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June 25, 2003

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Venus Williams.

Q. Backhand cross-court shot you delivered at 3-3 seemed to ignite your game. Can you talk about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That was just a wonderful shot. I was just trying to run for every ball and go for everything. I just tried to do what it took. That was real, real fun. But she was really serving well and trying to put the pressure on, so it was real close in that first part of the set.

Q. Did that get you in a groove, get your mind set differently?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That definitely helped. I think that point was 15-Love or 40-Love. I don't know. But it helped me definitely break her serve for the first time in the match.

Q. How is your fitness, the stomach, all the various problems you've had? Are you okay now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm feeling good, you know. I'm going out for the doubles later. Really what I have to do is just soak myself in ice (laughter), warm up those stiff joints because I'm older than what I used to be at 23.

Q. How much of yourself to you put in ice?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, just depends if it's a good day or a bad day, just like any other player, icing just to make sure that nothing happens or flares up.

Q. After some disappointments coming into this tournament, how are you feeling right now about your game, with two wins behind you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm definitely feeling good about my game. I feel good about myself at all times. That's enough for me.

Q. You seem to show so little emotion out there on the court, until you actually win, then the smiles come out. Can you tell us what's going on inside?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm definitely competing for every point. I'm definitely trying to focus. I understood how she would come out and play me. I've played her before and I've seen her play other top players also. So I knew she'd come out and give it her all, go for broke, so I had to be ready for that.

Q. Is it fair to say that you're not the most emotional player on court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, nothing really bothers me on court, mistakes or anything else. But I'm just really trying to think my way through the match.

Q. I know this place is special to you. What would getting back on top here mean to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's definitely not my focus at this point. For sure the third round at this point, the doubles first round. I think I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to have to win a title. I know that I have the ability to win anywhere that I play, so I'll just have to go out there and play better than the next person every single time.

Q. The American tennis innovator Gladys Heldman died the other day. What did you know about her and what are your thoughts about her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Gladys Heldman, she was definitely part of the beginning of the women's tennis tour. I guess what I know most about her is what I read in books. I think I had a chance to meet her once. I didn't know that she passed away. I'm sorry.

Q. Recent history. The Chris-Martina era, were you more of a Chrissy person or Martina person?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, that was kind of before my memory started (laughter). I remember them. I don't really remember them ever playing each other.

Q. Do you have any sort of feeling about being more like either one of them?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely consider myself a Martina, just a go-getter, more aggressive. But also I guess I'm like Chris, too, you know, I'm not really emotional out there on the court. But both are real champs. What I remember is Chris' last match. That's what I remember of her career. Martina, I guess in the '90s is when I really start remembering stuff. I was eight, nine, six, in the '80s, so it was hard.

Q. Chris had that more of glam image, marriage to another tennis player. Martina did so much about making the game more physically fit. Have those two merged now? Are most players kind of a combination?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea. I'm just doing my best every day to play good, look good, whatever it takes (laughter).

Q. Is it important for you to do both?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, for sure. For me, it's important. I don't know about anyone else. I think for Serena it's very important.

Q. How come?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we were taught to try to look good. You know, my mom. If you don't look your best, someone else will.

Q. Can you imagine 20 years from now a young player being in your seat, "When you were growing up, were you in the Venus camp or the Serena camp?" Is that something you can imagine?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it will happen. It will happen. It's a long time from now. I guess you guys will still be here - I won't (laughter).

Q. What would be the Venus camp and what would be the Serena camp? What traits?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Pretty similar, I think. I think there's a few places where it could be different. I guess whoever would pick who would just have a natural affinity towards myself or Serena just because whatever.

Q. How do you feel about being overtaken by the Belgian girls in the world rankings?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it's never fun to be No. 4, especially if you've been No. 1 before. I just wasn't able to keep up with the amount of tournaments they played, I guess, to sum it up.

Q. Does it give you extra sort of determination now to get back?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll do my best to get back in the rankings. I'm not going to significantly -- I'm not going to play 25 tournaments. I just wouldn't be able to. I think I'd die on the court. But I do plan on playing consistently year after year, which is extremely important also.

Q. How do you feel about the treatment that Serena got in Paris? I know it's sort of away from today's game.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't see the match, but I heard a whole lot about it, and not just from I guess -- I guess, mostly from fans also. Everyone who comes up to me tells me how they thought it was terrible. They've been really supportive about just Serena and myself in general also. So that's been nice. But, you know, I guess I'll have to talk to Serena about it, how to handle those situations. I didn't see the match. I'm sure she handled it well as far as her tennis, but there's probably some things you can do to calm the crowd down.

