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September 3, 2001

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. You're down 2-4 a break in the first set. Don't lose another game the rest of the match against a good player.

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I played her last week at the Pilot Pen - a couple weeks ago - and actually I was in the same situation except I got down 5-3 and won that set in the tiebreak. And, you know, I had some opportunities in the second game to convert to 2-love, but I hadn't been doing that well this tournament. So basically I'm looking forward to tightening up in the quarterfinals.

Q. Doesn't sound like your cold has improved much. What symptoms are bothering you most on the court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Whoever said I had a cold?

Q. Sounds that way.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, really? I'm doing all right (smiling).

Q. Do you have a cold?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so.

Q. You haven't dropped a set so far in this tournament. I was just wondering if you could talk about that. How surprising is that to you and what do you think that says about your game, where it's at?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, especially if I'm feeling good, especially mentally, I have a clear vision of how I want the game to go and how I want the ball to be. So when I feel like this, I don't have to work very hard. And I think that's what it has been in this past week. That's how it's been, basically. So whenever I get down a break or if things feel a little tight, I feel as if I can get out of there.

Q. There's six of the top eight that are left in this tournament that are considered power players. Among all of you, I mean you can't beat each other to death from the baseline, what do you think is going to be the next evolution in the women's game that will separate the ones who win the big tournaments and the ones who don't?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point, I think it's possibly conditioning, you know, because we're -- and consistency, because out there, sure, it's okay to hit with power but you do have to get it in also. Being consistent, if you're able to get that extra ball back by having the conditioning, then that might be the next thing. I'm not envisioning, especially -- Serena and I are a little bit younger at 20 and 21, but Lindsay and Jennifer, they're a little older so they might not be as ready to change their game and go to be a serve and volleyer. I don't think that's going to happen, especially they're having so much success at this point.

Q. You mentioned earlier in the week you're starting to mix up your serves a little more. Are you thinking those are the things you're adding that is taking you to the next level then?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. I don't really hit the ball as hard as I can every shot anymore - just when I have to. If I'm playing a more important match, I try to use my power to bully my opponent. Why not? But nowadays, I'm just coasting.

Q. Quarterfinals will be against Kim Clijsters. What do you know about her game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play Serena about three times. So hopefully I've paid attention. But, you know, I'm ready. If I'm not ready by now, it's gonna be too late.

Q. What did you see when she played Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's always played a good game. She had not her best match at the Ericsson. I think Serena just played very well. She's strong, she runs well and she's a great competitor. As long as you're here to compete, then it's gonna be a tough match.

Q. Can you win the tournament with the percentage of first serves you had today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was dismal. At least these days I'm serving at least 55 percent. On a good day it's like 65. So if I served like 70, it would be a nightmare for my opponent (smiling). But it hasn't happened yet.

Q. How does your approach and/or your game change the first week of a Grand Slam versus the second week?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, in the first week I really look to -- I do a lot more of my harder practices, but I try to pace myself because I'm playing a Grand Slam. Especially since I played last week too, the week before, your body just starts to break down because of the intensity. You start straining muscles easily, especially towards the end. So I'm just trying to stay in shape.

Q. Some players will say, "I'm playing every match like it's the finals. Go, go, go." You're more of one to pace yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just, you know, am playing. And like I just seem to play better as the tournament goes on. Like at Wimbledon, I was playing quite bad in the beginning rounds. But as soon as I got to the semifinals, I was able to play a lot better. I'm hoping this will be the same thing.

Q. You obviously have to spend a great deal of your time focusing on tennis, but you also are one of the leading young African Americans in our country. I know you've been asked this many times, but could you take a moment and just share with us your thoughts on being a representative for African Americans and your role in terms of speaking on different issues.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think that each -- every one of us in this country, we have to be a representative of ourselves and of our family and most of all of being an American. So wherever I go, you know, I carry the flag.

