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June 27, 2003

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Venus Williams. Who would like to ask the first question?

Q. You looked very assured, very comfortable out there. How do you feel it went today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel it went really well. I really felt that I could have put maybe some more pace on the ball. But I definitely was trying to stick to my game plan. I knew I was also up against a really good player. I know she's been out injured for the last year, so that makes her even more eager to do well at a tournament like this.

Q. She also did quite well at the French. Were you surprised she didn't perhaps offer more problems for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it was any of her fault at all, I don't think. I think I just had a really good day out there. I just had all the right shots. I guess there will be other times when she'll definitely do better against me.

Q. When is the last time you felt like you just had all the right shots, and from the very beginning you were just making it impossible for your opponent to do anything?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess Wednesday (smiling).

Q. You must be delighted that you've come back after a little bit of a break after the French, seem to be right into top form?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I'm a professional tennis player. There's no excuses for me. I have to perform. If I have a bad day, it's a bad day, but I come back stronger.

Q. You said your form today was just as good as it was Wednesday, but a different kind of opponent today: more dangerous, reached the semis at Roland Garros.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely a different kind of opponent, but I felt they have the same game: very flat hitters, both of them had nothing to lose against me and both were going to come out against me and go for broke. I do realize that when I play against certain kinds of players, whereas other players may think they have a chance, so they might not go for as much.

Q. Was your rhythm as good as it was before the injury now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think better. I really definitely focused on my game, worked really hard. I guess I'm just doing a lot better, to sum it up.

Q. Do you find your other interests, with your interior design business, that it helps you when you've had a shock result, had to take time out with injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Definitely I work a lot harder when I haven't had the results that I wanted. I don't know if it has anything to do with my interests. I think it has something to do with I really want to play, and I want to play well, and I want to be my best. And also that, I really realize I'm extremely fortunate and extremely blessed. I'm 23 years old, traveling the world. It just doesn't happen. It just happens to a handful of players.

Q. Do you feel much more comfortable on grass than you do on clay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. The grass definitely has a shorter point and less of a chance for my opponent. I think with the clay courts, if someone has less skill, then they have more of a chance to do better on that surface. But for me, I feel I have a very good chance on any surface.

Q. Sorry to ask you, but could you possibly enlighten us at all on newspaper reports about a possible stalker?

VENUS WILLIAMS: First thing, I just do not read the newspapers. I don't even look at the headlines or the pictures. I haven't seen anything this week. Keeps my mind clear from any nonsense and gossip and hearsay, what have you. So I don't really know anything about that. My agent called me last night about something, but I was quite tired by then, it was 10 or 11 after that doubles match. I don't think I heard it all.

Q. You're not aware of a stalker at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really.

Q. What are you going to do on your day off?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely rest. I really have been working hard the last two weeks, just before the tournament and at this tournament. I really have to make sure I stay healthy.

Q. No sight-seeing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I wish. I'd love to hit a few museums, but that's not what I'm here for.

Q. Do you keep in touch with the design business on a daily basis or do you talk to Bonnie?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't called this week. I've been meaning to. I'm at the point now where I really don't have to call every day. If I go in the office, there isn't really a lot for me to do any more. I just whittle my fingers when I'm there. Now I'm at the point where I just kind of do a review and a monitoring, looking at the design projects; and when I'm at home, contributing to design projects as far as the design. But now it's kind of I don't have to really do very much because it's being done. So that's nice. But I want to call today (smiling).

Q. How is this fourth round match-up different to the French, other than the surface?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a lot different. Definitely the circumstances are a lot different. It's nice for her to have the win at the French Open. Obviously, it wasn't nice for me. Even if I had won that match, I don't see where I would have been able to do very much at the French, to be honest. I tried to do what I could do, but I just wasn't ready.

Q. How much better prepared are you now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely better prepared. But, you know, every match is different, and I'm still going to have to play my best tennis no matter who it is or what surface.

