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January 14, 2006

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus, please.

Q. How are you feeling heading into The Open, Venus? Feeling fit and energetic?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm feeling good. I'm very excited. When this time of year rolls around, I always get pretty amped because I'm tired of being home, pretty tired of practicing, just ready to get a match. It's about that time.

Q. Are you fully fit? Any injury concerns or things like that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I am fully fit. If I wasn't fully fit, I would still say I'm fully fit. So I'm fully fit (smiling).

Q. All the top 20 players are here, if I'm not mistaken. What does that mean for the women's game? Perhaps taking advantage of a longer break being put in place?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Nice. I think it's very nice. I had a long break personally. I think it was very good. I think it's just a credit to the tournament that they're able to have this nice draw.

Q. Do you draw any comparisons with the fact that all the guys seem to be falling by the wayside, but all the women are fit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea why. Other people might be injured, but I'm happy for the women's draw. You know, I feel sad for players who are injured because I've been there, done that. Probably will do it again.

Q. You don't think the women maybe handle their schedules better than the men?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Each and every person's a little different. Some people need to play more. Others, like me, are obligated to play less because of issues. You know, each person is different.

Q. (Question regarding competition being even.)

VENUS WILLIAMS: At the end of the day, it's always an even playing field. You don't win a match until it's over. You don't win the tournament until it's over. I think it's important not to be overconfident. I think that can be a big flaw, a big downfall. I mean, we all saw what happened to Macbeth. You've got to be careful.

Q. Do you know much about your first round opponent?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I really don't. I'm just looking to show up healthy, get my game on.

Q. Where does the Australian Open sit with your preparations, what you want to achieve in your career?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I've had a wonderful career. I'm looking to have more wonderful moments. My whole thing is that as long as I know that I gave a hundred percent every time, and I left it on the court, did the best that I could, even if I could have done better, but if at that time that was my best, I can retire easy. But that time is quite a bit from now. But I obviously I'd like to win this event. I've won the doubles and the mixed. In my career, I'm missing like four titles like to hold all, all the Slams, in each event possible. Obviously I have to win the singles here to kind of get it down to three titles.

Q. A career Slam is something that you really focus on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. To be honest, I think the toughest events will probably be to get the mixed at Wimbledon and the US Open. That's going to be tough. Obviously, it's easy I guess to find a good partner, but it's hard to find the time in the schedule.

Q. Did it bother you at all that you won a Slam last year, had a great Wimbledon, and you didn't finish in the top eight and didn't qualify for the end of the year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I did qualify; just couldn't play. But does it bother me? I'd like to say I finished one, but there's a zero behind it (laughter). Hey, it is what it is.

Q. Any desire for any numbers this year for yourself?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously I was -- obviously with the injuries I had last year, I was hoping to finish in the top eight, but that didn't happen. Some players managed to play more than I did, so I got pushed back a little bit. I just feel pretty confident that I'll improve on that number, for sure.

Q. You clearly think you're better than No. 10 in the world. What number would you think you're at at the moment?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Hey, in my head, I'm always a champ. I won't usurp anyone's position, anyone ahead of me. They've obviously worked quite hard to get to that number. All credit to them. So right now I'm going to work on moving up in my ranking and not say what number I am. You guys all know what number I feel like I am, so I won't get into that.

Q. Fantastic ring. Is that a present?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was a present. Actually, I've been wearing it for more than two years now. When I'm out here, it's what I wear. But not a present from a guy. Don't get that confused.

Q. Your 10th ranking, is that a main motivation to prove doubting Thomases that you are capable of being No. 1?

VENUS WILLIAMS: My main motivation, I think I'm motivated by my belief in myself and my ability. Obviously hard work, that is very motivating. My whole thing is you can't fade me.

Q. If you win the singles here, will you actually try and concentrate more on finding a mixed doubles partner for Wimbledon and the US Open?

