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September 2, 2005

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. You seemed excited right after the match. Was there any pressure? Serena did her part, you had to do your part to get in there.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no. I've played a lot of tough matches in my lifetime. I don't think the pressure of this match was anything that was majorly on my mind. I don't know. I just like -- it's easy just to do an interview and talk about, you know, "Oh, my backhand a little off, I need some extra spin." It's more fun to just, you know, kind of talk to people.

Q. Is Serena the kind of player who would seek revenge for a loss that's particularly hard to take, even to her older sister?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Did you get a chance to ask her that one?

Q. I didn't.

VENUS WILLIAMS: If I say yes, then that means I'm saying she's vengeful. If I say no, I don't know. I don't know. I really don't know. I can't say.

Q. You seemed to get everybody pretty excited for the match on Sunday. Deep down, are you really that excited about it or is it still pretty awkward?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Deep down I'm disappointed not being able to be ranked higher. I feel I've had a fairly decent year. It would be nice to be higher in the rankings, but it just seems like I can't keep up, play the kind of the matches the girls ahead of me are playing. You know, I just wish I could be ranked higher and Serena and I could both be ranked higher. We both had a Grand Slam this year. It's not so bad. But we'll try and work on our rankings this fall.

Q. Are you saying maybe the Grand Slams should go to seedings not necessarily based on rankings like they do at Wimbledon?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just saying that I'm happy and blessed to be playing. God keeps blessing me, I'm going to keep moving with it. That's all.

Q. You're also saying you wish you were ranked higher?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm saying, yeah, I wish I was ranked higher. I wanted to come into this tournament ranked in the top eight. I tried to do it this summer, I couldn't do it. Obviously, some players were able to get out there and play more than I was able to. It is what it is.

Q. How do you think Serena's playing now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's playing good. I think the day it doesn't matter how Serena is playing because her competitive spirit is so high, you have to go to the ends of the earth to beat her.

Q. Was that your best match since Wimbledon?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think I played some good matches in Stanford. Obviously, it was the only tournament I got to play. But I'm I was feeling real comfortable in Stanford. I think today was definitely my best match. I got used to the wind. Maybe the next match the wind will be gone, but I finally got used to it. You know, it was nice also I guess to play a player that I have played before, too. I think that helped out.

Q. How important is it to hold off the six breakpoints in the first service game today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was definitely an important game of the match. I'm not saying there would have been a momentum shift. Obviously, she would have broken back. For me it was a good hold because I was able to consolidate my break.

Q. Three things you did really well tonight: serve, forehand and volleying. How important is that going to be against Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They're all going to be important. I think every single point will be. I think more than anything I'll just have to be able to compete better. When you're playing Serena Williams, you have to compete better than her. I mean, I got a lot of tricks from Serena just watching her. She inspired me so many times. I also got motivated by her in the early part of my career, and even now. Yeah, so, I just have to compete better, bottom line.

Q. When you play her or when you play her on Sunday, are you going to kind of go out there and feel out how she's playing before you decide whether or not you're going to be going for your shots, playing a little more defense?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, championships are not won waiting back to see what happens. You put it on the line. You go out there and play aggressively and stick to your game. Really that's what happens. You don't see any champ, besides maybe at the French Open, but even those players, they come in at the right times, they attack, they move forward. Yeah, you don't get back just getting lucky and waiting to see and playing defense. I'll be aggressive.

Q. You won many matches in your career playing great defense when you haven't been hitting the way you wanted to.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's how we were taught. We were always taught to play aggressively on the defense. That's my dad's brain child, not necessarily mine. Used to get so upset when we would slice on the run, things like that. Definitely my dad, I give credit to him for our defensive games.

Q. When you beat Serena at Key Biscayne, how much of an emotional victory was that for you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously she had won a lot of matches in the Grand Slam finals. I would have liked to take at least one. I was close on some, but it just wasn't to be. Just as far as for my career, against a player, it was good to get that win.

Q. As far as having lost to her so many times in a row prior to that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Man, that was in March. I don't even know if I can remember, to be honest, exactly how I was feeling at that time. Obviously, I wanted to win the match. I wanted to move forward and try to take the title and all those things. Serena's definitely a huge roadblocker because she's such a great player. With all those factors in the equation, obviously it was a great win. I was feeling fantastic about it at the time.

Q. Do you feel like you maybe have the edge now? You beat her there, then won Wimbledon. Do you think you have the edge right now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's always nice to go into a match thinking you have the edge. Even if I don't have the edge, I'll have to try to tell myself that I do.

Q. She said on television when you were doing the tour together she didn't want you to catch up to her. She had seven slams, you had five, which means she needed to win another one. Is she kind of joking around or do you feel like she's really serious that she doesn't want you to catch up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think that Serena really -- is she serious about me not catching her? Is that the question?

Q. Does she seriously want to end your career with more Slam titles than she has?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she just wants to garner as many championships as she can. Obviously, if she doesn't win, she always wants me to win. That's basically how we both feel, to sum it up.

