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September 6, 2002

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question for Venus, please.

Q. Love-40 in the last game, you load up a 116, a 114, 122 or something like that. Are you just challenged there at that point? Did you feel the need to respond?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just -- I suppose I just didn't want to let the game go. Things hadn't gone as well as I thought they would go the whole match, and I surely didn't want to have to get to 5-All. So it was nice to have a good service game when I was on the brink of losing it.

Q. The other day you said after the match with Chanda, "It was kind of nice to know you could get through with a win and not have your A game." Do you feel that way about the match today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I just... I just wasn't able to do everything I wanted to. I think also she played very well. She was trying to retrieve balls and really take the game to me. So I definitely played a really good opponent today.

Q. Did you feel good about your game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always feel good about my game. I have to. I have to be positive at all times because I'm my best cheerleader.

Q. Would you call that "just another routine Venus finish"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea.

Q. Were you shooting for the ace?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah (smiling).

Q. At Love-40, what's going through your mind? Are you trying to relax, stay calm?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At that point I was really relaxed. I was never really nervous throughout the whole match, I just wasn't able to keep my errors down. I wasn't able to do everything I wanted to do in the court. I don't think I had the best practice going out to play the match, so I was a little distracted by that also.

Q. Do you have a blister on your hand?


Q. Did that occur during the match or was it something you had going in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think I noticed it before the match. But I guess it kind of reared its head during, so... Just another challenge.

Q. How much of an impediment was it for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, once I was able to get it wrapped, it was a lot better. After a while I started realizing that it was holding me back. I've never had , like, to have my hand wrapped or a blister on my hand before, ever. So it helped a lot.

Q. Does it affect your grip when you have tape on your hand?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I felt a lot better because it was protected and it wasn't -- the grip wasn't directly on the skin.

Q. When did it give you the most problem, with your forehand and your serve?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember anymore. Probably.

Q. How is it for tomorrow?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think okay. I suppose -- I hope I wouldn't let a blister hold me back from playing my best tennis. But sometimes the little things are the worst.

Q. When you look across the net tomorrow, whether it's Serena or Lindsay, will you see an opponent or will you see something different depending on who it is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: All in all, I'm really just here to try and take the title. After that, I can go home.

Q. At Love-40, is your method , "I'm just going to blast my way out of this"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, just...

Q. Three really good serves.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a great game. I think four great first serves from me to get to matchpoint. Finally a second. I think she just went for broke and didn't come up with it the last point.

Q. Is that an ability? I mean, Pete is known to be able to raise his serve at crunch time in an incredible way. Do you talk to yourself? Is that something you can practice in any way? Is it adrenaline? Can we learn it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea. I just -- I was just very relaxed. They kept going in. I definitely felt that I was gonna go for it.

Q. When you're up in the first, you took the first set, now you break her and are up 3-2 in the second set, do you start to think about the finals at that point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I lost my serve and I hit two double-faults. That was a point where I think I should have gotten my hand wrapped, but I kept going a few more games. But...

Q. You had played her four times before. Was this the best you played against her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Was this the best she played against me?

Q. Yes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably not. Probably not. I think it was tough to be in the semifinals and always play your best tennis, especially -- she's done it twice this year, which is a great result. But I feel like I'm a little more experienced and probably able to stay a lot more calmer in these situations, so that was probably tough for her.

Q. If you have to play your sister tomorrow, if you do, are you at the point now where you can put aside the sister stuff and get out there and play her like an opponent? I know it was hard earlier on. You seem to be working toward that point where you just battle.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Where's the problem? There's no problem.

Q. Before it was almost like it was too much love between you guys.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Too much love (laughter)?

Q. You said that you're just here to win the title. Does that mean you wouldn't mind facing Lindsay tomorrow?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'd rather face Serena.

Q. Because...?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I want her to do her personal best.

Q. You talked about feeling calm. I was wondering, what do you think -- why do you think you're able to be calm and really come through with every big -- on every big point you need, you seem to come through with an answer. What do you think it is about you that enables you to do that when other people can't?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, there was a time when I wasn't able to do that, when I was younger. And after a while, I was able to start getting those big points. You know, the last few years, it's all kind of going my way most of the time. So maybe it's something that I expect it to go my way, but it doesn't always. Sometimes you have to work a little bit harder. Hopefully, there's a little extra in there in the tank.

Q. You were talking earlier about being nervous. Are you always nervous during matches?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Was I nervous? I said I was nervous during the match?

Q. You're never nervous?


Q. Was there ever a time when you were nervous during a match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: During, yeah, sure, sometimes. It's normal. But I try not to let it hold me back, try to still perform.

Q. If, in fact, two people from the same family reach a Grand Slam for the third straight time, the indications are that would be the case, what kind of commentary do you think it is on that family?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well... They were very good athletes, that family (laughing). I suppose pretty good competitors. Which family is this (laughter)?