VENUS WILLIAMS: That's a good question. I don't know. It just depends on how I'm feeling at that time. Hopefully I'll be extra healthy and rearing to go. I did play mixed at Wimbledon last year. It made the world of difference in my game. I played a mixed doubles match before I played Mary Pierce. Seriously, it changed my whole game. I got so much better. So I think playing doubles does really add to your game. It's just matter a being fit enough. And for once, yeah, I was fit enough. Yeah, hopefully.

Q. Do you get a real guide to how well you're playing when you're practicing? Obviously, the first major of the year. Do you have to wait till you get on court against an opponent before you really know how you're playing?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like to be ready before I even come to the city that I'm playing in. Obviously it's great if you're having wonderful practice sessions, but even if I'm not having the best practice sessions, I'd like to think that I'm professional enough to be able to do the right thing on the court. It's mind over matter for me.

Q. You've been to a number of Australian Opens. What do you find is the best preparation?

VENUS WILLIAMS: For me it's important for me not to go from zero to a hundred. I am unable to play any events beforehand because for me to play two events in a row is going zero to a hundred. For me to play an exhibition beforehand and then play the tournament is the right thing to do. I feel like I know my body now. It's just so important for me to come in here without having played a ton of matches. For me that's the best preparation.

Q. You probably were asked this at the exhibition, but what are your thoughts on Martina Hingis coming back?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's a great player. I think that -- I'm happy she came back. I think a lot of people are happy. I think like her fans are extra happy. I think she's living her dreams. The sky's the limit for her, really for anyone on the WTA Tour. We all start on the same playing field. We all have the same opportunities to do whatever. It's an open game. So I think as long as she works hard, she should do fine.

Q. Were you surprised she came back or did you expect she would at some point after she retired so early?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just didn't know if she would or not. But I think that we were all pleasantly surprised when we heard she was coming back.

Q. Where do you think somebody with her game fits into the current scene?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I haven't really seen her play, so I'm not sure where she would fit. But obviously she's - as we know - an extremely great competitor and really very good out there with what she does on the court. Obviously, pretty experienced. She's probably watched a lot of tennis since she's been away. That actually helps a lot. When you watch a lot, you learn a lot, so she should do well.

Q. How do you rate you're chances in the next fortnight?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I have a decent chance. My whole thing is I'm not thinking about like the final right now. I'm so totally focused on the first round, that's my main goal right now. Then it will be Round 2. I'm not taking it too fast. I'm trying to improve on my result from last year.

Q. Should we put money on you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not into the whole betting on sports things, so don't even pull me in on that (laughter). Cannot answer that question, sorry.

Q. What did you learn most from your injuries?


Q. The whole gamut, the frustration you went through last year.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, from my past injuries, I was able to learn to accept my limitations. So if I'm unable to play, I shouldn't expect to play or try to play. I also learned that when you're injured, you should accept that you're injured and not expect that you'll be better the next day. There's going to be a set amount of time, then you'll be better then. So I was able to know I shouldn't wait at home and think I'm going to be able to play the next week. I was also able to learn to go out and have some fun. Isha and I really did it this year, last year, we had fun. That's my sister.

Q. Have you been doing a little bit more work off the court, working on fitness that you've lessened the tournament load a little bit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Do I look fit?

Q. You look pretty fit.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you. Is that a compliment (smiling)? Oh, my God, thank you. I'm feeling pretty fit. I'm feeling pretty fit, yeah. As you said, I'm looking fit. So that's always good. I feel like I've done as much as I could to get ready for this event, so I'm okay.

Q. Are you still studying?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I'm still studying. I'm struggling. It's really hard. I got very anxious in my last quarter. It was really tough. I had to talk myself through a lot of anxiety. Being out so late, I was the last person to leave lab. It was really tough. It's taken me quite a few weeks. Like when I would think about school, I would get so anxious. Or at home we have a sewing room. I would pass by, like totally freeze up. If I was watching a movie, they were studying in the movie, I'd have to turn it off (laughter). I was so stressed out. I was able to realize that anything worth working for, you have to work hard. Sometimes it gets tough. So now I'm okay. I'll be back in school next quarter after this, Australia. Yeah, I'm still studying. I'm expecting to finish this year finally, after eight years. Finally going to finish.

End of FastScripts….

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