September 7, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question for Venus, please.
Q. You never seemed to completely find your rhythm out there, especially after the first set. Second set, you seemed kind of to lose track of what was happening. Talk about the match a little.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I did the best I could today. You know, I did make a lot of errors, it makes it tough to win the match. I think Serena was the best player in the whole tournament this year. I have to give it to her for that. My game went down after the fourth round. I just couldn't do a thing to bring it back up. Before, in the first, second, and third rounds, I was playing great. But after that, I just couldn't do anything to bring it back.
Q. How much did it hurt you that you didn't serve as well as you did in the last couple matches, especially with your first serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I served pretty well as far as, you know, first serves. I mean, I think she just returned really well.
Q. Was there a tactical decision to take a little bit off the first serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought it was quite heavy, you know. For most people, it's a pretty heavy serve.
Q. Could you talk about just the two weeks Serena had here. She didn't drop a set. She played terrific the whole time. Put this all in perspective?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I played here last year and didn't drop a set either, so I guess I know what it's like to be playing so well or at least better than everyone else.
Q. What is that confidence like? Breezing into a final, having not been challenged.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's great. I think she's had a great year. I think she's had a great schedule as far as having enough rest. You know, also the last couple of years haven't been her best years, so I think she was really rejuvenated and really motivated to come out here and to play well this year. She had a lot to play for.
Q. What do you have to do to beat her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just play better than her, basically.
Q. How do you accomplish that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, play better than her.
Q. You said that Serena had a great year with her scheduling. Do you think perhaps you played too much coming into the US Open this time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just that I -- sure, I would have liked to stay home and practice the week before, but, you know, I'm trying to play enough tournaments in the schedule to I guess make the tour happy. And then, you know, it's just been year after year for me, just playing and playing, always defending points. Sometimes it just gets -- it's just hard to play as well every year. I think I did play well, except there was always a better player standing in front of me.
Q. You said you played great the first three rounds. She said you played great through practice, much better than she in practice. Was there one defining moment where it started to turn that you can think of?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely in my fourth-round match. I couldn't do anything right. After that, I posed and pretended that I was doing well, but I don't think I was doing as well as I would have liked.
Q. In terms of Serena, I don't know if there was a similar turning point or just when she walked in the gate here, when did you realize just how on she was and what kind of tournament she was headed for this week or this past two weeks?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, to be honest.
Q. Did she just have it from the start?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Did she what?
Q. That confidence, that game, kind of everything was -- I know you said for you it kind of fell a little bit after fourth round. Was there a time for her when it really stepped up, or did she have it all along?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess you have to ask her. I don't know.
Q. Are you able to see her as an opponent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, sure. I mean, when you go out there and someone's playing that well, they can't be anything else except an opponent normally.
Q. During the ceremony, she looked over at you. She came over and said something. What did she say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You may have to ask her. I can't say.
Q. Is the level of your game the same as compared to the same time last year, or has Serena's game just improved so much compared to the same time last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my level's about the same. I think mentally I'm not there as much. I think Serena's level is definitely more up than last year. I think what I could do is just -- I have to go home and just go home.
Q. You started attacking the net sort of late in the second set. It was working a little bit. Is that something you should have done from the outset?
VENUS WILLIAMS: There weren't really a lot of short balls, you know? I would have tried, but there weren't a lot of short balls.
Q. Was that one of the things you wanted to do going into the match? Was she just hitting too deep?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I volleyed well. If I can get in there and make my shot, it's great. But I don't think I had as many opportunities to come in. And for sure, I like the baseline. It's pretty much the stable thing in my game.
Q. Do you know why you're not -- you say mentally you're not there as much. Do you know why you're not there as much?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just tired. Basically.
Q. Too many matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what it is. I just think I need to have a break, basically. I think I've done well as far as getting to the finals. Of course that's not an easy feat at all. But then Serena played always better than me. Then also I've just -- it's a long story. I can't get into it.
Q. We got time.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It all started in 1962... (Smiling).
Q. Are you considering taking a break, six, eight months? Something like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Just two or three tournaments this fall and then just trying to enjoy a normal life. I've had a great year, more than any other person, besides Serena, could ask for I guess. That's been great. But I would like to just go home and practice and relax. I think it's gonna be a lot better because I'm not going to school this fall. I won't have that pressure on me either.
Q. Do these three losses to Serena discourage you, or do they charge you up, motivate you to want to go out...
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think losses always help you to work harder, for sure. Because you always learn more from your losses. When you win, your head's always in the clouds. At times it's tough to see the mistakes and to see where you might fall in the future. But any loss is never a barrel of fun.
Q. Being a bit tired, are you enjoying your tennis as much as you were?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at this tournament, not as much as the rest. Not as much. You know, I just had to tune out everything, people just wear you to death, and talk so much. This and that. I just wanted to get away from the hype, you know.
Q. Is it the hype surrounding you or the hype surrounding Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just the hype surrounding everything.
Q. Do you feel like now, though, that there's a shift, that for all the attention you had for so long, now it's been shifted on to Serena? Is it just as much on you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think Serena likes the attention.
Q. More than you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't like it so much. But I think she's more of a outgoing person maybe than what I am. I think everyone has their year, and this is her year, and next year could be her year also - I don't know. But I'm glad she's done well.
