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June 30, 2005

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus Williams.

Q. Can you think of any match in which you've ever played better than you played today? If so, which match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I played a lot of good matches in me I career. So at this moment in time, I haven't really had a chance to compare them. I can't say that I actually do, after matches, compare matches to others. I played some great matches in Wimbledon semifinals before, including 2003 when I got injured. This also was a good one. You know, I did have some errors. But I think the good play did balance that out.

Q. Obviously one more to go, but how satisfying was this for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it's very good, it really is. Really my whole goal for this tournament was just to play one round at a time and do the best that I could in each round. My play has just gotten better with each opponent, and my level has raised with however my opponent was playing. And, yeah, it's satisfying, but I've always felt that I can play at this level. I just gave myself the opportunity at this tournament to do it.

Q. It's one thing to feel like you can do it, and it's another thing, like today, where you're hitting every shot in the book, serving is great, backhand, forehand. Seemed like you were confident the whole time. You were in the literal zone. Did you feel that way?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure. It's just about going out there and doing it. I trained hard. I guess I can't quite explain it. I think you'd understand it better if you've been out there and done it before.

Q. How pumped up were you when you went out on the court? With you it's hard to tell. You always give us the same look on every point, poker face. How pumped up were you when you went out to play this match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Pumped up? When I get out there, I'm just trying to stay calm and even. That's my whole thing. For me the whole match is not over till it's over. So a lot of times, yeah, I get really excited or pump my fist. But today for me was just one point at a time, just sticking to my game and not getting off and losing focus of what I needed to do. So the end of the match, at that time was the arrival of getting pumped up.

Q. The French Open, Karatantcheva wasn't a high moment. How much of you playing well has to do with your health and really feeling physically fit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I was fairly healthy at the French, but I did have a shoulder problem from April that I couldn't really serve. So that really threw my game off. I just had a bad day. Obviously she was a good player, but she didn't throw anything at me that I hadn't seen before.

Q. How much of here is feeling better and being a hundred percent healthy, I assume?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, being healthy is very important because it gives you the opportunity to train. All last year I didn't really have the opportunity to prepare because I never was quite healthy. Probably made a lot of bad decisions to go out and play tournaments. It's the past now. But I have had the opportunity this year to gather strength and gather a rhythm and get the opportunity to train, even when I didn't play as well as I wanted to, at least I had the chance to go back and keep training. Whereas in the past, you know, 2004, I didn't really have that chance. I would even be in practice and say, "Okay, today I've got to work on serves first because I'm probably not going to last longer than an hour out here." Everyone has their trials and tribulations.

Q. A lot of ink has been spilled in the press about how the Williams sisters are distracted by outside interests. You showed today there was not enough distraction to stop you from playing great tennis. Is that any kind of distraction, the other things that you do?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I would say no because I put tennis first in my life. I wake up in the morning, go to practice, go to the gym, train, and give my best effort. The other things that I do are because it makes me happy. I think it complements my tennis and also makes me work harder because I realize it's not easy also in the real world. But I think my world also is as real as it gets.

Q. You mentioned on a TV interview after the match you heard from Serena and she sent you some emails with some pointers. What did she have to say?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Wouldn't you like to know (laughter)? She was very encouraging.

Q. Was there any point in the match where you divorced yourself from the score and enjoyed the great quality of the tennis out there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really today. In my last match, I didn't really know the score in the tiebreak. I knew when I needed to switch, but I didn't really know what the end score was when I finally won the match also. I just knew when I was down set point or when I had match point. But today, no, I did realize the score.

Q. What went through your mind on your first match point? Tough one.

VENUS WILLIAMS: The ball's bouncing tricky on this court. So a lot of times when you get there, the ball's low. I'm used to hitting the ball here, and when I got there, it was here (lower). So I just overhit a little bit. I needed to add some spin. It was just a technical thing that happened. I wasn't too stressed, but I wanted that point, obviously, and the weather was getting bad. I was trying not to focus on the weather, just on the tennis. I wanted that break. I wanted to win the match there. I got blessed, it happened.

Q. Toward the end of the first set, you could have put that first set away a little earlier than you did. When you didn't, I think there was a question of were you going to crack. Three points later you showed you were right back where you were when you started this match. How did you recover from that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's tennis. She played a good game. I was up 5-3. She played a good game. I didn't feel like I did anything too wrong. I came in. She hit a great passing shot. I think on the one breakpoint against me, I made an error. That was probably even a little forced. She hit a great shot. I just had to start from there. Even if I would have lost the first set, I would have started from there to go to the second and to the third. So for me I realize you make mistakes, sometimes you don't get it, but you just keep going. That's what it was.

Q. Was there any time over the last two years you doubted whether you'd play another Grand Slam final?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. No. There were times when I was -- sure I was disappointed in how I played because I knew I could play better. But all things in good time. Everyone has their moment in the sun. That's what my mom always says, "Everyone has their chance." And, obviously, at each tournament I feel like, sure, it was my chance. But everyone has a chance. Everyone gets to play well. Everyone gets to win sometimes. Even though I'd like it to be me every time, this is almost impossible.

