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August 17, 2004

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. Were you in some sort of a hurry, somewhere to go?

VENUS WILLIAMS: (Smiling). No, no. It was just a good day for me, that's for sure.

Q. Can you just talk about Zina Garrison's impact on the game and maybe what you've been able to learn from her during this experience?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I can talk about her impact on me. First of all, I think she's a wonderful person. And, you know, I guess I've known her since I was very small. I think her knowledge of the game I've really benefitted from, especially this week it seems. I've truly just been doing everything she, including Lori, have told me to do, and it's just come out so well. I still have a lot to learn, though. Especially I think in doubles, too. I'm a singles player unfortunately. I'm all about a big serve and a big return (smiling), and, you know, forcing the issue. So I have a whole lot to learn when it comes to doubles also, which I hope to learn a whole lot from both of them.

Q. Was the disappointment from last night, losing in the first round, in your mind?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm still in shock. I'm not used to losing - especially in a first round. It's pretty tough. I think that really affected the way I played today. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I usually let it go. It bothered me a whole lot. But that's sport. Someone else will go ahead and the best team will win. Unfortunately yesterday we weren't the best team.

Q. Is that different to play Grand Slam or Olympic Games for you? What is the difference?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose the Olympic Games is more imperative for me at this point. The fact that it's once every four years, I don't think all tennis players really appreciate it. I think the players who are in sports where you always get to play big majors, they don't appreciate it as much, you know, like maybe basketball players or, you know, the like. But for me, it's extremely important. So I want to play better and better each round.

Q. Speaking of playing better, was there anything you didn't like about your effort today? It seemed almost flawless.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Is there anything I didn't like? Uhm... I think, yeah, I think I liked it all (laughing). No, I just want to build on that. Obviously, playing like that just builds my confidence even much more for the oncoming rounds. Just puts an extra boost in my step and makes me feel even more positive and helps me move on from yesterday. So, yeah.

Q. It's the first time, in a men's or women's singles match since tennis returned to the Olympics that the score was Love and Love. When you're ahead by that much, is there a part of you thinking, "I'm going to finish this off Love and Love"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. Not really because tennis is a game where it's -- you know, it could go on. It could never be over. You could be at 5-Love and there's a chance that your opponent can come back. So it's really all about improving on the level you're on, keep moving it up, and at least stay where you're at. So for me it wasn't about 0-0. It was about keeping my level up, not letting it drop, not letting her get back into the match.

Q. Is that concentration tougher when there's not a lot of competition out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it was that. I think I have a lot of pace. I think I was moving forward and she was unable to handle that with her style of game. I like her game. She mixes it up. She has the spins and she has the slice and she serves and volleys and she has a good serve. But fortunately today I was combatting it all and probably frustrating her, so... But, you know, other than that, I think she has a very good game. She's coming off an injury. So there's a few factors there. But I think, you know, my game was good.

Q. You said you met Zina when you were younger. How old were you? What was the context of that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was about 9 or 10. But, I mean, when I was 9 or 10, I didn't know what was going on. So I was like... I think it's much more significant now that I'm older.

Q. Has she been the bridge between, say, Althea Gibson till now? Was it Zina Garrison, would you say, in terms of bringing more African American women into tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my God. All the tough questions. I think that anything that, you know, a minority does in sports makes a difference. So, obviously, it's nice to see different kinds of people participating. It's kind of like how you want to see the whole world be. So in that way, yes, it makes a huge difference.

Q. All the other tennis players have talked about how Venus leads the way when it comes to pin collecting.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Who said that (laughing)?

Q. Mardy Fish. The Bryan brothers.


Q. They're trying to catch up.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't tell them what I get. And when I do get pins - not all of them, but some of them, they're like sharks. They come and they take the pins that I get because I'm smart enough to get more than one of each country so I can trade them off. But then if I get four, I have to give all of them one. So it's like I've got to stay away from them when I'm trading but... Yeah, it's so much fun for me.

Q. Your most prized one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know yet. I just got a good one, though, USA with rings. Thank you. We traded for an interview (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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