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June 28, 2005

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for Venus Williams.

Q. What emotions did you experience at the end of that match? You seemed to be showing a little bit more than you sometimes do.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a tough tiebreak, it really was. It was a tough second set. I played really well in the first set. I think she played well, too, but maybe she just wasn't expecting me to play as well as I did. I had quite a few set points against me. To pull that out and not have to go to the third is really good. And, plus, she was playing unbelievable. I mean that could have been a finals match, how well she played.

Q. What are your thoughts on facing Sharapova?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think this was definitely a good match for me going into that match because they're both two hard-hitters. And I think that was good preparation.

Q. Can you describe Maria's game as you've seen it and what the challenge is for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She definitely strikes the ball well, is a very determined player. Just a good player all around.

Q. Are you playing a little better each subsequent match? Did you question that 14th seeding at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, like I said, I was okay with the seeding from the get-go. What was the other part of your question?

Q. Have you raised your game as each match has gone by?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. I definitely raised my game. I think in the first week I didn't get to hit a lot of balls also, and that was a good thing. I'm just looking forward to raising my game in this next round.

Q. You've had a tough couple of years after a decent period of success. Why the change now? Can you put your finger on why you're playing much better?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always playing well, to be quite honest. I lost a lot of points in the clay court season. I couldn't go to some tournaments to defend points, so I fell out of the Top 10 because of that, too. Then I didn't play that great at the French. This is really my normal ranking.

Q. This was your second quarterfinal in a couple of years. Must have been a bit of a dip till these championships. Is that fair to say?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always playing well.

Q. You looked very happy at the end of the match. It was a special reason?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a tough tiebreak. I was hitting like a lot of great shots and hard shots. I wasn't just moon-balling the ball over. She was hitting some winners out of nowhere. She just really had picked up the level of her game. And after facing five set points or what have you, that was just a great win.

Q. When was the last time you were that sort of overjoyed in a match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably yesterday in the mixed doubles match (laughter). I was very happy then. I actually think playing the mixed is good for me because I got to hit a lot of returns. We had a really tough match yesterday, so I felt like I just kept it going from there because we had such a fight. But today I was ready for that. So I think it was definitely a blessing.

Q. What have you learned about yourself in the last 10 days and your game?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think too much that I didn't already know.

Q. There was a question earlier about you raising your level in every round. Given how tough this match was, is there still more in the tank?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, for sure.

Q. You don't think you gave everything out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Huh-uh. Why do you say that?

Q. Given how tough the match was this afternoon.

VENUS WILLIAMS: The thing is, I'm a professional tennis player, so I'm ready to play however many rounds a tournament is. This is pretty normal for me.

Q. Your dad says he feels you'll be world No. 1 again and he feels you'll also win Wimbledon this year. Do you go along with that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Everything all in good time. I have a couple matches left and I'm not looking ahead. It's pretty tough to be No. 1. I never was one to play a million events, too. So we'll see.

Q. Can you talk about your approach to serving? Today you served very consistently, but you weren't going for the corners like you do at times. Is that something you're going to bring into Sharapova? Why are you serving a little more conservatively? Do you want to just play yourself into points?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think my serves were that conservative. I definitely went for a lot of Ts today. I felt that was a good one today. And a lot of it just depends on where your opponent positions himself in their returning. A lot of that will tell you where you need to serve. So today I just felt it was what I needed to do.

Q. And how confident are you in your serve now compared to a couple months ago?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I actually had like a shoulder problem after Fed Cup. Once I got to the French Open, I hadn't hit my serve a lot, and I just couldn't. Just hadn't had enough practice. I couldn't get it in. Since that time I've been okay. I'm really practicing. For me it's just all about being in sync and in rhythm. So I kind of remind myself if I'm missing a few just to stay in sync.

Q. How does your routine at a tournament change when Serena isn't around?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How does it change? I guess less nonsense (laughter). It's not the same, that's for sure. But most of the time we always are together.

Q. Getting back to your dad, he was interviewed on BBC today, and he said he didn't think tennis was the most important thing in your and Serena's lives. What is your reaction to that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Tennis is pretty much up there for me.

Q. It is the most important thing still? You disagree with that comment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Pretty much up there.

Q. What about fitness? You look very fit and very fast. Do you think you are at the top of your condition or not?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just really blessed to be as tall as I am and be able to move. I don't know how that happened. That's a good blessing. I'm always working hard. I always work hard. I can't do anything else. But it's my personality, so that's why I'm fit.

Q. Of all the times since you last won Wimbledon, are you at your healthiest right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure, or else I wouldn't have played the mixed doubles. I couldn't have played any doubles at the Australian at all. It's really hard on my stomach. I can't serve that much. Even now I'm monitoring how much I do. I can't play too many matches or else I kind of break down.

Q. And how much is your confidence a result of your physical condition right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think condition is extremely important because the last thing you need out there in a match is to have to choose which ball you're going to run for because you're tired, you're tired and can't concentrate on the point because you can't breathe, or your legs burn. That is no way to be. So it's definitely an important factor because it's something else that you don't have to think about out there.

Q. The stomach injury you had, the serious one, that just won't heal? Every time you play it gets worse? You took time off. Will it ever heal?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm fine, but I can't play a lot. I can't play two and three matches or like so many matches in a row. It's kind of tough for me.

