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July 3, 2003

Venus Williams


MODERATOR: Can we have your questions, please, for Venus Williams.

Q.. How is your injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How is it, I don't know. I'm just... I'm doing okay, I guess. Good enough.

Q.. To what extent was it affecting you out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I definitely could feel pain out there, especially in that first set. I think really I just panicked. I just didn't know if I could play, if I was going to be able to hit, and I couldn't calm myself down. I think that, more than anything, than the injury, lost me the first set. I mean more than playing bad, more than maybe the pain, that I just couldn't calm down about it.

Q.. Were you surprised that you couldn't calm down? I don't even know if you've ever been in a situation like that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know, because I just knew from the first time that I pulled it, like a few weeks ago that -- how I couldn't play, and I didn't know -- I just didn't know, I couldn't calm down, basically. So finally the rain came and took my mom and four sisters to get me to calm down.

Q.. What did they say to help you pull yourself together? What did you tell yourself too, then?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just -- basically, I had to accept that it happened to me. I think that's what it was. I didn't really want to accept that this was happening again. I didn't want to accept that I was probably going to have to play with pain. There was a lot of things -- I was pretty much in denial, I think. I just couldn't get through it, that set. My mom, Serena helped. Serena talked to me in the locker room. The trainers helped me calm down some. So I was able to get my head straight at least.

Q.. I'd like to talk to you about your lovely outfit, which I found very refreshing change and much more feminine than usual. Can you tell me, it has the flavor of the '50s about it. Do you find it at all restricting when you swing the racquet? Do you find the fuller skirt gets in the way of the swing of the racquet at all? That's the first thing.

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. I was a little concerned actually in the first match because it was so flowy. But I just kind of flick it out the way in between the points.

Q.. Your racquet has never touched it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It may have, I don't know. It's really so much fun to wear that dress, though.

Q.. Do you have several dresses like that, or are they all the same type?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Several dresses...? I have like six or seven with me.

Q.. And they're all the same with the lattice work at the back, etc.


Q.. Is it your own design?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's half my own design. I wasn't the whole catalyst behind it.

Q.. Can we buy it somewhere?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm just not sure where, especially here in England.

Q.. It's got your name in it?


Q.. Were you feeling the injury before that point at all, or everything was fine?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Which point?

Q.. Where you kind of pulled yourself on it in the first set, or had you come into the match feeling it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't come into the match feeling anything. I was really just playing normal. Kim played some good games, but they all were very close. I was normal, ready to play. And, you know, once that happened, that became a factor. Not only was I trying to beat Kim, but I was trying to... It was just a tough match at that point.

Q.. With all the experience that you have facing your sister in finals, how has your approach evolved? How is it different today than it was for previous matches?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How is it different? Oh, I don't know. I have no idea. It's still a Wimbledon final, so there's a lot at stake for our careers, at least. But I'd like to think at least I'm a better player by now.

Q.. But she's won the last four times that you've met in this situation.


Q.. How has your approach changed during those matches and how might it be different for Saturday?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the times that I was -- I mean, all four of those times, it was at least close. It wasn't a total blowout. I know that at times I made mistakes at the wrong time. Basically, she just played better than me. Sometimes you have to concede that.

Q.. What was it that your family members said to you that helped you sort of regroup?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My mom said, you know, just -- what did she say? She said, "If you're gonna play, play. If you not gonna play, you know, pull out. If you gonna hurt it more, don't play. You've already been fighting with this a long time." My other sisters were there chiming in. I was trying to take it all in (laughing).

Q.. Did you consider pulling out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I couldn't. Not at this point. I had to play it out at least, whether I -- whatever happened, I was gonna play it out.

Q.. Do you have any concern you might be less than 100 percent for Saturday at this stage?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. If I'm less than 100 percent, I'll still be out there. But I don't think my strain is as worse -- as bad as the first time.

Q.. Have you been advised to rest tomorrow and not practice or just go about what would be your normal strategy for a pre-final?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I probably won't hit until late in the afternoon, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't hit at all. I think if I'm gonna play, I have to prepare in the same way. I probably won't hit as many serves, no overheads, probably not extreme, high-intensity level, but I'll still hit.

Q.. Have you ever played a major match like this with as much pain?

VENUS WILLIAMS: As a rule, I never play with pain. I generally retire immediately. I've never been taught to play with pain. My parents always told us to put the racquet in the bag, go off the court. I just felt this time -- I just wanted to win, basically.

Q.. What do you think about your performance of getting through this match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, Kim was playing so well, returning so many balls - you know, hitting lots of great shots and getting lots of balls back and playing generally very well. So I felt very good about getting through the match.

