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January 25, 2003

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Venus, how much does this hurt given you were very close this time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They all are not fun to lose, to be honest. This one isn't any different.

Q. It was a very high-standard match. You seemed to appear to play close to the top of your game. I suppose my question is, what do you have to do different to beat Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she played really well and she made me hit a lot of balls. But I think that I kind of backed off my game, wasn't nearly as aggressive as I was my other matches. It's just hard to be -- not to be aggressive in the beginning then change your whole game around in the later part of the match. But, you know, I'll just keep working and moving forward.

Q. Is it just the occasion that made you sort of back off a little bit than you the other days?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the other days I just came out moving forward. This time I didn't basically. I didn't have as many short balls either. At least I didn't feel like I did. Maybe I did and I just didn't notice.

Q. Was the sensation different out there? Did this match feel different than the ones you've played in the other Slam finals, the way the match evolved as well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was just because the roof was closed. It's a little weird playing a final in an outdoor tournament indoors. So it does change the mood a lot. It feels more or less like a night match instead of a day match.

Q. Would the fact that you've played her so many times now in big matches, did that make it less pressure-filled or less complex a match psychologically than previous matches?


Q. Do you sort of get fed up with this sensation? It's four in a row now.

VENUS WILLIAMS: What sensation?

Q. Of losing to Serena in a Grand Slam final.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't like losing altogether, so if it was Serena or any other player. It's just never fun. I'm never going to the finals, saying, "Yes, I'm losing today." I'm going with the attitude I'm going to go out there, do my best and try to take the title. That's definitely my attitude going on to the court every time, is positive.

Q. Are you glad that the roof was closed as far as the heat?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was. It was very hot out there. I guess it can get quite dangerous, especially since a lot of players are -- well, every player is coming from a winter climate. So it can be very, very challenging. I guess it was extremely hot this time.

Q. With the double-faults which came at pretty bad times, a couple of them, was that a self-belief thing almost?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I just -- I didn't have that many, but I guess sometimes it did put me down in the game. But never had a game point against me or anything like that. But obviously there's going to be some mistakes sometimes. Hopefully, less than -- less mistakes than most times, I guess.

Q. After your last Grand Slam you seemed sort of a little tired by the whole scene. I think you said you were going to get away from the hype. Now, with a light fall schedule and six good matches heading up to this, what's your sort of enthusiasm level for tennis right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm really enthused. It's my job. If I'm not playing tennis, it's my main pursuit at this point, so I would like to continue and go on with my next tournaments. And basically I'll just keep improving, go home and go practice.

Q. Overall, obviously not the result you wanted today, but not even having dropped a set heading into this, overall do you take positives away?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess so. I had a doubles title. I'll take that away (laughing).

Q. Could you put Serena's achievement in perspective, somebody who knows the history of the game. Talk about that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, not many people get all four Slams, so that's really wonderful. It really is.

Q. Do you think it's a real Grand Slam, or is it only calendar year that should be considered that way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I never thought about it too much. I mean, it's not like I was winning it (laughing). So I think more or less it was on Serena's mind because she had been able to do all that - all those wins. But that really wasn't on my mind. Four in a row is not easy. Well, it's fun.

Q. You said on the court after the match that you wanted to be like Serena. Is there anything right now that you think marks her apart from you in some way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think right now she's just probably a little mentally tougher out there than I was today. I think maybe that's the main thing that's dropped off in me. Usually I would just really get in there and take a match like that, normally. I'm going to work on it, I'm going to fight and I'm going to concentrate.

Q. When you and Serena are practicing, do you just drill? Did you ever play points?

VENUS WILLIAMS: We play points. We don't really keep score.

Q. The crowd were pretty much behind you. What did you make of that? Why do you think that was?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really hear it. I don't really hear a lot of it. I can hear it maybe especially if they're against me. But I thought it was pretty even. I wasn't paying much attention.

Q. Through conversations with Serena, were you aware that she was desperate to get the Grand Slam? I mean, did you talk about it much?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. We don't talk about Grand Slams a lot. No, I didn't know if she was desperate at all. I don't think she was desperate. I'm sure she was really aiming at it. Why not?

Q. Just wanted to ask you, there was a news reporting in Belgium regarding something to do with Kim Clijsters. I wanted to get your opinion on it. Her dad Leo said that in three years he thought she'd be off the court. In his view it was because of the length of the tour and the amount it takes out of players. I wanted to ask you whether, firstly, you're surprised by that news? Secondly, do you think she might go off the tour?

VENUS WILLIAMS: In another three years she's going to be finished?

Q. That's what he said, yes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's an interesting comment. I mean, obviously as a parent he's quite concerned about his daughter - and with good reason. I also think that the tour is too long. If you're young, for example, I've been working very hard all of my life. Not only do you work on the court, but you work off the court. It's impossible to expect people to be able to play eleven months out of the year, not only the matches, but when you go home. If you're not training, you're going to lose when you do go out to play. It is unreasonable in my opinion. I won't push myself to any level I feel I can't achieve personally. That's just the way I play my schedule. You know, if you don't play a tournament, people are yelling and screaming this and that. But in the end, players have to take care of themselves and choose what's best.

