September 5, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.
Q. Do you have any plans for Saturday night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm hoping to be in the final (smiling). 8:00 sharp at the dance, so... Yeah, I still have the semifinals first.
Q. How happy are you with today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My unforced errors count was just really high. I wasn't stringing together the points the way I'd like to exactly. I did a few good points, and then I missed a few easy shots, too. But, in general, a win is a win, and I'm happy to have won.
Q. I think Clijsters pushed Serena two years ago to three sets. You guys have never met before. Was it easier than you thought?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play quite a few times so I knew what to expect. You know, I was disappointed that I lost serve in one game, but I was able to hang on the rest of them. I think I only lost serve once. That was a nice stat for me.
Q. Is there something going on with the conditions that was affecting your serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a little bit windy with the toss. I feel that I'm accustomed to the wind at this point. Have to get my first serve percentage up. Really I'd like to have a few more aces. Some service winners would be nice too.
Q. You said your service game the other night was dismal. How would you describe today's?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was definitely much better. I think she was returning my serve well. You know, I hit a fast one, she would get it right back, so that was nice for her, I guess. For me, I would be a lot happier if it was a service winner. You know, I think I served better. I was in the 50s, so that's definitely bringing it up from the other day.
Q. Now that you played Clijsters yourself, what do you think about her game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's a very strong player. I could see exactly why she got to the French Open final. She's very fast. She has a lot of power. I guess she just has to use it to her advantage every time that she plays.
Q. But she was not strong enough to beat you today.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it wasn't today. Today wasn't her day. There will be other days, just like there were for me. Sometimes it wasn't my day. But there will be other opportunities.
Q. What does it say about your game where it was somewhat uneven, but you had a relatively easy straight-sets victory?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think it's experience. Really, I was just doing exactly what my dad told me to do, so that helped out a lot, when I was listening. When I wasn't, it was tougher.
Q. What did he tell you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll keep that for myself. But everything that he told me always works out.
Q. How much confidence does it give you having successfully defended Wimbledon, coming into the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't trying to defend Wimbledon; I was trying to win Wimbledon. For me, it's a totally different thing. I'm not trying to defend here; I'm trying to win. So it's a great big difference. I don't have any pressure to defend because I'm here to try to take the title home.
Q. Your sister said last night that you gave her some very good advice about champions not getting nervous in tough situations. How did you come up with that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't really remember what I said. I talk a lot sometimes. I guess I did tell her that champions will hit over the net and not into the net. If you hit in the net, there's just no chance at all. The opportunity is finished. If you get it over, it might drop in.
Q. Have you guys talked at all about possibly meeting in the first prime time final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I guess just one more match to go for each of us. But we're against some pretty good players, No. 1 and -- Capriati has to play yet. If I play Mauresmo, you know, she's not a joke either. I guess I have to wait and see who I play.
Q. What went through your mind when you got broken in the opening game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, she played very good. She was trying to force me, you know, to play. But I was pretty confident, especially in my return game. Really just haven't been broken before in an opening game. That's happened before. Wasn't anything for me to get nervous or shaky about.
Q. If it is Jennifer who you play in the next round, what's the key to the match-up when you face her? Obviously, this would be the only Grand Slam left that neither of you has won this year? She won the first two, you won the last one. What would be at stake against her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose getting to that prime time final. A lot of people have been vying to get there. It hasn't been an easy road. I guess whoever comes out and plays superior. I believe it will be a good match, a tough match.
Q. What would it mean to you in a couple weeks' time to be on the cover of Time Magazine and then be on prime time at night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess I have to win the next round first. But if I'm there, I'm going to take the full opportunity to try to make it happen, take another title home.
Q. Tactically, what are the keys against Jennifer for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's a very strong player. She does everything well. In my opinion, you just have to come out there and play good tennis, be ready to compete on that day.
Q. What about styles of play? How does she compare with yours, for example?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think she plays very well. She hits the ball quite hard. Nowadays, I don't really try to hit every ball hard anymore. When I have to, sure, I like to force it if I have the opportunity. I think maybe I don't have as much pace on every shot as she does.
Q. Did you feel it was confusing Kim today? She was expecting you to hit every ball hard. When they weren't, she was a little confused.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I believe I had a few free points on the serve because of that. Maybe she was expecting a hard one, and I would hit it just at a medium pace. She was thrown off. I threw up some high ones. But I feel I'm able to mix it up. Maybe that was to my advantage today.
Q. The governor was here today talking about the First Serve program. I was wondering if you ever had an occasion to see him play or hit any tennis balls with him?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Ever even met him?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Have they enlisted you with this First Serve program, to be a part of it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. But I get letters from him when I win sometimes.
Q. Do you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. What do they say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: "Congratulations." Things like that.
Q. Did you even know he was a tennis player in college?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't know that.
Q. You were saying you don't feel the pressure of defending. There's this beautiful ad of you with all this grace and serenity on television. You're on court, you look so graceful and serene now. Could you talk about your growth, this image that has come to develop around you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, when I first started, I was a beginner, everything was exciting. Things are still exciting - even more exciting now because I'm winning. But back then, I played a few good matches. Burn-out. Fall to the wayside. It was very exciting because I was doing things for the first time, stepping up to the occasion. But nowadays, I expect to do these things. I expect myself to hit those shots. If I don't, then that's a surprise. So maybe that's why I'm more calm now. If I win a big point, I've expected to do this. That's what I expect of myself. So that's the difference, I think.
Q. Some of that first-time stuff is gone. What makes it fun now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the first times I didn't win. But now what's fun is that I'm actually able to take titles home.
Q. Given the ebb and flow you were talking about of your career, is this surprising? This is your fifth Open and your fifth semifinal appearance here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It is?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, that's nice (smiling).
Q. It seems like in the last two, three years, more entertainers and athletes are coming to see you and Serena specifically, especially at the big events. Is that great to see? Does that give you a sense of pride? Do you think you and Serena are Tiger-izing the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess they come because they've heard a lot and they want to see what's going on. Thank you. You guys wrote it. You know, I think it's nice. I think it's very exciting that people are coming out from all walks of life to come see us. It's not only us, it's other players, too, in my opinion. I think it's especially exciting, especially here at The Open, the place to be during these two weeks.
Q. In a sense, you have movie stars and music stars, it seems like you're making tennis very cool.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought it was cool. That's why I kept playing. So, you know, I thought it was always nice.
Q. When you played Capriati in New Haven, it was really close. The crowd probably would have gotten behind whoever ended up losing. It was Jennifer that day. You said that they were probably sad to see her lose because they have come to really like her. Can you talk more about that, given the year that she's had?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I just think in general the fans have always loved her from the very beginning, you know, when she hit her first ball. I remember. I was like a baby, but I was following it, too when she hit her first ball. Everyone has been watching her and following her story. They feel like they watched her grow up. Maybe that's what it is. So she has a lot of fans and a strong fan base. They really come out and root for her and want her to win.
Q. Are you getting over your cold?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what's going on. Whoever said I had a cold?
Q. Sounds like you have one.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
Q. We have pretty good ears. Considering you haven't dropped a set yet in the tournament, is this the perfect way to go into a big match like you have coming up? Is this part of you that wishes you had a chance to be tested more?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I think I tested myself enough. Today I had quite a few unforced errors. So, I think that I'm ready to play, ready to compete. If I'm not, I've just wasted 12 years of my life practicing. Here's my chance.
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