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June 23, 2003

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Questions for Venus Williams. Who wants to start?

Q. That seemed quite straightforward for a first match.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was a really good match out there. I was pretty happy with what was going on. It's always nice to have a good match in the first round.

Q. How is the injury coming along?

VENUS WILLIAMS: So far so good. I just have to not get crazy, especially in practice, not to overdo it, which is easy to do.

Q. This was your first match on grass this season, is that correct?


Q. Have you been practicing on grass in the United States or did you come over here early and practice?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, in the States just on hard court. It rained so much where I'm living in Florida, the few grass courts that are, are usually drenched. I get over here early on the grass.

Q. Did you find them any different from last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so, no. I don't think I paid so much attention to that. I think I was just paying attention to the ball and how it bounces, but not really to the court. Plus each court is different, the match courts.

Q. Do you find it quite easy to adjust from clay to grass?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, very easy to adjust for me from hard to clay, clay to grass. It's always okay for me.

Q. Is that injury still affecting your serve? What is it specifically now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What is it specifically?

Q. Yes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was an abdominal -- abdominal strain (laughter). Oh, boy, stomach strain, whatever you want to say.

Q. You were saying it was affecting your serve at the French.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a tough time at the French. Those times are over. I'm looking forward to a new tournament. It's quite nice to be here, a lot healthier.

Q. Does it affect your serve here at this new tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it affects my serve, no.

Q. When you're not able to practice the way you'd like to because of the injury, does that affect your confidence in any way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure it affects your confidence. Definitely confidence comes from practice and knowing that you can do it in practice, that you can work on what you need to work on. That's always tough, to know that you can't get out there and do what you need to do to be prepared to even play.

Q. Your dad said he senses that you have your old presence or aura back. I was wondering, do you feel that, too? If so, is it just being back on grass, being healthy? What do you attribute to that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My dad's always really positive, so he alway says nice things, especially if I'm not playing that well, so that way I can feel good. What do I think? I just have had a lot more time to prepare, always love grass, I'm having fun. But I enjoy playing tennis. I enjoy doing what I do. Each time I like to do better. So if there are times I'm not doing well, of course, I find out a way to do better each time.

Q. Do you feel you have kind of like your mojo back, for lack of a better word?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know if I'd put it that way.

Q. How would you put it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just feel I'm playing a little bit better. But this is just one match. The next match I'll have to continue to play even better than today. So I'm not exactly focused on what's happened so far.

Q. How would you characterize your reception today by the fans? Was it any different from other years you've played here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was real nice. They were very nice. I noticed, at least in the first game, they clapped on my nice shots and they clapped on her nice shots. That's always nice. Really classy crowd today.

Q. Is this your favorite Grand Slam tournament because of the fans, the tradition?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely one of my favorite Grand Slams because of all the good things that have happened to me here, and because also I love the grass. It's quite a lot of fun for me to play on it. But normally my favorite Grand Slam is the one I'm playing in at that moment.

Q. Or the one you're winning?


Q. What do you think about the fact that they've done away with the curtsy, the tradition part of it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think that was one of the best parts of this tournament, was the tradition, and to be a part of it is always very nice. Hopefully they'll reconsider.

Q. What did you like about the curtsying? Is it the fact that it's been going on for so long?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just something that was automatic, and that was very nice.

Q. It was a striking outfit you had on court.


Q. Can you tell us about that? Who designed it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay. It all started last year in December and November with Reebok and Diane von Furstenberg. We sat down and had a meeting and then there was a partnership between both of us or all of us. And from there on we started having drawings going back and forth. And finally this corset dress came into being. It was kind of a mixture. What I really wanted was it to be very fashion forward and for it to be just very eye-catching. I think the first designs were really, really nice, but it wasn't -- I was always pushing, pushing, pushing for something more out there. So then once this came to be, it was really nice. It was a process, just like everything else.

Q. You helped design it yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I can't take all the credit, but I'll take half the credit.

Q. Does somebody have to lace you into it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's a pull-on.

Q. It's false?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's easy to get into.

Q. So you don't have to lace that every time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I don't buy things that you have to lace up.

Q. What was Diane von Furstenberg like?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's really nice. She's a classy lady. The thing is I learned about her in fashion history at school. I've worn her dresses before I even met her, so that was quite nice.

Q. Did you pick her or they picked her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Reebok had a new lady in marketing, and she of course brainstormed ideas to get the more creative designs, of course to get Reebok noticed a little bit more than what it already had been with outfits I was wearing.

