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July 5, 2003

Venus Williams


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

Q. What was behind your decision to actually go ahead and play today? Obviously, you were in pain and had this injury to deal with.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess, first, you know, there's always the "what if" in the back of your head. And, second, it's just hard these days. Serena and I have taken a lot of slack, so I felt to take one for the team.

Q. What do you mean by that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it hasn't been easy. Serena and I, we've been blamed for a lot of things that never even happened. I felt today to play.

Q. Meaning people have accused you of leaving matches too soon? Is it a criticism for defaulting?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I think everyone's quite familiar with the history. So today, today was a good effort. And I wanted to play. I mean, I had to at least show up and go out on the court. So that was definitely a decision on my own.

Q. How tough was it, Venus? How tough was that to play?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess, you know, it's tough enough to go into the Wimbledon final because you know you have to play your best tennis to win. It's a little tougher also, not really sure how much you can do, how far -- how much I could do, I wasn't sure how far I could go. You know, that just sums it up.

Q. If it wasn't the Wimbledon final, would you have defaulted?

VENUS WILLIAMS: If it wasn't the Wimbledon final, chances of me playing probably would have went down.

Q. Were you advised at all by Kerry or any of your trainers or whatever not to play and you decided to override that? Did they kind of say, "It's really up to you, you can't injure yourself more"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was definitely up to me. No one took away that decision at all. No one made any suggestions or put any pressure, because then it gets to be even more confusing.

Q. Serena said you played the best, in her opinion, in this tournament. Is that a new level of tennis we're going to see ahead of this tournament?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I really felt that I was playing pretty good, and definitely playing those big points well. I was on a roll. Then, you know, things took a turn. But it's okay. It really is.

Q. You've had this injury now for several weeks. The only way really to get rid of it is to rest. What are your plans after this?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really haven't thought that far in advance. I don't know what I'm gonna do, except, of course, take care of myself and rehab. But I'd like to be rid of this pretty soon. I don't really want to be at the next tournament or at the next US Open and having to deal with more of this.

Q. Could you describe the pain that you were feeling and how it affected your play.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, basically it was just a domino effect. Once I started not using certain parts of my body, then other parts started to go down. So I started injuring more areas. And I couldn't run too fast, I couldn't stretch out too much. I was hitting serves in the net because it's harder to reach up. So just affects the whole game. But, you know, Serena played real well.

Q. Was it like a pain or discomfort or just on certain moments?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Like a pain, yeah.

Q. All the time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, like a pain (laughing).

Q. Stabbing pain or just on certain movements?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, sharp pain.

Q. You looked clearly in discomfort between the points, but then you guys had some 14 -, 15-stroke rallies where you were just running back, side to side to side to side. How do you explain how you were able to do that, and what did you learn about yourself today in getting through this?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I could move a lot, but I think especially at my height, I have to be very quick on my toes and I have to be ready to change directions. And in order for me to get my body weight going in different directions, I have to be very low. So all that, all those little things were kind of taken away from me. So normally on those long points where I can just get into them every point, if I have to, sometimes I wasn't doing that. And then there were the points where I were, and I was just so far behind the baseline (laughing).

Q. Serena was saying yesterday it's hard when someone you care about is hurting. How tough do you think it was for her out there today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I wasn't really thinking about that. I had a lot to concentrate on on my own side. You know, I never talked about what was going on.

Q. You said you took one for the team, in that you and Serena have been blamed for a lot of things. We know about the booing and hissing in Paris. What other things have you been blamed for?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, it just goes from one thing to another, so we just roll with it. That's the way it is when -- from what I've been told, you know, and what I've experienced, that's the way it is at the top. It's one thing after another. And it's not just me, it's -- I mean, if you look at the movie stars and you look at the cover of People, every time you look around, they're making something else up. So this is the way it is. And sometimes it's almost funny. A lot of times it is funny, actually.

Q. BBC was saying in a way you were being, oh, almost punished for your success. People were looking for excuses to get on your case, so to speak. Do you think that's accurate?

VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as...?

Q. Just your place at the very top of the game, the way you've dominated for this period of time, that people are looking for a way to sort of get at you or to bring you a peg down lower.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Could be. Could be.

Q. How important was it that Serena was telling you during the break in the Clijsters match, "Get out there, fight, you can do this"? Am I right about what she was saying? That's the impression I have.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's always the first thing, is it was not worth it, but in some ways it is worth it. I'm just here to compete and do my best, and that's really what I do at the end of the day.

Q. Did you consider calling for the trainer earlier than the moment that you did call for the trainer? Perhaps in the second set?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. No, I thought that maybe -- maybe she could give me a magic pill, but it wasn't there (smiling).

Q. Was there ever a point where you thought, "I'm not gonna be able to complete this match"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I wanted to complete the match once I stepped out on court, yeah.

Q. Do you leave here more discouraged about your health or encouraged about your rising game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing well. I think it's discouraging that I'm gonna have to take weeks off and kind of start from scratch again, you know, with fitness. When you take weeks off, you get off, especially on my serve. I have to work very hard. But, you know, I've been blessed in my whole life and, you know, I feel encouraged that I'm able to play well and lift my game.

Q. Are you up for that right now, the rehab and starting all over again?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. I have to be.

Q. The injury keeps getting discussed, but you got back to 5-4 there in the second set. You played well in the first set. Down 5-1, you fought pretty hard to get back to 5-4. Were you thinking then you had a real chance to close it in two sets?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was just trying to put more pace on my balls, maybe to produce more errors or what have you. Put more spin on it, do something quick. And I made some mistakes at 4-5, like three or four down-the-lines, forehands down the line, I guess didn't hit them right.