Q.. I guess I was thinking more in terms of the inner drive, the courage to keep going. What do you think of yourself for doing that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was -- I just kept telling myself, "Venus, do what you doing in practice. If you win, lose, draw, fall off, fall down, whatever, just do what I was taught to do." Really, that was what was in my mind. I was still down a second set and just made sure I stayed calm and didn't get, you know, upset about the situation, that I couldn't play with full force. And then after a while I decided, you know, "If I'm gonna be out here, I'm gonna still serve big." At times I did serve slower than what I usually do, but I really wanted to just do everything I could do at that point.

Q.. At what time did you get the impression, "I can actually win here"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I never thought I could lose (laughing). I never -- I never had that in my mind frame. Obviously, I realized that I was playing a very good player, very talented, and that if I didn't play better, that would be the ultimate.

But I didn't really think that.

Q.. You said this time you just really wanted to win so you kept going. Tomorrow -- Saturday, do you feel that same kind of fire, that it's different from maybe other times that you really want to win?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I say what was the difference between this match and any other matches, I really wanted to win. I never retired out of a Grand Slam match and I just felt I couldn't do it. Obviously, if I got to the point where I really just was feeling really just horrible, awful and awful, I would hang up the racquet. I'm no fool. But I felt that I could try. I'm really just glad that the third set didn't go any further. I was really blessed that I was able to get those games quickly.

Q.. Are you going to need more will than usual in the final then because you are going to be injured?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it doesn't stop me from running, that's good the thing. I can still run. I can still hit the ground strokes pretty fairly well, at least at this point.

Q.. Considering the injury, do you think that was actually your best performance of the year so far?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. I've had some good matches here at this tournament, and I'm telling you, each one counts. If I didn't win that third round, I wouldn't be in the semifinals. If I didn't win that semifinal, I wouldn't be in the final. All my matches, I've been quite happy with how I've played.

Q.. Your sister said that you're playing the best tennis of the tournament so far. To have such an endorsement from the person you'll be playing in the final, what does that mean to you?


Q.. To have such an endorsement of the person you'll be playing in the final...

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd like to think I was playing best, too. But in the end, it doesn't matter about the whole tournament or what happened behind. It's about performing at that moment and playing better than that - whoever you're playing against at that moment and rising to the occasion. So that's really what it will take.

Q.. Do you think Serena is going to have a hard time separating on Saturday playing her opponent who might have an injury she could exploit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so (smiling).

Q.. How come?

VENUS WILLIAMS: This is the Wimbledon final. If I'm lame and injured, that's not her problem, really.

Q.. She's just gonna go after you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Better for her.

Q.. Is she just gonna go after you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. If I'm playing an opponent that's injured... Really, I don't see my opponent across the net. I just see the ball. I can't control what they're doing on their side; I can only control what I'm doing on my side. So that's really how I see it. If they're injured, I hope it doesn't become something horrible, but there's nothing I can do about it. That's probably how she feels.

Q.. Can you describe the pain a little bit and when it hurt the most. Was it on the serves? A sharp thing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, on the serve, just the reaching up and then just on the ground strokes when you're , oh...

Q.. It's every time you hit the ball?

VENUS WILLIAMS: After a while, I mean, you start to block it out. But especially once I started a service game again, and then once the return games, I would have a chance to like recover until the next service game.

Q.. So during the rain delay they just wrapped you up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Iced and they looked at me all over and saw, you know, if I was compensating somewhere else. Just helped me out. They wrapped me real tight. I think that helped.

Q.. What did the trainer do on the court, actually? Did she give you some pain-free drugs or anything?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no drugs, no. (Inaudible.)

Q.. What did she do on the court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What did I do?

Q.. What did she do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, I got a tape job, but it wasn't as comprehensive as after the rain delay, because obviously there's more time. And some advice, she told me to breathe deeply and try to calm down and all that. Didn't work immediately, but it still helped.

Q.. Taped you here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, in the stomach area.

Q.. How does your level of confidence, when you play Serena, compare with when you play everybody else?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my level of confidence just depends on how well I'm playing and how much I've been training before the tournament, too. I really never -- really concerned with who's across the net. I'm only concerned if I know that I'm messing up badly. Then I'm concerned with that, because I know I have to fight against myself in the match much more than what's necessary. So maybe through all the matches I played, the only thing that may worry me, is if I know I'm not playing well.

Q.. Was your stomach bothering you at all through this tournament, or really it just hit you today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: On and off. You know, I had like good days then bad days. I mean, not really bad, but just on and off.

Q.. Some of the men's players like Ferrero have said it's hard to get rid of a stomach strain. It can come back and haunt you at times.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's what I found out (laughing).

Q.. What can you do to try to address it? Have the doctors told you a way to avoid it in some way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I kind of feel like I should be through this by now, personally. But that's not the way life always is, huh? But I have to start looking at other areas, seeing if maybe my back is tight or if there's other reasons why I haven't been able to get better as much as, you know, why I'm not pain-free at this point.

End of FastScripts….

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