Q. Do you hope that she does play beyond three years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. I think it would be a good thing. I hope, you know, all the players are around who play quite a while. When players are off the tour or a little injury, it gets to be that you miss playing them, especially if they're at the top.

Q. What about Martina Hingis, Venus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope she comes back also. I mean, I haven't played her in I don't know how long. I just think that she needs probably a break. She's been playing since she was 14, nonstop, more tournaments than what I could imagine to enter. I think, you know, she'll take some time and hopefully she'll come back better than ever.

Q. Do you think that's one of the things that keeps you so fresh? In comparison to say Jelena, play half as many?


Q. Dokic. Sorry. I threw a name out.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Normally if I'm playing a tournament, I do at least get to the finals, hopefully win the tournament. That helps me a lot to play a little less, and also mentally and physically it is more draining to compete at a high level always. But I was never encouraged to play a lot by my parents. I was always encouraged to make sure I take myself first, because if I still play, if I don't play, if I live or die, the tour continues. I just think that I'll be taking care of myself. But I'll be playing a lot more tournaments.

Q. How does it make you feel when your younger sister questions calls and yells and slams her racquet when she's playing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's fine. She's always questioning calls and yells and slams the racquet. I'm more or less the one that's kind of silent.

Q. Do you think she sees you as another opponent across the net and you still see Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I never really yell or slam my racquet. She has to see me as another opponent. These are major championships at stake. This is history, a career. When we look back, we want to be legends and go into the Hall of Fame. We're both trying to win the matches, especially ones like this.

Q. You said that she was a bit mentally stronger. Do you feel that, in reference to that, do you feel that she's got a bit of a mean streak?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think it's the momentum, really. When you're on top, you're on top. Really that's the way it is, so... I guess it's just a feeling that you can only explain once you've been there. If any of you guys have been at the very top, or competed in a sport, you'd understand.

Q. How do you stop that run of momentum?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How do I stop it, is not my main interest.

Q. She said before the French Open last year that she had the number of Grand Slams you won in her head. It was motivating for her. She's won five. You've won four. Is it motivating to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's motivating for me. I don't want to be the player that won four Grand Slams, whether she wins five or 15. When you look at the great players who have won 20 and all those kinds of numbers, I still have a long way to go - and not much time, so (laughing). I started a little late. So I definitely have to start racking them up somehow.

Q. Does it help to stay optimistic when the same thing keeps happening?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, definitely when you lose, you're more motivated. When you win, you fail to see your mistakes and probably no one can tell you anything, that kind of thing. But when you lose, you see your mistakes, they're right in your face. You realize, "Yeah, it's true." So...

Q. What did you say to each other after the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: "Good match."

Q. What will you do tonight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What will I do? Well, the first thing I'll do is I'll go to McDonald's. I want my double cheese burger with French fries and a soda. Yes. Second, of course I'll pack my bags and maybe I'll have a dessert (laughing). Things like that.

Q. When you talked about it's a matter of momentum, you're presumably are talking from experience of having won those four. It just comes with winning?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I win a lot, so I understand that when you are winning, then it's just a certain confidence that you have, especially if you're winning the large titles. You go into the match really knowing that, "I've got it. I have this experience. I did it just a month ago. I'll do it again." That's good. But the best part is that, you know, I have some of that experience, too, to be able to win the big ones. It's a good thing to keep in the back pocket.

Q. Third set, you won the second set, momentum was in your favor. You come out and she saves a breakpoint. You played a weak service game. Even though you broke her back later, was that a pivotal part of the match for you, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. I think we played pretty even. Every now and then both of us would have some weak games and then sometimes we'd have some really strong holds or a good break. But, no, I think sometimes when you get a break early it's easier to break back as far as if you get a break late in the set.

Q. Would you consider going outside of the fold to get a competitive advantage, maybe some extra coaching or a different path to maybe, as I said, give you that competitive edge?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I couldn't deal with a coach. I like my mom and dad because they're really laid back. Once we leave the court, we don't talk about tennis, strategy, all that. The coach, if I hired a coach, they'd want to talk about strategy, scout other players, they'd want to do all that stuff that I don't want to do. They wouldn't be able to tell me anything, we'd get in an argument and it wouldn't be good. I really like my current situation. I think that once mom and dad get tired, I think Serena and I will kind of coach each other (laughter). I don't want a coach.But my parents are good. They know that at least I work better when I can make my own plan. When I'm playing, I don't look up in my box or anything like that. It's all about me at that point. I don't like too much instruction because I can think on my own. Maybe I'm different from other players that need a lot of support. I think Serena is the same.

Q. Can you still, at times, take advice from other people?


Q. I don't know, Fed Cup with Billie Jean.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, Billie Jean is great. Sometimes people can say things in a different way that really gets you to understand it or it paints a better picture in your mind, sure. That's nice also.

Q. What are you going to read on the plane tomorrow? Maybe sleep?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll read, maybe study. But it just depends. Watch a movie.

End of FastScripts….

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