Q. You're one week into this tournament, so is Serena. You're both still in it. Do you allow that to enter your stream of consciousness at all at a tournament where you're on course to meet each other in the final possibly?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think that's what we're thinking about at this point. Sure, we'd love for both of us to be in the final, but that's only happened once so far -- twice, we played the mixed doubles final at the French Open. But we still have a tough way to go. Possibly I'll play Jennifer in the semifinals and Serena has Davenport. We know she's a great competitor. So at this point, it's like one point at a time.

Q. Great new hairdo. New to my eyes. Very stylish. Could you comment on that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You mean the color? (Smiling) It offsets my eyes. No, I just -- my mom bought me a new hair clip so I'm using it.

Q. The other day Andre said he couldn't believe he went through all the aggravation of having long hair when he was younger. Do you ever think about the days with the beads and how you did it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, that was last millennium. Yeah, "Update. Don't be late." That's what I've done. I had to. I've had no other choice, or else I would have been a fashion misfit.

Q. You said before you were kind of coasting. What do you mean by that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just mean that I haven't -- more than anything, I haven't had to run very much. So I don't run as much as I used to back when I was younger. I would, like, lose a first set or win the first set, struggle in the second, come back in the third, do all kinds of running, hitting lots of short balls, opponent run me around. I'm a lot smarter now. I don't have to do all the running I used to.

Q. When you were talking about how you can kind of see things, where the ball should be going, does that mean you know physically you're going to respond once you can see the right strategy from the match, your strokes are going to come together and all that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's like I can see what I'm going to do before I do it and that's when I know I'm playing good tennis. If I don't see it, then I have a tougher day.

Q. Is it you can see what you can do, or is it also you can kind of anticipate what the opponent is going to do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's just really about me. Surely I like to know what my opponent is doing, especially if they have a certain weakness. If I'm playing bad, I'd love to capitalize on it. But mostly it's about me when I go out on the court.

Q. It seems a few strokes really let you down. Your forehand, I guess there was some commenting on TV about it, seems to have let you down some. I see that your stroke has actually changed a little bit, the forehand, the way you take the racquet back versus a long, smooth stroke. Have you gone through some changes on your forehand?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't see where my forehand has let me down.

Q. Looks like you're turning a lot faster. The racquet is really snapping back versus the long strokes you used to take.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Quick preparation is great because the ball comes fast and you have to be ready. But, you know, I don't see where my forehand's let me down. If anything, it's helped me out. I get more pace off of that side. But I don't know. Someone hits to my forehand, I'll be ready.

Q. I think it was two matches ago I asked you about your record at the other two Grand Slams you haven't won. Would part of the reason for not having won the Australian Open, for instance, be that your father or Serena hasn't been with you? And perhaps will he go this year coming up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I used to think that a little bit this year until like this Wimbledon. Whereas this year at Wimbledon, I was just -- I just wanted no one to tell me anything because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. At that point, I knew I could win on my own. Well, sure, I have to win on my own because out on the court I'm alone. But, you know, I wanted my dad to be at every tournament, and that wasn't always the case. After that Grand Slam, I did know that I'm okay on my own. But, you know, the reason I didn't win there was because I wasn't ready. So I just shouldn't have made the trip.

Q. At Wimbledon some of us were surprised when you spoke on how you were being quiet during the Championships, more or less by yourself. Is that happening again here at the Open? Do you like that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, after that doubles loss yesterday, I was really upset. You know, because I love doubles and I love winning doubles with Serena. And I've really changed. I was pretty friendly before that, but now I don't really talk to anyone. You know, I talk to you guys, but I have to or else I'll be fined (laughing).

Q. Would you talk to us anyway?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I just -- maybe it was a wake-up call. Wasn't playing very well, and now I'm just pretty serious. I don't have too much small-talk anymore.

Q. Did you and Serena talk to each other after the loss?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The team we played, they just played incredible. I mean, I would hit an overhead at the girl and you know I have a big overhead, she'd get it back for a winner. And if they're gonna play like that, I hope they win the tournament.

Q. Which girl are you talking about, Chanda or Callens?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Chanda. And Callens, I've never seen her play before like that in my life either. So congratulations.

End of FastScripts….

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