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July 2, 2005

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for our Wimbledon winner, Venus Williams.

Q. What does it feel like to be a champion again?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I always felt like a champion in my heart 'cause every single time I walked out on the court, I always gave my best. Whatever it was at that time, I gave a hundred percent. I don't know. I mean, I feel great to have accomplished this, but I feel like I want to do a lot more. But it was a tough match, for sure.

Q. How will you summarize your game today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I really didn't feel like I was able to play my best. I didn't feel like I was able to get to that form I was in in the semifinals or the quarterfinals. But I just had to work with what I had today. I just spent so much time behind that the only time I think I was in front was when I won the match.

Q. You said earlier this week that you play best when your back is against the wall. You showed that this afternoon. Where does that come from? How do you do that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I think I got that from Serena. I really do. I always was trying to fight like her. She's such a fighter. I remember she played this match in Sydney ages ago. I think she was playing Lindsay. She was so far down really. She should have lost. But she just kept fighting. After that, I always wanted to be like her.

Q. Did you actually think of that match during the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. When you're out there, you don't have that much time to think. You just have to compose yourself, remember what you were taught. I don't even know what happened on that match point she had. I don't even remember now. But I guess somehow I stayed in there.

Q. When her shot went in the net, you began to jump, what was going through your mind and heart?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just was so excited. I can't help myself. When I get excited, I just show it all. The whole match, it was so tough. The first set, I got down two breaks. That second set, more breaks. Finally I made it happen. I was able just to last a little bit longer than her. It was just great. I was just so excited. You could see that.

Q. This match seemed to turn around when Venus took the balls to serve at 6-5 in the second set (sic). From that point on, looked like a completely different player than in the first set.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just wanted to hang in there. I didn't want to be off the court in one hour. I wanted it to be an hour 30, hour 40, something. I don't know what happened in that game. I think I got it, you know, four points in a row. I was just trying to keep my feet moving and my energy up, just trying to stay as positive as I could.

Q. You seemed to have drawn on an incredible amount of fortitude to win. Where did it come from?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My mom, my dad, my heritage, Serena. I don't know. I don't know what happened. I just didn't seem to be playing that well. She seemed to be playing very well. I guess at the 6-All point was really when I started to find some better parts of my game.

Q. Did you doubt yourself at any time that you would get to this point?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was trying really not to think about winning or losing. I was really focusing on trying to do the right thing, trying to play a good match. The whole time I wasn't thinking about it. The only time I thought about it surely was when I was up 30-Love at 8-7.

Q. Does this win have special meaning to you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think, for sure, it has special meaning. I was the 14th seed. I wasn't supposed to win. I guess whoever put a bet on me really came in good on that, at the beginning of the tournament. But I always bet on myself.

Q. Did the fact that your father said on national TV that tennis is not of A1 importance to you girls any more, did that have a conscious or subconscious effect for you to prove him wrong?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it's even about that. I don't think tennis should be important, the main thing in any tennis player's life. It's just like you all. You all write for a career, you love what you do, but there are so many more things that are important: your family, your beliefs, being a good person, all those things. Yeah, tennis is what I do. It's all consuming. But at the same time I have to realize this is just one part of my life, this is only one stage of my life, and I'll move on from this one day. To make sure I have everything in check and that I don't live and die with each win or loss. That's what we were taught.

Q. You seem far more talkative and open now than you did yesterday or previous day. Is it a sense of relief or the elation you feel?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I felt a lot of negativity all the time in here. That's not how I function. No matter how negative the situation, no matter what the situation is in my life, I always stay positive. I don't feed off that.

Q. Is that sometimes difficult to be positive in all circumstances?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I take a day or two to feel sorry for myself. But I always work harder each and every time.

Q. I don't know if there's any significance to this at all, but you didn't wear earrings this match or the last match. That's not like you. Was that a conscious effort?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, yeah, kind of, because my earrings always catch when I'm wiping my towel. The last match, it's like I really don't want to think about that, the earrings catching. It's easier to wipe without having to worry about if your earring is going to catch.

Q. The end of the match, when you jumped up and down, slumped to the grass. Were you just too tired to get up or were you letting it sink in?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I wasn't tired. I just was so excited. I could have jumped for a lot longer.

Q. We thought you were praying actually.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no. I actually (was?) maybe. I need to pray a lot more.

Q. Any idea how much that dress would have cost that you wore here in the UK?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no idea.

Q. Have you heard from Serena since the match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: She sent me a text. I've been fighting so hard and still doing my cool-down, all that extra stuff before I got in here. Once I leave here, I'll call everybody.

Q. Did you know you would win a fifth Grand Slam title? Were there ever any doubts in your mind over the past two years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no. I knew my destiny was to be in the winner's circle. There were times along the way where I didn't make it there. But I felt my destiny was definitely to win big titles, win lots of titles.

Q. Can you compare your feeling after this win, that type of elation, versus the first time when you were younger, ran up in the stands? How was that celebration different from this one?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the difference was that last time I knew I was going to win. This time, I'm not saying that I didn't know, but I didn't put that in my head. I didn't think about winning or losing, I just thought about playing the match until the end of the match.

