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June 19, 2019

Venus Williams

Birmingham, England

V. WILLIAMS/A. Sasnovich

6-3, 6-4

Q. As to your match today, this being your preparation for Wimbledon, how are you feeling and how much more do you feel you are going to have to do to sharpen up before Wimbledon starts?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I though today was a really strong start, actually. A pretty cool match. Not a lot of errors and my opponent played really, really well. So I know that I'm going to have to play well from hereon out and just to be able to play some patches and, you know, and get my feet on the grass is a really good feeling.

Q. In the area that you are in, not far down the road, we have an inner city area and I'm going to say to you probably pretty much like young people that have that dream like you had, and Serena had, when you were growing. Just please give me something that I could either take back, or just share with those children from the inner city to have that dream of getting like that step further forward?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the first part is having a dream and then work for it and don't be afraid. And to believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who are about something, so you can encourage them, they can encourage each other, and that's part of the success is having great people around you.

Because anyone who has done anything has never done it alone, so you don't have to do it a loan, but you do have to be around good influences.

Q. You played with Harriet Dart at the start of the week. She is one of our up-and-coming hopes for the future in Great Britain. What advice did you give to her, what did you say to her during the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We had a blast. She is clearly very passionate about the game and is putting the work in and, as a young person, it takes time to figure out your game, figure out your strengths, figure out how to play against these players with more experience.

So she's got plenty of time to figure it out and to continue to grow and she definitely showed flashes of brilliance out there in the doubles (smiling).

And, you know, it was a lot of fun. I wish we could have had a little more time to get used to playing with each other and I thought we had a great showing and you know almost won against -- did we play the No. 1 seeds? Yeah, I think we played the No. 1 seeds. So that was a great performance from us and with Serena's permission may be we will play together again (laughing).

Q. When you face an opponent you have never played before, like Sasnovich today, I was wondering whether you like to do some scouting ahead of the tournament, or whether you like to go out there, play your game and figure it out as you go along?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have seen her play a little bit before, not a lot. And I never saw her hit that hard. So today she really just came full steam ahead and it is challenging. I haven't played a match in a few weeks and to play against an opponent you have never played before and on a new surface and I don't think anyone has not got that much time on the grass.

So you kind of come out, like, okay, I don't know what is going to happen today, I hope it's okay. So I was pleased to have played a pretty clean match and she really went for every shot and when they were landing some of them were just untouchable, so I had to be focussed every single moment in that match and so it was a great start and a great challenge.

Q. Venus, it's 50 years since Birmingham's Ann Jones won Wimbledon. Perfect timing for you to make your debut in a tournament here in this city.
VENUS WILLIAMS: 50 years since the start of this tournament, right?

Q. 50 years since Ann Jones won Wimbledon.
THE MODERATOR: Ann Jones is from Birmingham.

VENUS WILLIAMS: She looks so young. I had no idea.

Q. She was very young when she won it.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought she was about 50. She's looking good.

Q. The perfect timing for you to make your first appearance here in her home city.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know. It's a great anniversary and that's amazing, I had no idea, so she's probably still hitting the ball well for all I know (laughing).

But it's my first time and I have not played a lot historically before Wimbledon, so this is very new for me and very exciting. And it's not often I get to play in a new city in front of a new crowd, so this is pretty exhilarating actually and when you get a wildcard you hope to do something with it (laughing), so today I am like, "I'd love to win this match and make some good use out of this entry."

Q. You play so few warmup matches before Wimbledon on grass, so why did you choose Birmingham and also what was your reaction to the crowd's response to you? They seemed very warm and appreciative?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we had a great response and even in the doubles, you know, a lot of people stayed even though it was late and a little chilly, so that was heart-warming and I think not everyone gets a chance to come to Birmingham because it's tough after the French Open and people live in different parts of the world and it is not always easy to get here.

So I think that everyone here is grateful to see this line-up and see all the strong players here this week and I hope that this tournament will continue to get this strong field in the future.

Q. You have just turned 39 this week.

Q. You were giving what 14, 15 years of age to your opponent today and yet you seemed to make no problem at all of that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, honestly age is just a number and, as long as you are fit and doing the work, anything is possible. Honestly, it is just about wearing your sunscreen so that way you don't look like a raisin. I put mine on (smiling).

Q. You seemed genuinely taken aback by the warmth of the reception from the kids afterwards getting your autograph?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, honestly, yes. It is exciting to see young people excited about tennis so that makes me excited. Since I have been here, since Sunday, seeing a tonne of young people here and there really into the game and they are really into the players, so I love this sport. It's given so much to me and I like seeing young people having that opportunity to be able to grow from tennis, so it is exciting.

Q. Great to see you here. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Q. I was reading a bit about you and I understand you are a big fan of karaoke and I wondered if you could tell me what was your show-stopping song that you do and two, have you got a song that you would sing...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh my, No. 2 is pretty hard. I don't have one. But you have put me on the spot. But I was talking to my physio and she said, she read somewhere that singing creates these amazing endorphins and I said, "I can attest to that" (laughing). I don't have a karaoke song because I do a new song every time. So it's hit-and-miss and either I know I can sing that song, or I know never to do it again (laughing). So, I can always put my best foot forward.

Q. 'I Will Survive'?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's my mom's song. My mom is a great singer, actually. She has an amazing voice, a natural talent and I tend not to do Gloria Gaynor. Was that Gloria Gaynor? Yes, right, okay. I like that other -- does she do the other song, 'I Feel Love', is that the one? Donna Summer? That's not my era.

Q. It's mine.

Q. Can I ask you how do you balance your time between your tennis career and your outside interests like your interior design company?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, some days I have a lot of energy and some days I don't. But I have a great team and it's not always easy to be the leader. I do my best (smiling). They give a lot to me. I try to give as much as I can to them.

Q. Any lessons that you have learnt on the tennis court that you have taken into your business world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely and vice versa and I'm making mistakes all the time, but I learn from them. And you can't always see the mistakes, but I do evaluate everything that I do and think about, "Oh, I could have done this better." And that's on and off the court. And I try to be my best.

Q. Do you have a go-to designer that you really like interior-wise at the moment, like a chair designer...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Right now... It's always changing because there's always a new inspiration. What I love most of all are textiles, I absolutely love them, so that's my real love and, yeah, there we go.

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