Q. Was she receptive to it in the beginning? This is not normally what you would think.


Q. Diane.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just didn't want to be the person who knew it all. Everywhere I go, of course, I'm new on the scene, and I don't like to tell someone else what to do, especially if they have more experience than me. If I had suggestions, I would gently put them forward. But the best part was I didn't have to wear anything that I wasn't happy with. So ultimately I think a lot of the design was definitely up to me.

Q. This is not the type thing we know her for.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, in a way it is kind of a thing that you do know her for because with her dresses, they have so much shape, movement and form. That's kind of the same thing that's happening with this dress, too. It's moving so much. It has really a beautiful shape and it's really very classy. That's really what Diane's all about.

Q. The last time you won here, you were reading the latest Harry Potter novel.


Q. Did you camp out and get the latest one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't. I don't know if I'm going -- I might be a little old now. I'm 23, I've got to really focus on things that are really going to enrich my life a little more (laughter).

Q. You're going to give up the series in the middle?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Is it book number four now?

Q. Number five.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Did I miss the fourth one? I don't know what's happening.

Q. What are you reading?


Q. Well, not right now.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sounds crazy, but I'm reading a textbook. It's called Apparel Manufacturing. Strange cookie.

Q. For pleasure?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have the Steven King book called the -- the movie that Cathy Bates was in.

Q. Misery?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Dolores Claiborne. But I haven't read any of it yet. It's by the bedside.

Q. Your mother was with you at the French, your father is here. Do you have a preference? Do they take turns?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My mom is here, too. I love having my dad with me also. I like having them both. They both have different methods of teaching.

Q. Who is more technical?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They're both pretty technical.

Q. Are you the type of person that will learn more when things aren't going as well as maybe they had in the past?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think, in my opinion, anyone learns more from mistakes and failures, when you fall. But when you're on the high and you're winning all the time, at least for me, a lot of times you don't really notice your mistakes because things are going well.

Q. Are you saying you've become more introspective because you've had a tougher year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would have loved to have had a better year, but it's not so bad. I would have liked to have played more tournaments. That's what I'm going to try doing the second half. I think it helps me be a little more competitive. I had to pull out of a couple because of various reasons, but I'm looking forward to playing a few more tournaments.

Q. What do you think you're going to get out of playing Fed Cup at the end of the month?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought you said, "When am I going to get out of it?"

Q. No.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I love working with Billie and Zina. At the last Fed Cup, I think it was - at least for me and maybe the whole team - the most fun yet, Fed Cup. We were at the dinner. Serena had a shoe on, the heel came off. Serena was sliding along. We really just had such a great time at Fed Cup. I mean, of course, being on the court with Billie and Zina is really the best part. The weekend of matches is always good, too. People really enjoy it, every time that I've played at least.

Q. What does Billie do for your game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's just really positive. She just loves tennis, she really does, more than any other person I've met that's a professional person. She really has a passion for it. She really understands the game. She'll say some things that my mom and dad probably have said a hundred times, but she'll say it in a different way, and I might get a few things every now and then. So that's nice.

Q. Does she talk about the history, the struggles she went through in her time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she's really willing to share. The best part is you can get as much information and help. Billie is willing to help you 24 hours a day, she's a giving person and she's really honest. You don't get that a lot these days. That's the best part. She'll call and check on you, wish you happy birthday. She just wants to know you're okay. That's the best part. She doesn't have any ulterior motives. She doesn't want anything in return.

Q. Security is a bit higher this year than it has been in the past. Do you have any particular concerns, stalkers, any other issues?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. She said I don't have to answer that.

MODERATOR: Tennis questions.

Q. What do you think about no curtsying?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I wish there was a bow and a curtsy. Did you get here late?

Q. As a two-time champion here, do you get impatient? Is there ever a point where you say, "Enough of this, I have to get started again, back to where I was"? Does it make you impatient to get the next one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just know that I have to do what it takes to win a Grand Slam, and that isn't always a given. Also I think a lot of times too much emphasis is put on the Grand Slams also. There's a lot of wonderful WTA events that I love playing also. It's definitely where you put your priorities. I'd love to win here.

Q. But you've not gotten frustrated?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I think a lot of people would love to be in the position I'm in, to even have a chance to win a Grand Slam. Seeing that I am in that position, I'm not going to get wistful for other things.

Q. Andre Agassi says every day he really believes he can actually play better than he's ever played before. Do you still feel that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely relate to that. I definitely do. He should give me some pointers (laughter). I definitely understand what he means. I mean, at times I have to slow myself down and say, "Venus, every shot doesn't have to be the greatest and the best. Sometimes it's okay to hit a shot that's regular." I always believe that I can do more than what's normal. But I think that's what you have to believe. That's what I was taught to believe.

End of FastScripts….

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