Q. They showed a tape from your '97 match. So much joy came out of you. Do you feel that same kind of joy if you win a championship now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Did you ask me that? Maybe you didn't see Wimbledon (laughter).

Q. If you won again here, do you think?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, in those days, I think maybe the matches that they were showing, the replays of these exciting matches where I barely won, things were happening for the first time. It's all about the circumstances. If you win 6-1, 6-0, obviously you knew you were going to win. But if you're under these dire straits, you get out of it, somehow you win, that's when all the joy and these kinds of emotions come out. If the circumstances are like that, I think that you'll see from me or hopefully any player a nice celebration.

Q. You were asked about hurricane Katrina. Since your response, I know you said you were trying not to watch television, do you kind of think about those comments? You've taken some criticism for them.

VENUS WILLIAMS: The comments were taken completely out of context. What I said was that I was in Florida, and at this time it was a tropical storm Katrina. I didn't know it was coming and I couldn't leave Florida because I didn't know it was coming. My flight got canceled. I was trying to come to The Open. I didn't know. Those were my comments.

Q. You also said that you don't watch TV, you don't like watching news, and you prefer not to know. That was the other part of it.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I said that. Yes, I did say that. But I said that's why I didn't know about -- I was in those circumstances at home that I couldn't leave Florida, because I didn't watch the news, I didn't watch TV. That's why that happened. That's pretty much what I said. At the end of the day, all these things, you know, I wish I could do something. Everyone's trying to do something. This is a sad time. Everyone's in my prayers. I feel like God will watch after them in whichever way. That's pretty much my thoughts on the matter.

Q. Is the yellow shoelace fund-raising your way of trying to deflect some of this criticism and show you have compassion?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, basically Zina called me and called my sister Isha and said she wanted to do something, not just for the short-term, but for the long-term. You know, obviously this will be in the news for a little while, but after that, these people will be left on their own to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, it seems people who already may not have a lot to begin with are hit the hardest. It's pretty much a long-term thing that these people have the opportunity. We'll be able to help not just for a minute.

Q. How much money do you hope to generate from the sales of the shoelaces?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't say. It's pretty premature. At the moment it's just a few days in the works. At the moment I hope as much as possible.

Q. It wasn't up on the website.

VENUS WILLIAMS: It's so quick, you know. Things have only been happening a couple days. Doing the best we can.

Q. How much are they?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point they're a dollar, yeah.

Q. Are they yellow because the Lance Armstrong bands?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Yellow signifies hope. This is what it's for.

Q. Can you talk about the 2001 and 2002 finals, your memories or thoughts? Beat Serena in 2001, then lost in --

VENUS WILLIAMS: 2000 final, I just remember I think I got down one or two breaks real early. I was down 1-4. I was so calm. I was just thinking, "This is like a chess match; I just have to make a better move." I guess I made some better moves and got the title. 2001 --

Q. 2002.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Are you talking about when I played Serena?

Q. Yes.

VENUS WILLIAMS: 2001, I don't feel like I was playing that great, and Serena wasn't either. I was kind of at the end of my rope and very tired. I was just playing on a hope, a dream, and a reputation. You know, I still had some skills obviously. 2002, especially, I was just finished. It's so hard to play so many years in a row like this. Serena had some years where she was a little bit down but then came up. That was kind of her time. That was my time when I had been up a few years, and I kind of was a little tired. It was kind of a seesaw.

Q. You've been asked this a million times. Every match is a new match. Is it really just another match when you play her, especially when it's a Slam?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Another match in which way?

Q. When you play Serena. Does it really feel like another match or is it a different kind of match?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a different kind of match in the fact that I'm playing another top player. This is always a factor. Obviously, if Serena was No. 60 in the world, not a huge threat, it would be completely different, and the same for me, vice versa. I think the fact that she's very good, great, fantastic, a legend, these are factors, and I take the match quite seriously. That's how I see the match.

Q. The fact she's your sister, does it feel different than going up against Hantuchova or whoever?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it's definitely different because she is my sister. In which ways that would be adverse or bad, there's nothing like that at all. There's only good things.

Q. Don't you also feel like you played each other or practiced each other so many times, you know each other's games and rhythms like books?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, because Serena and I, we don't have patterns. You can't say if you pull us wide, we're going to hit an exact way. Some players do have these patterns. That's not the fact for Serena and I. You have to be on your toes playing either of us because you don't know which shot's going to come.

Q. Do you prepare any differently because it is your sister, differently than you would for another top player?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe practice a little harder.

Q. Will you be practicing with her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know yet because I don't know what time she booked her practice. Because I played tonight, I might not. I don't know. I haven't booked my practice yet.

Q. She said she might poison your food.

VENUS WILLIAMS: She doesn't know that I have a food taster.

Q. Does it get easier to deal with the emotions of playing your sister?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's okay. I think I just want -- even if Serena -- likewise for her, we both just want to win the match, whether she's playing me or I'm playing her or someone else. That doesn't change that at all.

End of FastScripts….

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