Q. What's the explanation and the message behind the fact that the top prize money leaders amongst women have earned more this year than the top prize money amongst men, which is Juan Carlos Ferrero?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't even know because I didn't know that fact at all. I don't look at all of that. I guess I look at the results more or less, my results. I don't look at the ranking points at all or the prize money or anything.

Q. Is there room in tennis for a week-in and week-out atmosphere like Fed Cup, where instead of these very respectful, rather quiet crowds, you have a more rowdy crowd that's more like what you see in other sports? Do you think that would help you guys as entertainers? What are your thoughts on that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really don't think so because people who like tennis will like tennis whether it's rowdy or not. Also I think there's a certain feeling when it's quiet - especially on an important point, you hear the ball going back and forth. That's really enjoyable to hear. But I think people like tennis because they like tennis.

Q. Clearly the crowds are getting a little more rowdy, you're starting to see some people applaud double-faults and such. Can you talk about when you see that happening, how you feel?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't give it much thought on the court, especially if I won the match. I move right on. But obviously in tennis it's considered rude to applaud double-faults.

Q. Is there certain edge when you play a player who has beaten you last time...

VENUS WILLIAMS: Is there a certain?

Q. Is there an edge, a more sense of occasion perhaps than normal?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Could be, could be. But I wasn't even really upset with myself at the French Open, to be honest. I didn't even consider what she had done. I made like 70 unforced errors. I don't think I'll do that on the next round. That was definitely the death of me. I wasn't really upset. I definitely gave it my all, did what I could do, had a fairly decent showing, I guess.

Q. She said this morning that she's going to go into this match with a decent amount of confidence. She understands it's a different surface, but she feels like she can play with you nonetheless. Talk about her game, her strengths and weaknesses, all of that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she has a solid, all-around game, just does everything pretty well.

Q. Is she just kind of a basic, average player to you, or do you think she's really someone to look out for?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Look out for as far as?

Q. She's ranked No. 16 now. Maybe someone who can come into the Top 10, make a real impact.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely, it could happen. I haven't seen her play enough to like really understand what she could be. Definitely not analyzing that every day. But it's really all up to any player to maximize on their full potential. Anyone could be in the Top 10 or No. 1 or win Grand Slams; you just have to do it.

Q. So you weren't necessarily overwhelmed by her shot-making in Paris; you feel it was pretty much you making errors?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. It was very hard for me at the French Open. I really wasn't prepared. It was just a real fight against myself. I think she definitely, maybe towards the end, ran down a few balls, and I made even more errors. But it was good for me also, the way she stuck in there, even when she was down. She definitely displayed some good qualities out there at the French.

Q. How much do you notice the real rush of young Russian players coming in in the locker room, draw sheet? How much does that get into your consciousness?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really in the consciousness, but I do realize there are a lot of players here I don't even know just coming through. So I have to get familiar with them all. After a while, even learn how to pronounce some of their names, especially the ones with the consonants together, like the girl in the first round. I couldn't pronounce her name. But they're very good. They're very good players. They're very eager. That's nice to see. It reminds me when I first came on tour, I was ready to, you know, the world was ahead of me.

Q. There's a feeling, some of them have said it's a good way, not to get out, but things aren't so easy where they're from. It's a good way to sort of make something of yourself. Is that something you can relate to? Does that make sense to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely makes sense to me. I don't think I can relate to where they come from, for sure. I don't think I could come to understand unless maybe they explained it to me. But just for anyone, any young person coming up in the world, unless your parents finance you and hold your hand all the way, it's pretty rough.

Q. There's been another report which you may not have seen where your father was quoted in the New York Times saying he can't wait for you and Serena to get out of the game. Do you know what he may have meant by that?


Q. Are you aware of the comments?


Q. Are you looking forward to a day when you aren't playing tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No (laughter).

Q. A year ago I asked you how you rewarded yourself for a good day on court. You said you would have to come back for an answer when I thought of one. Have you got one yet?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I don't really award myself. The win is award enough.

End of FastScripts….

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