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June 21, 2004

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. Did you feel like you were racing the weather a little bit there at the end?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was really tricky because sometimes it was clear, sometimes there was a cloud. Even before the rain started, they covered the courts. But I've learned that I can't rush it or else I start making mistakes.

Q. Is there a little awareness that the drops are falling there in the last game, a point or two from victory?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Exactly, a little bit. But, you know, I felt comfortable at that point, and it was fairly close to being closed out, so I was ready.

Q. 11 unforced errors. Looked like a very clean performance. How did you feel about it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was good actually. I was looking at these stats and seeing what the errors were going to be. I would have liked to always have a little less, but it was a good game for me.

Q. How do you feel this year compared to 12 months ago?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That was such a long time ago. I have to go back, back, back. I guess good. I mean, I suppose I can compare my form to last year in the early rounds around this time, yes.

Q. You won six of your seven points at the net, which begs the question: Why don't you come to the net more often?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, you could see I was on my way. But I hit a lot of winners, so... By the time it was time to hit a volley, I had already hit a winner, what have you.

Q. Martina Navratilova was in here talking about it's kind of hard to make that commitment to go to the net, you have to convince yourself in your mind that it's a good idea. Can you talk us through, is there some talking you do in your head to get yourself up there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think what I do is I have to have a game plan going in and stick to it. But I think I was just somewhat raised as a baseliner, an aggressive player, of course, all-court game. The baseline is pretty much where I like to be. But I definitely understand the net game a little bit more, the last two months.

Q. How much has Billie Jean helped with that? Is she still pushing you to do that more?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Right, right. Really positive atmosphere at Fed Cup when I had the chance to be under -- be I guess her little pupil, along with Zina. They both have perfect volleys. When Serena and I are passing down the halls, we look at the old pictures of everyone playing. We're like, "See how she 's looking at the ball? Look how the racquet's out in front. Why aren't you do that kind of thing?" So we were just looking at Billie's picture the other day, Serena was commenting, "She's an expert on volleys." We've learned a lot from her.

Q. Did you see any of Martina's match today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe one or two points. I was getting ready for my match.

Q. What was your reaction to that score?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Congratulations, really. I think it takes a while to get back in the swing of singles, especially, you know, if you've been out so many years, as she has. So, obviously, she's doing something right.

Q. Does it reflect badly on the women's tour for a 47-year-old woman, even though it is Martina Navratilova, to win a match as easily as that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it reflects well on Martina. She's in wonderful shape. She understands the game probably more than ever at this point.

Q. When you watch her playing and see the way she plays and goes to the net, is it tempting for you to want to do it that way yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. I like my game. I like how I play. I don't know. I think you have to mix it up. If you're constantly coming to the net, someone's going to know, "She's coming to the net." If you can play from the baseline and then come in, this is trickier to me.

Q. Being back at Wimbledon, especially after that difficult final last year, was it a nice feeling? What kind of feeling did it give you stepping out on the grounds?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always happy to be back. It's so nice. I know I can play as fast as I want to. Possibly I play even faster here. I don't even have to go for as much placement on my serve. I just hit it. I just have a lot of fun on this surface.

Q. And the reaction of the crowd at the end? They gave you a generous round of applause.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I know. That was nice. And then I kind of missed a shot. I think I had a breakpoint against me. There was a collective sigh. I was like, "Wait a minute, what's going on here?" I'm used to people being very nice, but not so nice like that. I did have a chance to enjoy that moment.

Q. What were the best tips in your notes today that you were reading courtside?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I only had about five tips today. Just stay focused. It's so important.

Q. Was that a new outfit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's a new outfit. It's kind of more reminiscent of evening wear than tennis wear.

Q. Is that something you designed?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It's definitely Diane von Furstenberg.

Q. Comfortable?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's really comfortable, really fun, really elegant. I love the hem line. It's definitely what's going on this summer. I guess I'm just in fashion.

Q. About the fans, do you think maybe your last 12 months with your injury problems, you're seen as a bit more human?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I don't know. I always hope that people saw me as human. Obviously, a steely competitor, that's very important to me. But, yeah, I even struggled all year long. I've twisted both ankles. I've had a lower leg strain where I had to pull out of a few events. I've hardly played in an event healthy or prepared. It's been very difficult. I keep teasing my physio. "If I laugh too hard, I might get injured."

Q. How is your health, your ankle, stomach?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, my stomach's fine. Hopefully a ghost, history. My ankles, obviously I have to tape them. Don't really like to, but I tape them because I'm a bit fragile now in that area.

Q. Any lingering pain from Roland Garros?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Since that time, I've like turned it a couple more times. And I don't know why, I think once you do it once or twice, you lose a little bit of stability. So once I can just kind of not twist it the next couple of months, I should get everything back to normal.

Q. Which ankle is it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Mostly the left these days.

Q. And the wrist?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What about the wrist?

Q. The wrist is okay?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, thank you (smiling).

Q. Is it difficult not to go easy on the ankle, knowing it's a bit fragile?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've noticed that my feet on this surface, especially the return, I haven't been moving as quickly as I've wanted to. With the grass, you can kind of get stuck a little bit. I think subconsciously I'm thinking about that, but it hasn't stopped me.

End of FastScripts….

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