Q. You looked really elated again after the match. Can you describe what was going through your mind? You doubled over in laughter.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, I mean, I wasn't in like a major tiebreak like in the last match. I really felt like, sure, I was fighting, but I felt like I was going to get the win for sure, because even though she was playing really well, she would have had to break me twice, which is kind of tough, especially on grass. I was really focused and really happy.

Q. But your thoughts after the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: After the match, yeah, I was like, "Okay, you can stop focusing now, have a little bit of fun." After the match, I always try to enjoy myself, whether it's a final or whether it's the first round. I always like to enjoy it.

Q. Can you speak for a second about Lindsay or Amélie in the final.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I played Lindsay in a couple Grand Slam finals. I guess Amélie is trying to make her first Wimbledon. I just got blessed that I finished my match. They'll be back tomorrow. I'm sure the best player will win.

Q. How do you see those matchups?

VENUS WILLIAMS: How do I see it? It's so close now. I guess Lindsay somewhat has the momentum.

Q. How do you see you matching up against either of them?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, fairly well. I think as long as I keep my eye on the ball, I really play well, as long as I do that.

Q. You're wearing a ring about as big as a skating rink. Are all those diamonds on there?


Q. What does RDK (sic) stand for? Is that design available in the UK as well as the USA?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's Reebok. I guess it's available in the UK and the USA.

Q. What fabric is it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Fabric? It's like a Lycra/spandex blend.

Q. She had beaten you in Zurich. She got you in Miami. When you walked out on court today, even when you were hitting, it seemed like you were very confident. You had the right plan to take her down. Talk a little bit about that.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, my game has been improving step by step. Those other matches that we played, yeah, she played well, but I felt like I didn't play my best. I knew that obviously it would be important for me to play a little bit better. But I just wanted to be relaxed out there more than anything.

Q. Was it a frustrating day for you with the rain? Were you distracted when the other match was switched to Court 1?

VENUS WILLIAMS: We weren't ready to go on court because the other players, they knew they would go on court. We didn't know right away that we would be switched. I was glad that we got to stay on Centre. It's a great court to play on. It's obviously where I wanted to have all my great moments in my career. But, no, I'm quite used to the rain. It is what it is.

Q. You said before it's hard unless you've experienced it to know what it feels like to be out there and be in that zone. Can you try to describe to us who have never done that clearly, what is it like? What does it feel like to be in complete control of a match where everything you're going for is going in, everything she's trying is not quite enough, you're the aggressor from the moment the match starts?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's important to start off pretty well. That always works. I think at the end it's about -- it doesn't matter who's across the net. I doesn't matter what they hit. It's all about you. It's about what you're going to do. It's about you focusing on what your plan is and doing the right thing, even if that means taking the L.

Q. If Lindsay puts this match away tomorrow for an all-American final, what memories will come flooding back from your first major victory in 2000?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, that was a good time. It really was. Now is also a good time, too. I don't know. It was a little while ago. I don't remember exactly.

Q. Will your dad be dancing on the mezzanine roof?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the people were afraid under there. I think he's still the same weight, so it should still hold up.

Q. Any point in the tournament when you sort of felt it was coming on, your form, and you really had your game under control?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's just practicing and practicing to do the right things. Just a couple things in my game that go off when I'm not playing well. Zina is always emailing me. "You play well." Of course, she keeps even distance, she's Fed Cup captain, but she always says, "Just play well," those kind of things. So I try to take encouragement from that. I was just trying to play better with each match. That was all. That was really it. Trying to go forward with each match. Even if I don't play as well as I wanted to, I tried to think about the positive things.

Q. How much of the way you're playing now do you think owes to the fact that Serena went out early and took a lot of heat?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it may not be relevant actually. Serena was under some circumstances that were tough.

Q. Is this win at Wimbledon more satisfying for you than five years ago because you now understand how painful losing is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just different. Each time is a blessing, for sure. It's important to do it the first time, to get the experience. It's important to do it the next time because you want to. I think each time, it's just as good.

Q. Have you spoken to Serena since you won?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Just a little bit. She called me and said, "Can I have your autograph?"

Q. What was the answer?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's how we're always joking, though. We're always joking like that. We're always doing this kind of thing back and forth. So when she leaves, it's definitely -- we still have fun, but it's not the same.

Q. You spoke about the shoulder injury a little bit. You served obviously great today, and the match before. How much of your confidence is based around your serve and how much easier does it make it just to impose your entire game plan when you're serving well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The serve is so important. It's where the game starts from, where you're dictating from. For me to be able to serve well is important because you don't work as hard. And, sure, you have to expect the ball's going to come back, but usually it's a little bit easier to start from a good serve.

Q. The email from Serena, was that encouragement or was there some tactical advice as well?

VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bit of everything. A little bit of everything. We always encourage each other. We always want to see each other do well and we motivate each other. I emailed her and said, "I just wanted to be like you."

Q. How soon after you got off the court did you actually get in touch with her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, as soon as I got off the court, they always say I have to get in here real fast. Do a cool-down, try and stretch, then race in here as quick as I can.

Q. A laptop or a hand-held?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She called me. She emailed me. Things like that.

Q. You're looking at becoming a three-time champion now. How much do you think of this as your place, your court?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think many people have had this place: Navratilova, Graf, Billie Jean King, all those people. It's just something that's rented, that's for sure. But for me it's just still one match at a time. Final, third round, whatever. Tournament's not over yet.

End of FastScripts….

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