Q. It looked like even despite the injury at that point in the match you had some belief you could possibly pull it out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, but I wasn't gonna kill myself. I wasn't get -- you know, I'm already in a hole. I'm not gonna dig the hole a lot deeper.

Q. Why did you call the trainer at that point? Did you hurt yourself in the game a little bit more?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, at the beginning of the second set I was starting to go downhill.

Q. The stomach and the leg or any number of things? Was it everything?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, from the very beginning, the leg. The stomach, I was feeling okay with my stomach until the second set. Then I was just, you know... I was playing all right, though.

Q. Was it a hamstring?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it was more or less a groin.

Q. When you went off court with the trainer, did you get rewrapped with the tape?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Tighter. She did it tighter.

Q. Is it like wrapped all the way around, like a corset?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a few wraps going on (laughter). Tapings.

Q. It was impressive the way you pulled off the semifinals despite the injury. What do you account for this new level of motivation and standard?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What was accounted?

Q. Yeah, what was the motivation and what inspired you to raise your game and improve on everything? What is your target?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand.

Q. You want to be the best player, obviously. But were there any other things that motivated you to work this hard on your game and then to get out of the semifinals despite your injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, I want to be the best player that I can be. And I've been at the top of the tennis rankings, and still feel that I'm at the top, doing well. A lot of times it's a lot easier on the day that you injure yourself to keep playing, considering it's tougher after, after the day or after the fact, to recover. I mean, I knew what I was in for. Here I am.

Q. Serena was saying you showed that you were even tougher than she thought. Did you prove anything to yourself or did you know you could handle the situation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Did I prove anything to myself?

Q. Yeah, about yourself. Did you learn anything about yourself? She said she learned a lot about you.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I better think about it then. I'll ask her what she learned about me that I didn't learn.

Q. Do you think now that Serena will do the shopping now that you can take a rest? Do you think you can persuade her to go out and do the shopping for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Shopping? Oh, the grocery shopping. No (laughter).

Q. The injury occurred first in Warsaw. Did it ever disappear?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the injury occurred first in Warsaw, and it was hard to pinpoint because I think so many muscles had spasmed that no one was really sure where it was or which muscle it was or why. And I calmed down a lot. I calmed down a lot. Toward the French Open, I was okay. It was on and off. I had good days and bad days, basically.

Q. But you never considered taking a break?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I did, I took --

Q. I mean a long break, a longer one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I took about two and a half weeks off before the French Open, hence my bad game there. Maybe I should have played.

Q. Where do you think you stand, it's only two weeks away from the Fed Cup, you've taken two weeks off as you said before?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Are there two weeks? One week.

Q. One week. Do you think you can be ready for that? Will you probably need to rest?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess theoretically there are two weeks until the tie.

Q. Right.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Until the weekend.

Q. Right.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. I haven't given it much thought until she asked me about it the other day. I love the Fed Cup. I'd love to be there. But it's definitely gonna be a stretch.

Q. When do you think you have to let Billie know?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's here. I saw her today. So I'll probably talk to her, if I can find her.

Q. Is this the strangest of the finals that you guys have played because of the injury? Does it feel different? Was it really just like the other few that you guys have played together, Grand Slams?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Each final is different. All the circumstances are always different. Sometimes you come in the better player, sometimes you know you're not playing as good as the next one. Obviously, this wasn't much different because of the circumstances, but, still, it was a good final.

Q. You said the other day that you were taught at an early age not to play with pain. Could you recall when, how you were told that? Was it your father, other people telling you not to play?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, my mom and dad. They never let us play in pain.

Q. What's the reasoning behind it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because, first, you shouldn't learn to do those kinds of things, you just end up, I think, in a deeper hole than before. Second, is because they didn't want us to think that the game was so important that you have to be in pain to play.

Q. What is it like going out to play a match you know you're almost certainly not going to be able to win?

VENUS WILLIAMS: (Laughing) whoa...

Q. Because of the injury.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I look in the sky and I hope to see an angel (laughter). I don't know, I just knew I had to give it a shot. I couldn't look back 10 years from now and say, "What if?" Basically, that was a lot of my motivation behind it. I knew I had to at least walk out on the court.

Q. You said that you felt like you had to take one for the team and go out there because of all the history. If you'd been playing someone else other than your sister, do you think maybe you would have said, "I can't play"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure, I think I would have felt a lot less pressure, but predominantly I don't let anyone's ideas or influence, influence me at all. But...

Q. You felt pressure to play?


Q. Because it was your sister?


Q. Because of everything that had happened?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so, yeah.

Q. If there were two young sisters, perhaps talented athletes, would you suggest they took up two different sports?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. Serena and I have had a great time on tour, definitely. I've got the built-in doubles partner, the built-in hitting partner, the built-in motivator. If I don't bring my brush, she has hers. Vice versa. It's a good thing, definitely.

Q. When you see each other in the morning and she says, "How are you feeling?" Do you not give her the full report because she's a competitor?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what the exact thinking was on that. I left earlier than she did today. I knew I needed more time to prepare than she did.

Q. Is the feeling different after this defeat at Serena's hands because of the injury than the other ones in Grand Slams?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's still not very good... It's still the same. I still feel, "What if I had put more balls in?" It definitely feels different.

Q. After you'd beaten Petrova and Zvonareva, there were a lot of people who thought you were playing the best tennis in the tournament. Do you feel somehow cheated because of this injury?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, it was -- it was the thing I dreaded happening the most at this tournament, and it was something that I knew could happen because I wasn't 100 percent. But I didn't expect it, actually. But I knew that these things could -- this is life, this is how it is sometimes.

End of FastScripts….

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