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March 27, 2004

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question for Venus Williams, please.

Q. Is it good to get a tougher match like this as your first match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she was a very good player. She played definitely at a different rhythm than most players; she played very flat and very low. Her serve was a lot slower and lower than what I'm used to. Coupled with the wind, it was different out there. I felt more than anything I served well. I'd love to be more consistent and, of course, just play always a lot better.

Q. Looked like she had you running at the beginning. She was the aggressor.

VENUS WILLIAMS: She hit some good shots; she really did. I think that I had some points where we both were moving so it was nice.

Q. What was that like, that Spadea-Safin match? You probably thought you might be going on after the second set.


Q. Then it goes to a tiebreak. You're back to waiting. Can you just talk about, what is that like when you're probably itching to go and get your match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was ready. Then I went, refueled and got ready again. It was nice, because at this kind of tournament you know it can't go three-out-of-five. That's the end of it. So there's some comfort in that. But they had a good match. I actually enjoyed it.

Q. You watched some?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I watched some of it.

Q. How much did you know about your opponent before?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Before, I just had no idea who she was. Apparently, she's made quite a rise in the last year. I was kind of out most of last year. I missed -- I see a lot of new faces that I didn't know before. So I'm catching up, too.

Q. How are you feeling physically?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel good. Just taking one day at a time and always make sure that I'm careful that I say my prayers.

Q. What was the biggest problem, you had some problems with your abdomen or stomach?


Q. Could you talk about that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That was the biggest problem, but I'd like to think it's behind me. When I'm out there, I am not thinking about my stomach injuries or my pulls or my strains. So that's good. Because earlier in the year, that was an issue, having to play and also thinking about what I had been through in the past. But now that's not even on my mind. It's a hurdle to get over, but it was good.

Q. How did you feel mentally out there today? Did you feel like you were in it from the beginning?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always felt confident. I always felt like I was going to win the match, but I did feel a little bit inconsistent. That's definitely what I'm going to work on in my next match. But sometimes it happens if you don't always play a lot of matches.

Q. At times during the match you seemed a little, like, distracted. Was there anything else going on outside of the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't feel distracted.

Q. Because of the weather yesterday, there's a certain situation where every match on Stadium Court today has a player who's won a Grand Slam, been No. 1. Does that -- clearly, that's great for the audience, but does that sort of spill over to you guys, too, when you're just all a part of just this kind of all-star lineup?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know (laughing). I never thought of it that way, to be honest. But I'm very happy to be out on court. I love this court and I love this tournament. I felt support out there today, so that was nice.

Q. You still have an interior design company?


Q. How involved are you in that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: As much as I can. But definitely my main task is the tennis, so that's where I spend most of my time, is on the tennis court. But...

Q. With the interior design company, do you actually design people's homes? Do you have clients?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I pretty much leave it to the designers because they're professional and they're experienced. They know what's happening. Sometimes, of course, I have ideas, but I definitely like to let them do their best at what they do.

Q. Have you finished the room for Serena, and, if so, what was her reaction to it?


Q. Weren't you doing her room.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was doing a project for her. It's not done yet, so we'll talk about it after (smiling).

Q. You've got a few matches under your belt now.


Q. Where do you feel like your game is right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel good, just keep advancing. Definitely, just stay in the tournaments and not, you know, acquire another injury. That's the problem so far, is the injuries. So what I'm trying to do is stay healthy. And as long as I can stay healthy, I can practice, and as long as I practice, I can win matches.

Q. You were away for a while. You've had a few matches. Do you feel like there's still things you're sort of noticing like, "Oh, yeah, I remember what this looks like," or do you feel like you're in a groove?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely feel I can get better, but I've always felt like that, even when I was playing my best. So I think as a professional athlete and as a competitor, that's just the attitude I have all the time. I'm always trying to get better. I never stop.

Q. How tired are you of people asking if tennis is your No. 1 focus?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's quite strange. I never let on that impression. You go off and get injured, and people start to think that maybe you aren't interested. The truth of the matter is I was injured.

Q. Did you have to make any adjustments with Zjeng, the way she was playing sort of starting out, in order to kind of turn it? What did you have to do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I had a slow start, I thought. But I think today my serve really helped me to win the match. I did miss some easy shots, but I think I just maybe rushed a little bit so I tried to correct that. And she was really compact and low to the ground. I noticed the longer we got in the rallies, the lower she kept hitting the ball, and the lower it got the tougher it was for me to raise it up and hit an effective shot. When I hit a slower ball, she did her best to try to attack it. It was an interesting game. I enjoyed it. I was just competing the whole time. I felt confident I would win the match.

Q. In the second set it seemed like you had put her away early on and then she fought back. Did you let up or did she just make big shots?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She's definitely a fighter, that's for sure. You could see that. She's had apparently a really good rise. But I also think I did make some errors there, especially for a couple of games from 4-1 to 4-3 I made a few errors. But I think what I wanted to do was try and go for more and whenever I get up, I do try to go for more and just keep playing better and raising it up to the next level. But it kind of backfired and I missed a few more, so I'll try not to do that (laughing).

Q. Not having played that much, or having had a long break, did it make you hungrier at all? How did it affect your mind frame?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just, you know, I feel like the same person, the same player. I just think it will only be a matter of time before I get the same results. That time could be this week also, is how I feel.

Q. Do you try not to look at the ranking? For some people, they'd kill for 17. For you, it seems low.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't even know it was 17. I thought I was outside of the Top 20. When they said that, I was like, "Yes!" In comparison, I played -- I have about five tournaments in my record. It's a pretty good ranking for that number of tournaments. So it's not so bad. Even when I first started out, I really, really paid attention to the rankings. I was counting points. But after a while, it was more or less my performance in the tournament and getting, hopefully, a victory in the tournament, not what the ranking was all about.

Q. Also, do you like when your family is here, watching you? What's that like?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I can hear them out there when I'm on the court. I can hear them, "Come on, come on," even if I miss a shot or feel bad about the mistake or even slightly embarrassed about a silly error, I feel my family out there rooting me on. So that's nice.

Q. Tommy Haas was saying the hardest part for him in getting back from his injury is he keeps comparing himself now to that player that he was before he was injured and it's hard, because he feels like he's not measuring up as quickly as he'd like. Can you relate to that at all? Have you had some of the same feelings?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose we have a little bit of a different mind frame. I feel like the same player, and I just maybe have a disposition, but I feel like still the best player. So that's just how I think. I think that's how I was taught to think, right, mom (laughter)? Hey, that's how I am. But I definitely think the whole thing for me is to be consistent.

Q. Have you been able to give Serena any advice about coming back, since you got a little bit of a head start on her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. We always encourage each other, but not anything in particular, no.

Q. What is your -- what are your plans, as far as tournaments go after this one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm going to play in Charleston, the Family Circle Cup, then I'm going to play Fed Cup, then Warsaw and Berlin and the French Open.

Q. Do you feel you could win the whole thing, this whole thing? Or do you just take it one match at a time, see how it goes? Do you aim to try to win the whole thing? Can you do that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's a good question because I'm really interested in winning the whole thing, and that's always where I set my goal. I really would just like to win, to sum it up. But if I can, I will have to definitely improve on my game today.

Q. You won here before. Was that very memorable? Do you have good memories?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I love winning. Yes, it was very memorable. It's been a few years now since I've won this event. But Serena's won the last couple years so someone can mix her name up with mine and never know the difference because I get called Serena all the time; it's fine with me (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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