Q. There was a point in the third set where you seemed to pull up a bit like you must have caught something in your leg. Did you hurt something there?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all.

Q. Were you a little frustrated at the beginning? You played a high level the last two matches. First set, you didn't seem to be playing your game. How did you turn it around?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think this match had more stress for me. Even the other matches, I was just flowing. This match was a little more because I was just trying not to think too much, which is for me a problem - I always think sometimes too much. I was disappointed not to get the best out of my game after playing so well always. My dad always says, "Sometimes you have to win when you're not playing your best."

Q. Lindsay said there were a couple of times in the match she was aware that something special was going on, the level of tennis. Were you aware of that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I was not thinking about that. I was just thinking about, "I've got to stay tougher. I've got to stay tougher than whoever's across the net. I have to play the ball. I have to stay tougher." My mom always says, "You have to stay tough. You have to stay in there. Hold serve. Don't let them last longer than you." My mom always says this kind of stuff, and so I was thinking about all this stuff my mom always said. I was not thinking about anything else.

Q. When Lindsay had the one match point, you hit an unbelievable backhand. Can you describe your feelings at that moment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just a tough moment for both of us, for sure. She was trying to get the victory that she was so close to the whole match. For me, I'm trying to stay in there and do the right thing. Even that last shot, I think it was just a tad bit over the net. I kind of even hit across it. I just kind of hit it all wrong, but it just went in. Maybe it was just the effort that kept it in.

Q. To whom you dedicate this trophy?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No dedications yet.

Q. Did your stomach bother you in any way during these championships at all, tug on you at any time?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm doing work on it every other day, like deep tissue, just to keep everything at bay. I know when I play a lot, I start to get symptoms. But even when I did feel like a little something, I never told like my trainer or my mom because they all freak out. "Oh, no, you don't need to play." So I always keep it to myself. "Oh, let's work on the stomach today." No, I never had any issues.

Q. What do you think this latest experience of yours at Wimbledon will teach you as a tennis player and a person?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was listening a little bit to Billie Jean King the other day when it rained. She said to enjoy the moment. That's what I try to do out on the court, was just enjoy it, say that this is a great competition, this is a game, compete, compete your best and have fun with it. That's what I tried to do. I can't say I did that the whole time, or maybe not any of the time. But that's what I tried to think of it as. I don't know what I'll take from it. It's definitely a lot harder losing than winning. I would say, even though I feel elated and excited, all those things, when you lose, it's so much more tougher, there's so much more feeling.

Q. Do you remember a match where you played the crucial points better than today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe the match before. Maybe the match before that. A lot of matches. That's what it's all about, is stepping up on the big points, for your opponent to know in their head that you are going to step up. It just makes it that much tougher for them to know they're going to play against someone who's going to compete well when it counts.

Q. In Russia, our people want to know, what do you think about Lindsay? Are you friends? Is it possible you will be celebrating this victory together?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure about Lindsay, she's probably going to be thinking about what she could have done. I probably would. Probably not thinking about it at all. We play together next week. I'm sure we'll be a good team against Russia. But if I wasn't out there playing, and if it wasn't Serena, I definitely would have rooted for Lindsay to get this title.

Q. Winning this title really puts you in great stead for the rest of the summer and going into the US Open. Can you talk about how you feel about your US Open chances?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I remember Zina kept saying that I would have a great summer. She's always been so encouraging. She hasn't sent any emails or messages because I think, you know, I was playing Lindsay, so she was on even ground because we're both from the USA. It was good for her, whoever won. She really helped me just throughout everything. When I didn't win a match maybe I should have won, she was just always so positive, always went back and worked harder.

THE MODERATOR: One thing left to do. If I could ask Larry King --


THE MODERATOR: If I could ask Larry Scott to come in.

LARRY SCOTT: We have a little presentation to make. We didn't want to let The Championships conclude without recognizing that this is the last Wimbledon ladies singles final for Alan Mills as referee. On behalf of all of his friends at the Tour, players and tournaments, over the years, we have a very special presentation, which is an engraved salver by all of the Wimbledon singles champions since he began his refereeing in 1982, and appropriately presented by this year's Wimbledon ladies champion, Venus Williams.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I'll say a few words about my memories with Alan. I remember the first year I played in '97. That's the year it rained until Saturday. I didn't play my first round till that day. I remember I wanted to play mixed doubles. There was a lady by the name of Janet Newberry, explayer, also worked at the WTA. I said, "Who should I play with?" She said, "You should ask Alan Mills to give you a wildcard. He's a nice guy." He gave me that wildcard. Didn't win it that year. But, you know, you've been a great, great legend at Wimbledon. Everyone knows your name. Congratulations. (Applause.)

ALAN MILLS: Well, this is very unexpected. Thank you, Larry, Venus. I mean, it was a great final to go out on, you must admit that. Probably one of the best finals that I've seen here from the women. Congratulations, Venus. Yes, I had 23 years of ladies singles finals, ladies doubles finals, mixed doubles and all that. Lots of problems that go with it, but... Having said all that, it's been a great pleasure to be involved with the WTA Tour, the women's tour. Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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