Q. Muscle gets tired, is that what happens?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess that's what it is. I've tried telling myself, too, that it doesn't hurt. And sometimes that works, but not always.

Q. Given that that's happened to you, do you sometimes think back and regret you played the 2003 final, let alone the third set of that semifinal when you tore it and really?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I had to do it, definitely, because I would have never wanted to look back and say, "Maybe I could have." And I came quite close actually. And I'm okay with the decision.

Q. Your dad today in the TV interview also suggested he took you and your sister off to see a hamburger salesman who used to be a tennis player. Can you shed some light on that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know that story.

Q. Any reason he came up with that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.

Q. Is this quite normal? Does he tend to imagine things?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just said I don't know the story. It may have happened. I don't know.

Q. I think he meant recently.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember.

Q. Other than this week, you said that you were very happy yesterday. But before this tournament, when have you last been this happy as you were when you were walking off the court today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always happy. I have a good life.

Q. You had a really big smile. You really seemed, to us...

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think if the second set score would have been 6-3, it would have been a little bit different. But that was a very tough tiebreak because she didn't give me an inch. So I had to kind of take whatever I could. Obviously, she was doing the same thing on her side of the net. I think that was -- I think the whole part of it, that was just a very tough match.

Q. Apart from the chance to play in another Wimbledon final, how much added incentive is it for you to get a crack at the defending champion?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Never entered my mind, to be honest, never. I feel like I deserve to be in the semifinal. Just take it from here.

Q. So when you walk into a tournament, you never look a little bit at the girl who's got the title and think, "That's what I want, I'd like to get a chance to beat her"?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all.

Q. Were you insulted by your seeding? Do you think it was justified?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's the talk of the fortnight, huh? Like I said, I was okay with it. Whoever I go out on the court against, I feel like there's a very good chance that I'm going to win as long as I play well.

Q. At this point in your career, what motivates you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: What motivates me is in the morning if I don't go to practice, I start to get very nervous because I know if I don't go to practice, I'm not going to play well. So when I don't show up, I think me I dad gets a little bit upset. Whenever I do come over, he's happy to see me, so he doesn't say anything.

Q. How often does that happen?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm like a zombie. I can't wake up in the morning. But I hate to go to bed at night. And I need at least eight hours of sleep. Sometimes I just don't get up. I just watch the Golden Girls. But most of the time I do get up. But there are some days when I take it slow.

Q. You said you've been playing well, you've always been playing well. But your results from the beginning of last year through the first half of this year didn't really mirror what you were doing in 2002 and 2003. Is most of that injury or is some of that just not quite being in sync, not quite being in rhythm?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it takes a lot to be your best every time. A lot of players usually come out against me playing quite well, swinging. Really it's just all about doing it every time. I suppose every time I wasn't able to always.

Q. Was part of that knowing that you had to improve because everyone was coming out swinging and that the field was improving week in, week out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely feel the field has improved a lot. But I also know when I play my best that, you know, I feel like I'm still a step ahead, for sure.

Q. You said tennis was still up there for you. Is that the same for Serena as well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Don't ask me anything for Serena, please. She has to answer that.

Q. What is your most vivid memory of Serena's final against Maria Sharapova here last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that was Serena's third tournament after her surgery, and that was an unbelievable achievement to be in the final. Also she was off the whole tournament, too. It's tough to come back and play at that same level without playing a few events. And she really had a major achievement to get to that final. She just didn't play well. Maria did play very well, and it takes a lot to win a Wimbledon final. But Serena wasn't able to put up a lot of resistance that day. I think if she could have played 10, 15% better, I think it probably would have been a different story. But that's the past.

Q. How do you think Sharapova is playing this year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm sure she's playing well. You have to play well to be in a Wimbledon semifinal.

Q. Is aggression or great defense going to be the key against Sharapova?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a combination of everything, against any player. I think I have both of those because I run a lot of balls down. When I get to them, I'm usually able to put a lot on them, too. And, to be honest, anyone's who's winning the big matches, they step up and play aggressively, so... A little bit of both.

Q. You mentioned playing your best, when you're playing you best you can compete to anybody. How close to that peak are you at right now, in your opinion?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I've played my best like once or two matches in my whole career. It's hard to get there, to that level. Sometimes when you play your best, you get a little too confident, overconfident, and that's not good either.

Q. You just feel you can make any shot, when you get too confident, anything you hit will be a winner?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think sometimes you get too confident. Sometimes you underestimate your opponent. You kind of go down. So I try to -- of course, I'm always feeling confident, but at the same time it's important to stay focused, be in there.

Q. Where would you say you were today compared to those two or three times you were at your best?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm just competing well today. We had some long rallies and some tough shots. She just kept raising the level of her game. Obviously, her results count for how well she's playing. So I just kept returning the shots back. I just started to get very used to being in those long rallies.

Q. What are your strongest memories of winning the title here for the first time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I remember I won the first set. Well, I remember I won the semifinal, and I was going back in the car. I said, "Wow, I'm going to win this." I just knew it. That was my whole plan before the tournament, that I had to win. I knew I was going to do it. I just remember I was serving for 5-4 in the second, and I lost. I was like, "Oh, no, Venus, you can't do it like this." But somehow I guess I won and stayed in there. I don't remember everything play-by-play. Each year is different. Each year takes a little something different.

End of FastScripts….

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