Q. One of the great things about tennis is there's always another tournament, another Grand Slam.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Any thoughts in how you can improve your record at the Australian Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's the Slam I've never done as well at. I would love to play well there. I'm gonna start with preparing a lot earlier instead of like one week before (laughing). That would probably give me the upper hand.
Q. What's it like to serve to someone who returns as well as she does?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, normally I don't think anyone can return my serve that well, not even Serena. But it's just sometimes people are just in the zone for a tournament, months, for years. That's how it turns out.
Q. You think she's pretty much been in the zone since February?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just think she's been able to play well at the right times. Surely she hasn't been able to play her best every point, every match. But it's a sign of a champ when you can pull out the best times.
Q. Did you think of serving, running to the net maybe?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought of it, yes, indeed, I have.
Q. Why don't you do it more often?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't practice it. I can't do anything I don't practice. I need to start practicing that.
Q. How hard is it to lose to anybody three times in a row, never mind it being your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, it never really happens to me anymore - three times in a row. But I guess we're even now.
Q. Did you know where most of your family was sitting during the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, no. I mean, I can't see so far.
Q. Two opponents were from the same family. I was wondering about that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Shaking her head no).
Q. I noticed you practiced this morning. What was the last thing your father said to you before you went on the court this morning?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Nothing extremely important, so I guess that's why I don't remember.
Q. Do you think the two of you would be as good as you are, as each of you is, if you didn't have each other growing up, practicing against each other?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we would be, yeah, because honestly, no matter what the next person does and no matter what the other result is, it's all about what you can do and how hard you can push yourself and how well -- whatever you can get out of yourself. No matter if Serena played well -- there's been other brothers and sisters who have been on the tour also, and they haven't done what we've done. I think it's all about that we were dedicated and we had great people to work with us, and that we really believed in what we were doing. I think that, sure.
Q. Have you pushed yourself as hard as you can?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No (smiling). I'm not the hardest worker. I've tried, but I have to definitely get out there and give it a little go.
Q. You've talked in the past about as the older sister you have to be the protector. Do you still feel like that? Have you evolved away from that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. Serena has a problem, then I definitely -- I take care of it. If she needs something taken care of, I'm the one. If I can't do it, my other sister does it. If she can't do it, we turn it over to our mom, so on and so forth.
Q. Any examples you'd like to share with us of you being the older sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't think of any examples without giving anything away. If she has a problem, she needs me to talk to someone, I'm more than ready to do it, and I enjoy it (laughing).
Q. Who protects you then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have older sisters. If I tell Serena, "Serena, I need to talk about something," then, well, we'll talk about it.
Q. Can you envision a situation where you would maybe -- where it would be beneficial for both of you to be less close?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Why?
Q. Pardon me?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Why?
Q. Perhaps if one of you thought you needed to, to be able to compete with the other at a certain stage.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Martina, on TV, made a point that she was disappointed yesterday that the crowd was for Amelie instead of you, being an American. There's so much about not wanting to see a Williams-Williams final. Do you still feel that backlash?
VENUS WILLIAMS: All I know is that I don't know. That's fine. I just don't know. I don't know anything as far as what the fans feel. I've never met anyone who's walked up to me and said, "I don't want to see a Williams-Williams final. Lose." I haven't met those people yet.
Q. How does it feel to have lost to your sister instead of if you lost to another tour player?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A loss is a loss. It's all the same, sure. But I'm still proud of Serena. She definitely earned it. When you walk out there and win Grand Slams, it's not because someone gave it to you.
Q. You don't seem as disappointed as you did after Wimbledon. You don't seem as downcast. Is there any reason for that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wouldn't show my emotions anyway. I try not to.
Q. Is it basically because you're just sort of relieved that Grand Slam season is over?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. But I mean, should I come in here crying?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's not worth it.
Q. Inside, is there a lot of disappointment?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as -- maybe I could have played better - maybe. Maybe I could have made more shots. But believe it or not, it wasn't easy out there.
Q. Looked pretty tough.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Have you identified which tournaments you're going to play before the next Grand Slam?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have to check my schedule. I'm playing a few tournaments in Europe.
Q. And after your break?
VENUS WILLIAMS: After a break?
Q. After the off-season break, will you play one or two or none?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'm not sure.
Q. You said you'd never met a fan who said they didn't want a Williams-Williams final, but do you have a feeling that the crowd was kind of flat tonight, that they really weren't into the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't have that feeling. No. I think there were a lot of great points. More than anything, the crowd likes to be entertained.
Q. I don't know if you were asked this question already, but what's with the white tape on your hand?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had a blister that developed the last minute.
Q. On the palm?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Bad place.
Q. Who are you pulling for in the men's final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.
Q. Are you going to watch it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably not.
Q. You're going to let Pete down, huh?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think Pete's got all he needs.
Q. Can you describe how much power Serena has in her game and what it's like to stand across from her when she's hitting what seems to be the hardest shots any woman has ever hit.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she definitely is playing power with consistency. I wasn't as consistent today or as in any other Grand Slam finals. Just going to have to go out there and get much more interested in getting more balls in play, basically.
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