Q. How has the fitness of the players changed since you've been on tour?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think for sure the fitness changed a lot. I think a lot of it had to do with Serena and I because, you know, I was like 16, I came out hitting these 116 serves, running and jumping like no tomorrow, then everyone else started to realize, too, they had to up the serve and the pace. Then Serena burst on the scene and did just unbelievable things. This is always a good thing. I'm glad that I was able to be a leader in fitness and in tennis for women. I'm glad that other people have been able to take it to another level, and so will I have to keep taking it to another level to compete.

Q. Why do you feel that you were booed when you left the court at Roland Garros? Some say it was because you turned down an interview with a popular French TV figure.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably why, yeah. I don't see how so many people -- I guess he was there. I wasn't really thinking about an interview at all.

Q. Serena said she felt you shouldn't have played at the French Open. She said it in a very supportive way.


Q. She wasn't expecting you to play doubles here because she felt you might not have been up to it or ready for it. Is that a fair assessment of your situation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I still wouldn't change anything that I did. I wanted to play the French Open. I just had to. And as far as doubles here, it's another kind of thing I had to do. I love the doubles, especially at Wimbledon. And I miss the doubles. And I had to play. You know, for some reason if I can't continue or if it puts me in jeopardy for my singles, I'll have to make that decision at that point. But I just had to play. Usually I start out serving, so Serena will start out serving, so I'll have to hit less serves.

Q. It will be a change?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It will be a change, but I know she's up to it (smiling).

Q. You mentioned your mother's influence. Was it nice having both your parents in the box today supporting you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely nice. I don't look up to the box a lot, but it's nice, especially if I'm down in a match, I can hear them saying, "Come on, Venus. Do better, Venus." Just to have that support, because at times you know how bad you're playing and you feel a little bit down because you know you can do better. But if you have someone, family, coach, what have you in the box telling you it's okay, it helps a lot.

Q. It's been a while since they've both been there at the same time.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't think since like maybe in Miami. But I didn't stick around long there.

Q. You mentioned when you burst onto the scene, you were hitting the ball hard, running around. Today for six games your opponent could stay with you, then you kind of went away. Do you sense the other girls are kind of still have some ground to make up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not even sure. I'm just not super concerned about how the next player's training and hitting and what have you. But I think everyone, for sure, has gotten better as far as the physique and the service pace and athleticism, for sure.

Q. You're a fashion person. If you got an assignment from Women's Wear Daily to compare your lovely white dress you're wearing with Serena's provocative cat suit at the US Open, what would be your key points in your story?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Can I get back to you on that?

Q. I'll ask again. Think about it. You're on deadline.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm thinking about it, okay.

Q. When you did first come on tour, you were hitting these serves, you weren't showing as much muscle. Serena has always been more muscular. Jennifer bulked up. People commented on that. Have you seen that kind of become more the norm? Do you think that's a good thing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think everyone's definitely trying to get more stronger. I don't think necessarily bulkier. I don't think I could bulk up if I wanted to. I don't think I could. I could stay in the gym for the rest of my life, I'd never get bigger. So for me, my strength is just something natural, something I was born with, something from mom and dad really.

Q. People are used to seeing a lot of the women players now stronger?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, as of recently I've seen a lot of players. Really just the tone and definition has gotten a lot more distinct.

Q. Why do you think British women are performing so badly at the moment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I've been listening to all the commentary on that. I have no idea. I've just wondered if there's enough playing opportunities because of the weather here and because of the winter, if there's enough indoor courts, what have you. I heard I think John Felgate, he was doing an interview, saying how a lot of the kids are in school, which is extremely important, but then they don't give enough time also to the tennis. As they get older, they have more time, but then it's maybe late. I'm not sure of the habits of the youngsters growing up here, so it's hard to comment on it.

Q. Are you surprised at the results?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Am I surprised?

Q. Yes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess, you know, during the first few days, that's all there is on TV, the British tennis, so I've been able to watch the results. I like to watch any match, as long as it's a good match.

Q. In the tournament, who is the one person to beat or is it open?

VENUS WILLIAMS: One person to beat? I don't know if it's open. I think everyone's pretty much performed to a good level, at least on the part of the draw I'm in. I guess the person to beat is whoever I'm playing in the third round.

Q. Is anyone frightening you so far?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. No, nothing to fear on the tennis court.

End of FastScripts….

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