Q. Do you know them?


Q. Do you feel the level of play has been high when you play Serena in the finals of these majors?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It depends on what you consider "high." Lots of people would love to play at the level we play at.

Q. To your standards.

VENUS WILLIAMS: To my standards, every time I've gone out there and done my best. Whether it was my best day, I can't say in every match. But I do go out there and perform to the best of my ability.

Q. After Wimbledon you were talking about how you wanted to firm up some areas of your game throughout the summer. Now you're going into the final. What's the state of your game? Are you pretty pleased with it.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've been doing okay. It's just been a long season. I'm just holding on, more tournaments in the fall.

Q. Do you feel like you go into the final tomorrow night and the level that you want can come out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's really just all in the mind. It's just all in the mind for me. It's not really about anything physical anymore. Mentally, I just have to be there.

Q. Did you have a specific game plan today, how to play Amelie? Was it unfolding? What was happening?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, really I just wanted to play aggressive, to play my normal game. I don't think I was really always able to do that.

Q. You and Serena have any plans tonight? What are you going to do? Go to dinner in the city?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I haven't even been to dinner these whole two weeks.

Q. Why is that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just never felt like it.

Q. Room service kid, are you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I order, take-out.

Q. How is she playing, do you think? Have you watched her closely?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena, I think she's playing really well. To be honest, it's really easy to play well after you've won two Grand Slam titles and your confidence is at an all-time high. I've been there and I've done that before. You feel pretty much like you can do anything.

Q. At one point Serena said she felt she was playing for the younger sisters of the world. Do you think you're playing for the older sisters of the world?


Q. Can you shake her confidence if her confidence is that high?

VENUS WILLIAMS: (Shrugging her shoulders. ) Not so interested in shaking her confidence. I think any time that I go out there and I'm worried about my opponent's game, I can't even play. I more or less have to focus on myself.

Q. You mentioned how different it is in terms of confidence going in after you won two Grand Slam titles. Looking forward to tomorrow, how different is it for you than say four years ago when you didn't have the credentials yet?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How is it different now?

Q. Yeah, I mean, psychologically. You've been on the big stage, in the finals of quite a few Grand Slams now.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's a lot better definitely having these Grand Slams behind my game. But those were still fun times four years ago. I still look back and I can't remember having bad times.

Q. How important is it for you to regain the No. 1 ranking, which you'll do if you win tomorrow?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it would be real nice. I've played really good for the last couple years and it seems like I can't get to that No. 1 ever - or just stay there. So it would be nice to definitely be on top.

Q. Do you like your game more or less than you did two or three years ago, and why?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If I play too much, I don't like tennis. I can't play a very busy schedule. I have to play just enough. And I have to play for me. As long as I don't play too much, I like it a lot.

Q. Have you played the right amount this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've played a lot, to be honest, for me. I really gave extra effort to play more and to, you know, fulfill my obligations to the tour. But that's been really difficult for me. Really, everyone has different personalties and different points of how much they can play. I think I'm just at that lower threshold.

Q. Is that just because you have other interests and you want to tend to those as well? Is it just too physically demanding?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That could be a factor because I like to do things outside of the tennis court. Just because, you know, I play tennis, shouldn't mean that my whole life should be tennis. I suppose it's just me.

Q. How much do you like to play on that court? Do you really feel you have a good understanding of how to play on Ashe stadium?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's very nice. When you play the match in the semifinals it gets a little bit tricky because of the shade, half and half. As long as I'm just watching the ball, I'm okay.

Q. As one asks tennis fans about Venus and Serena playing each other, they seem to be split. Some would like to see you play each other for the next ten years. Some would feel, "No, we'd like to see something different." Do you think you playing your sister is great for the game or women's tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I don't see why the question could be relevant why it would be bad for tennis. It's never been asked before. So I don't understand the question. It's just hard these days. When you win, there's a problem. When you lose, there's a problem. So what do you want me to do (smiling)?

Q. As much as the fans love you, did you sense they were actually looking for an upset today, just the way they were...

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, maybe. It's -- you know, even when I find myself watching matches, it's always nice to see the lower player do well and to do something fantastic. So I can definitely understand where that's coming from. But I don't know. At least I wanted myself to win out there. I think I had quite a few fans.

Q. Everybody talked about how great the match was between you and Serena in the final at Wimbledon. Result aside, was it enjoyable to play at such a high level with Serena on such a big stage? Did you just have a great time doing it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it was hard, you know, because I lost the match. It wasn't fun, that's for sure. But at least I look back and at least I was the finalist. But it's always nice playing in the Wimbledon final - any final, any tournament.

Q. Next week in New York there's going to be a lot of -- I wouldn't call it celebration -- but the anniversary of the World Trade Center. Have you changed much since last year, how you see yourself as a citizen or whatever since this time last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't say that I've changed. I mean, we all realize that we're living in critical times these days so the best thing to do is say your prayers and read your Bible. That's my opinion.

End of FastScripts….

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