April 26, 2003
CZECH REPUBLIC vs. USA, LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Venus.
Q. It seemed like after that second game you just started perking up.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I wanted to get a break right away. The tension and the competition is different in the Fed Cup. I really, really wanted to play well for the team and not just for me. So I really believe my intensity level was at a different level because of that. I'm hoping I can take this on to my other matches, too.
Q. You pretty much did everything right today - you served well, you returned really well, pretty aggressively. Were you pretty happy overall?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was very happy because I've been working very hard in practice with Billie and Zina, been working on a lot of things. It's paid off in the match. I was very excited. Even though the score line looked easy, she played really well. I had to hit my winners, I had to push her out of the way. I had to make her make the forced error. Because the court was fast, she was taking advantage of that with the serve and volleys, and coming in. So I think toward the end there, I was able to get a few free points.
Q. Seems like you took her heart away when she had the 40-love lead and you came back and took that game.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
Q. Do you remember that particular game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was trying to watch her body language. But more than anything, I was really, really interested in really staying focused the whole time, which I thought I did well, and just getting the win for the team (laughing).
Q. I thought you did excellent. Did you control her rhythm?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, maybe. Every player has a rhythm they like to play at. Once they get out of that rhythm, then that's tough. But I can play fast, slow. I can't really say I exactly have a rhythm because I'm always playing fast. So if anything, I guess I don't let players get into a rhythm.
Q. What did you think of the atmosphere of the arena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, wonderful. From the very first point, it was great. I never played in a place like that before. It was really, really good. You can just tell people are so excited to have tennis here in Lowell. It's very, very nice. Everywhere you go, there's Fed Cup posters - the bookstore, museum, went to the spa, everybody knows about Fed Cup.
Q. Could you sense her getting frustrated as the match wore on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bit in the second set I did feel like she was, because it's hard. When you're playing, you try to say, "Okay, this is not working, let's go to something else." You try to figure out what the answer is. She probably got to the point where she couldn't find an answer and didn't know what to do.
Q. Compared to the previous times you had played her, were there any changes or anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I remember playing her once. I don't know if I've ever played her again. But I think she tried to play a lot faster today than the times I've seen her play and the time that I did play against her.
Q. Say that again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she tried to play faster today, to really take it to me, just come out and take the match.
Q. You like to play fast, don't you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Fast, slow... If someone plays slow, maybe it's harder because they come in. If they play fast, maybe they're not used to that. When I concentrate on my game, if someone beats me that day, they played better.
Q. You hit a slam-dunk-Pete Sampras-type overhead.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know (laughing). All of a sudden, my legs went up and there I was. I wasn't even thinking about it. I just did it. That was so much fun. You really have to time it. I wasn't even thinking about timing it. I just jumped up. That was nice.
Q. Given the fans are here to see you two and victory is assumed, do you feel additional pressure to put on a show?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no, no, no, no. Going into the match, like the first game, I was down 15-40. It was very, very even for the first four games. I think what made the difference is my week of practice, of course, and I was really, really, really determined to get the win for the team. I really wanted to do my part and start out well. It's so much easier for the second player to know there's a little lead there. That's really what I wanted to do. I knew she was going to come out and really try to play because I've played Fed Cup before, I know how people come out and play very well.
Q. Have you made a commitment beyond this weekend for Fed Cup?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really want to play next time assuming that we're able to win. Of course it's 1-love now. But assuming that we do get the win, I would love to play the next one.
Q. What is it about this experience that's sold you on the fact that, "Hey, I want to come back"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just had so much fun with the whole team. I've learned so much from Zina and Billie. I've been able to really work hard and focus. I don't have any excuse of why I can't show up to practice (laughter)...like at home, so... I really just had a great time. I really feel like I've grown as a player, and I don't really want to give up this kind of experience.
Q. Do you have to recruit your sister into this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, she's a separate person, so I don't know what she'll do. But I'm sold. I love it. I love playing for the team. It's an unbelievable feeling. Even though the score line was not as difficult today, I felt very, very excited. I was very excited because it wasn't just for me, it was for the team. We had a lead. It was great.
Q. What have you learned this week? You said you learned a lot. What have you learned, specifically?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that Billie and Zina, they have a whole lot of experience. Even if I don't quite agree with something or I have a different way of doing it this week, whatever they said, I did it right away and I found out that it was correct. I think that's helped a lot. Also, it's very, very helpful to hear it, hear someone say the same thing, but in a different way. Because I've been working with my coaches for years and years, and sometimes it can just go in one ear and out the other ear, you don't really hear what they're saying. Today, or this week, I've had to listen up and do it right. I think that has been very, very good for me.
Q. This is something you'll carry on beyond the Fed Cup?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, for sure. I have to, I really do, in order to play well. More than anything, I'm having fun. I had a lot of fun out there. Sometimes I was ready to smile - but I knew I'd lose focus - because I was doing things that I'd done in practice and we talked about. I was ready to laugh and give someone a high-five, but it wasn't time for that (laughter).
Q. What about in terms of getting your game to the next level? I know your level is high, obviously. You said there are things you can carry on.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, my level's pretty good, as a player. I think it's just the small things like getting more first serves in or more placement or a deeper second serve or more balls in play. I think Billie and Zina understand it's the small things that take you above and beyond the rest of your competition. So that's what I've been working on this week. I don't even know what the other players have been working on. But each session, even when I'm hitting with the other players, is very individualized. So you get a lot of attention and it's nice.
Q. Was that as well as you've served in a long time? If it was, was it a direct result of Zina and Billie?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Even before I got here, I'd really been working on my toss, to control it, because it's been difficult for me to keep that ball in the same place, and it throws off my serve. But, yeah, we've been working on it, and that's especially one specific thing that's helped. I do want to serve better. I've been working on my serve the last two weeks a lot, and it's a really key part to my game. I win a lot of points off of it. I feel if I can serve even better, it's gonna just help me even more.
Q. How much do you know about Czech Republic? Can you find it on a map?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know a lot about the Czech Republic. I remember I was watching this program on TV (laughing). It was about the Golen. So I know a little bit about that. I don't know a lot. I do know that I really, really, really want to go to Prague, but there's not a high enough level tournament. Maybe one day if we play the Czech Republic again, it will be in Prague. But if I have some time off, a couple of days...
Q. What about the rest of the weekend in terms of this tie, what's gonna happen, do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm gonna go out there now, support Serena in the singles, and tomorrow, I'm the second singles match. Hopefully, Serena will get the win today and we'll have a good start for tomorrow. But it goes by fast, this weekend.
Q. You looked so good out there in that uniform.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Which uniform, the USA?
Q. The dress itself, the red, white and blue motif. You looked so great. The American Davis Cup players look like bums (laughter). Do you have to get your sponsor to agree to make that sort of dress?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure exactly the rules. Because everyone around me, like the contacts from Reebok, they make sure they get the right apparel, so they don't contact me directly. I do know they wanted...
Q. Reebok made your dress?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, this is my US Open dress, though. I think Serena's is completely different, it's got the colors on it. It's no problem. I think they wanted us to wear certain colors, but I don't quite remember. Especially for the doubles, they want you to look the same. Hopefully, they'll approve of the outfits.
Q. You're way ahead of the men.
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Laughing).
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.