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July 5, 2001

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Venus Williams. Who would like to start?

Q. Turned into a much tougher match than it started out for you. What happened?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, I just think she started to play a lot better. She started to hit a lot of penetrating balls. I felt really like I was on my back foot. Then I made a few loose shots, too. But I think really it was her.

Q. How did you turn it around in the third set after that breaker?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I really just didn't feel like I was going to go home without the win. I just think it was how I was feeling. So I really think it was just that. And basically she had played well. I had missed a few shots. I think the third set I had about one unforced error. So I think that helped a lot.

Q. You talked a lot the other day about really wanting this title last year. Can you talk about how much you really want it this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm just playing well, maybe even better at this point in this semifinal than what I did last year in the semifinals. So for me that's really exciting.

Q. What about your desire? Is it still pretty strong?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, for sure. I don't like to go home without carrying a plate or a trophy or a title or something. So I think that's motivation enough for me. I love winning here. Once you win here, it's pretty addictive.

Q. What about you personally, do you really get a rush from winning?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, I love to win. But I don't think I get a rush.

Q. Could you talk a little about facing Justine in the finals. Were you expecting Jennifer?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, I thought the match could go either way. Justine's a very good player. Everyone wants to get to the finals these days. Everyone wants to win. So really you have to watch out for every player. For me, it wasn't very surprising.

Q. She's beaten you in your only meeting. What is it going to take to reverse that result?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, the last time we played, I was just really moving kind of slow. I don't think I was playing as well as maybe I could have, really as well as I did today. And, you know, I feel comfortable going into the final. I've been there once or twice before - in a big final. So I think that my chances are good.

Q. Lindsay was saying that your serve was particularly effective today. Have you served better than that? Is there any reason why it's so on lately?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it just seems that when it comes time, to the larger matches, I'm just able to raise the level of my game to really a high degree, which makes me think, "Why didn't I play so well in the first rounds?" But maybe I didn't have to play that well. In the beginning of the tournament, I really struggled a lot with unforced errors. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop making them. Really, I started cutting them out, finally. And today I knew I'd have to serve well. Really, any match, when I serve well, it's just so much easier for me. And I think it makes my opponent think a lot about having to break me. So if I can serve well, then it's really important in the match.

Q. Do you think you have to play against a big player to show your true form?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I just think I have to play a big match. But it's nice playing someone like Lindsay, especially in a big match like this, because it really proves to yourself what level you're on, where you need to improve. For me, I think I've done my homework.

Q. You're one win away from back-to-back Wimbledon titles, which hasn't been done since Steffi Graf. What would it mean to you to be in that same breath with a champion like her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just doing my best. I'll just have to do whatever it takes. For now, I'm just, you know, putting everything behind me because, now that I've been able to be victorious today, I have to look forward to the next day. I did play well today. I'm just trying to move on. And really for me it's not about making history; it's just about trying to win Wimbledon 2001.

Q. I think Jennifer suggested she perhaps underestimated Justine a bit. Any danger that you might do that? If so, how do you avoid that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so. My mom told me never to underestimate anyone. So I take that good advice. You have to be playing pretty good tennis to get to the finals of a Wimbledon. That says a lot. So I'm going to be out there hopefully rowing like I did today.

Q. Do you plan to come back for many years? There was some talk earlier in the week about thinking very early - you're very young -about early retirement. Is that something that ever really crosses your mind?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at this point. I'm too young to be thinking about retiring.

Q. You said last year when Martina was up, everyone was talking about her coming back here at 43; you didn't ever see yourself coming back here at 43. When do you see tennis ending for you and what would you do later in life? Do you ever think about those things?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's too early to be talking about the end. I'm not there yet. As far as what I'd do at the end of my career, I want to do something that I enjoy, but I don't want to do too much. I don't want to work too hard, so... Maybe I'll be a couch potato (laughter).

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard have your first six matches been?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes they've been very difficult because, not only was I playing against my opponent, I was also playing against myself. And really it was all I could do sometimes just to keep the ball in play. You know, as the tournament went on, kind of -- I naturally raised the level of my game. For me it's nice to have that kind of built-in ability. But my last three matches have been a lot more easier for me. Even though I played better opponents, they've really just been a lot easier because I've been executing a lot better on my shots.

Q. Is it hard for you to go out and practice, do all the things that it takes for you to keep this high level?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think that if I practice more, then maybe I would have had a better part of this year. But that's okay. I had a good time whatever I was doing. I guess it was worthwhile. Sometimes it is hard to practice because I get a little bored with practicing. It's not always fun. I think, you know, some of the champions like Steffi Graf or Ivan Lendl, that's where they really excelled, because they excelled in practice, and they were able to do well in their matches because of that. Maybe I have to get the same attitude.

Q. Last year at this same stage obviously you were thinking about the final. How do you prepare for the final? Do you repeat the same preparations this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember at all. But it's like I knew I was going to win last year - after the semifinal, I just knew it. I don't know, I just felt that way. Hopefully I'll have that same feeling this year.

Q. Are you going to practice? Are you going to drive around London? I heard you've been trying to work out the roads in London, roundabouts.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I do drive, but only if I have to get somewhere. I don't drive leisurely, and I don't go to London. I hit the grocery store, drop a few people off. I'm a designated driver now.

Q. Is it strange not having Serena here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it is. I was sad because on my day off the other day, I woke up early, went for a walk. Normally I have my dog with me when I was doing that, or Serena. You know, I was sad that we couldn't do our little shopping together. You know, I've got to do it for her now. But, you know, she called me, and she said, "Bring the title home." She was very serious about it. So I feel pressured now to bring it home.

Q. Was that after your match with Lindsay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I really don't talk too much with my phone, I've tried to cut it down.

Q. What was that last phone bill?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't look at it anymore. I've now put it on my credit card so that way I can still get points, so I don't really have to look at it.

Q. You said you hoped to have that same feeling that you were going to win, but you don't yet?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's so close after the match now. But last year, I was kind of going home in the car, I just felt like I was going to win. This year's totally different. New year; new opponent; new game. So, really, I just think I have to just play well, serve well.

Q. Does it surprise you to see someone her size generate that much power off both sides, but especially the backhand?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's good for her. You know, when you have power, I think that helps you out a lot, especially in tough situations. You don't have to hope that the next person miss. Maybe you can make something happen. So that's good for her.

Q. If you play 100%, would that be enough against Justine Henin? Will you decide the final?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope so. If I play a hundred percent, I can't do more. So if that's not enough, then too bad for me.

End of FastScripts….

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