with?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, being smart's one thing, and having common sense is another. There's a lot of things that goes into the combination. But it is sweet when you can think your way through situations. Just depends. I like having smarts.

Q. In Britain at the moment, there's a big drive to get kids from cities involved in tennis. What was it like for you growing up in Los Angeles? Can you describe the area you grew up in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I lived in Compton, right on the border of Lynnwood. First I lived in Lynnwood, they changed the border, then I was in Compton. You know, went to playing tennis. Spent my allowance on the ice cream truck, doughnut truck, the candy store behind. There was another store that sold Icees, spent my money there sometimes, too. I really had a great time. I didn't have any bad times.

Q. Tennis is available, easily to everyone?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. There's quite a few public courts in Compton or in the Los Angeles area. From what I saw, there were a lot of older people playing, like 35. They did have kids. They had the opportunity to start the kids. But it is accessible. You know, everything that's involved, I don't know. Mom and dad made it happen for me.

Q. If it hadn't been for your mom and dad, would you have found it easy to work your way up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If it hadn't had been for them, I wouldn't be here talking to you.

End of FastScripts….

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