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September 4, 2004

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You sounded very emotional on court, talking about this win. Feeling over the injuries?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not necessarily about over the injuries, but, I mean, I'm just now starting to get healthy. But it's more about, you know, the decisions that I've made this year. A lot of times I played injured and played when I wasn't prepared to play, so I put myself in situations where I was in a comprising position, where I wasn't in a position to play well, win matches or be very forceful. And that hurt my game a lot. It put me back. And I really truly believe that I could be a lot further now if I would have just stayed home, gotten better, no matter how long it took, then came out when I was ready. So today was really the first day that I started to feel like a lot more like I did before all the injuries and what have you. Even the first two rounds, I hadn't felt like that. So it was good. This was a very good match for me. I'm glad that she came out and played me so hard; I needed that.

Q. Those times when you shouldn't have played, did that include both the French and the Olympics?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know I had to play the Olympics, come on, whether I was well or not... But definitely the French. I mean, two weeks before the event, I had terrible, terrible ankle sprain. I really wasn't prepared. I was not fit. It's a terrible thing. I mean, I'm, you know, former No. 1, Grand Slam champion, I'm Venus Williams. People come out there and they start to think they can win because I'm not on top. I mean, they know that I'm not on top. If I'm playing my best, if I'm playing well, normally I'm going to be in the winner's circle. So I need to give myself the opportunity to prepare and, you know, starting to feel good.

Q. But with the wrist injury in LA...


Q. You said you had to play the Olympics.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Because it's the Olympics, yes.

Q. You're saying you still did not play 100 percent?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. I mean, Mary Pierce is a great player, but I just feel like normally I'd win that match. It's just the injuries have really, really -- they just hurt my results. Of course I had to play the Olympics, yeah.

Q. So in the first two rounds you said you felt the wrist. You said you didn't feel yourself the first two matches. What was that feeling?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, my wrist is feeling fine. It's just about just the whole combination of playing well, mentally being there, having your game there. And, yeah, okay, I'm still missing a few shots, but even when I'm at my best, I miss a few shots and I go for broke. And it's starting to get back there. Today was good. I mean, she played unbelievable. She really did. And, you know, I felt even in that second set, it just probably should have been more like 6-0, because I gave away some games. But that was okay because I was starting to flow... flowing.

Q. You're very likely going to have to completely flow in the next round, because Lindsay is on a huge roll and she's won like 21 matches in a row.


Q. This match tonight, did you feel like you can get to the level where you need to be to be able to challenge her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, that was a very good preparation for me today. I'm looking forward to the match. I feel like I'm returning a lot better. Even in that second-round match when the girl hit 115, I was returning better when the ball was faster. So I just feel like I'm returning a lot better than what I was in the summer. My game's better. I'm moving better. I'm not rushing as much. I'm starting to play well.

Q. Tracy Austin has been on more than one occasion, when she's done your matches, she's sort of criticized the coaching, saying you need possibly a coach to work with your forehand, said maybe your parents aren't, you know, have never played professionally, whatever. Is that a strange criticism? After all, you know, your parents did to get you to this level.

VENUS WILLIAMS: There will always be opinions. That's all I have to say.

Q. There had been a lot of talk over the last year or so that the aura of the Williams sisters, who were dominant for so long, had an advantage when they stepped on court against some opponents who were afraid to play or didn't think they would have a chance. It sounds though, tonight, a little bit like what you're saying is in your own mind, you didn't feel like you were where you could be, and now maybe you're starting to get some of that feeling back.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was not prepared at events, basically is what I'm trying to say. I was not prepared, but I came anyway. And I was better off to skip those events. The truth of the matter is that in the past year, both myself and Serena, we have not been healthy. When you look at the players playing, they're trying to play like us, they're trying to do what we do. You know, they're trying to see what we do and what we'll come up with next. If we're healthy, and we're going toe-to-toe, it's going to be a good match no matter who we're playing.

Q. Naomi Campbell was here to support you tonight. Are you going to be hanging out tomorrow with her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: (Laughing). I got to practice tomorrow. I think I've got a book signing. But I think I'm going to go to Serena's match, too. It won't be a night match again. I think she's going to come to that. She's really a great person. She's nice.

Q. Last Grand Slam of the year. How big is this match coming up for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously, it's a big match. But in the grand scheme of things, it is a match, and it's a match that, you know, I'll need to win to get to the quarterfinals. That's how I see it. I feel like I'm on the move. I feel like I'm starting to be more prepared for my matches.

End of FastScripts….

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