August 28, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.
Q. How did it feel to get back out there on the court today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Felt good. It was a little windy. I had more unforced errors than I would have liked to have had. But I'm in the second round now. It's where I wanted to be.
Q. Would you say this is probably the best way you can possibly start this tournament off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. I don't really want any hard matches, especially since my week last week. That was a tough week for me. I'd like to start off a little bit slower this week. Here I am.
Q. Are you pleased with the expanded seedings, 32 seeds instead of 16, the way it sets up for the top players?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I suppose that makes it a little bit easier for the people who are not in the top 16 because they've worked hard to be in the position that they are with their ranking. It does help them to be rewarded for their hard work. It helps the top players to get an easier round in the beginning. So I think it works out well for everyone.
Q. A couple of kids from Compton on the cover of Time Magazine this week. How cool is it to be on the cover?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm going to have to put it in my scrapbook when I get a copy. I might not ever get this opportunity again. So it's pretty nice.
Q. Felt pretty good to see yourself on the cover?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I just saw it recently. I guess it just came out. It's only a week. It's pretty fleeting.
Q. Can you pronounce your opponent's name?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I can't.
Q. Obviously, you've never seen her before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hadn't seen her. She's a good player, though, very good player. She tried hard even when she was down 5-2. It probably wasn't easy for her playing the US Open wind. I'm quite used to it. I've been playing this wind since '98. Seems like I always have a match in the wind. That might have been tough for her.
Q. Would you describe the way you attack in general?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Normally I look for a short ball. I attack with my serve. A lot of times I'm attack my opponent's serve. I use a lot of power, try to keep my opponent on their guard, on their toes.
Q. And with your big serve, do you think about you can do that more a little bit?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes I serve a big one, sometimes a serve a kicker, in the body. Depends on what the score is, what the situation is, how much I want to risk.
Q. Did you notice that most of the time women attack less than men on court? Do you think it's lack of physical ability or lack of confidence?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the ladies attack as much as the guys. I think it depends on the style. Most peoples these days that are baseliners on the women and men's tour are comfortable at the baseline. No one really wants to come in. I think it depends on the style of the player, men or women.
Q. Pete has always been one of your favorites. He was in here before saying people have started worrying about him now. I was wondering about how you're feeling about him?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He was worried?
Q. Everybody is sort of asking about him, he hasn't won a tournament in 17 tries, the sympathy thing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think he's in a position in life that he wants to be in. He's been a champion all his life. Things seem to be going well for him. You don't always win. I think he's done well for himself.
Q. As you know, Zina struggled for a long time to get any kind of contract. Ironically when she reached the final, she got sort of an instant small contract. You've gotten a contract worth more than $40 million. How do you think times have changed? Do you think it's true, Martina Hingis' comment that blacks have an advantage in terms of getting sponsorship?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know much about what happened in the past. I think your best bet would be to ask Zina. Back in the '80s, even before that, I wasn't around. The '80s, I was like watching cartoons, stuff like that. I have no idea.
Q. But you're a student of the game. She couldn't get a contract for years.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
Q. Even though she was a Top 10 player.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe I should ask her about it.
Q. Have you seen much of this Ashley Harkleroad, making a lot of a splash, trying to be the next Anna Kournikova? Have you seen a lot of her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I guess you're telling me now. This is the first I've heard.
Q. You haven't seen her play at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. You're playing the woman that just beat her next. She was a former junior champion here. You never came up through the junior ranks. Can you sympathize with the pressure that these kids are under?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think pressure is really how you process it. It's not easy a lot of times, especially when you're coming through the ranks, especially if you're getting a lot of press, to deal with it. You just have to challenge yourself to step up and move forward, to compete. Once you can break it down in your mind, make it that simple, it is quite easy. But everyone's different. People deal with pressures in life differently. Take it one step at a time.
Q. You said pressure is how you process it. What's the biggest pressure you think you've faced in your tennis career and how have you handled it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess when I first came around, I was young. I didn't quite understand how to win just yet. I had a few tough matches. It was only about three, though, where I lost in the first round. After that, my last first round loss, I think it was '96 in Oakland. I didn't play again until March the next year. I was really eager to play. I was very excited to play. I didn't have any problems after that. That was my biggest challenge, I suppose.
Q. Do you plan to play in more tournaments next year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think to this part I've lived up to my commitment. I believe I only played one tournament that -- I didn't play one tournament, Rome, where I was supposed to appear. But I'm doing what's good for me. Maybe I'll play more next year. I don't know.
Q. Who did you lose to in March '96?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In Oakland in '96, I lost to Brenda Schulzt. That was the beginning.
Q. That was not your first year.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. But I played not many matches. That was about my fifth tournament, I think. By that point I think I was more ready to play, ready to get out there.
Q. Last night Serena sprayed like 23 errors in her first set alone. I was wondering if you were conscious of the fact that you wanted to come out there and not be as jittery as she appeared to be, keep your errors down, not overhit? Did you talk about her game last night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't see her last night because I went to bed. She just said she couldn't stop making errors to save her life. Sometimes you have those days. But I think the difference was that I did play last week. I played a lot of matches last week, a lot of points. I was pretty clear on how I wanted to perform, where I wanted the ball to go. I think that was the difference.
Q. How different is it, if it is, to come into a tournament like this as a defending champion? Does it put more pressure on you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm definitely able to move on from the last year. I had a great time winning last year. Those are my memories. Can't take it away. I'd like to be equally as successful this year. In order to do that, I have to leave last year behind. Mainly I'm just competing for the title.
Q. I remember a few years ago in Key Biscayne you told me you knew two or three Italian words, giardino (garden), cane (dog), some others. Have you learned something more in this past summer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm sorry. You know, my dream is to learn French, so that way I can say my title speech at the French Open.
Q. You should get a French boyfriend.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You might be right.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.