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June 25, 2002

Venus Williams

Wimbledon, England

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Venus Williams. Can we take the first question, please.

Q. Are you aware of how many points your opponent got on your serve in the first set?


Q. The answer is one. Do you want to talk about how well you were serving today.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Today was very good. I think that, you know, maybe it was a little tougher to return the serve because of the surface and because of the speed. She was standing in close. And also it was probably a thing of experience. Maybe she's never played a server like me before.

Q. I know you've said obviously you and your sister would love to play each other in the finals, as you did two of the last three Grand Slams. In between all the stuff that is written about you and your sister, do you pay much attention to it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, normally I'm not reading. Sometimes, maybe after the tournament. But not really, not normally.

Q. Was it good to get that out of the way, bearing in mind it was British opposition, and also it was so smooth?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, to be honest, she played very well. You could see she had a game plan when she came out. She planned to play aggressive and take all her opportunities, which I think she executed quite well. But then, you know, I'm so comfortable on the grass. I served well. I was able to return well. I just have a lot more experience. I think that's really what counted because I'm quite used to players coming out and playing a hundred percent against me.

Q. You had some heavyweight support there in Lennox Lewis. What's that all about?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, to be honest.

Q. Is he a friend of the family?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I just met him today.

Q. Have you tried wearing these new tinted contact lenses to help see the ball better on a return?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I have not. I did get a pair, a trial pair. I let them sit in the sun before I wore them, so I was a little afraid to try them. I kind of forgot that I had them in my tennis bag. They just sat in the car a few days. So I thought maybe it's not a good idea for me to try them out. I think I'd like to try them.

Q. Jane was saying she thinks she can make the breakthrough eventually by playing someone like yourself. Do you think she could make the breakthrough?

VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I think she played really well. I think in order for her to get to the top hundred and make that breakthrough, she's going to have to keep playing the way she did today. I don't think she should be at all discouraged because, you know, I've had a lot more time and a lot more matches, not only at Wimbledon but a lot of other tournaments, to know exactly what I'm doing, what I'm going to do when I come on the court. I think that was mainly whhat she was up against today. But other than that, I think if she keeps playing like that, she'll definitely make a breakthrough, playing aggressive tennis. That's always the way to go, if you ask me.

Q. Do you think her serve was particularly good, because you seemed to have to raise your level a bit?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, her serve was very good, very solid. She had a few double-faults I guess at the wrong times. But that happens when you're younger. It happens to me still. So I think definitely, especially for the grass, she had a nice flat serve that comes in nice. I had to really stay down there and get the ball back. But she did have a good serve.

Q. Are you surprised not to see more English women do well, considering how popular tennis is here?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I never gave it much thought. But everyone loves the game here. I think that's what makes it especially at Wimbledon, is the English people really appreciate this tournament. When you first come, 1:00 on Monday, the court is packed. Centre Court, there is not a seat there. You don't see that at many other tournaments - I don't think any other tournaments.

Q. As many times as you've played an Centre Court, do you still get the same feeling walking out onto the court? Can you talk about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's nice because it's not every match that I will get to play on Centre Court. You know, next they'll shuffle me over to Court 1 or Court 2, wherever I may end up. When I do get out there, I really enjoy the moment. Normally I am playing hard and focusing. But I do try to just realize it is a competition, and I'm here to compete well, and still have a lot of fun at the same time.

Q. If you were asked to launch a two-nations event here on Friday. Have you been approached to help with any other British events or British tennis?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all.

Q. Andre yesterday, of course he wasn't the defending champion, he was the one selected to play the first match on Centre Court. He said it was an honor. Do you feel going out there today, "Hey, I'm the defending champion." Was there a nice feeling about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, last year it was a really nice feeling, that's for sure. This year I was extremely focused because I didn't think my practices were going as well as I wanted them to go the past few days. I didn't think I played that well at the French Open. I didn't have as much practice as I wanted between the French and Wimbledon. When I came out this time, I was all business. I wasn't thinking about nostalgia or anything at all, except hitting the ball well. Afterwards, when I walked off, that's when I kind of realized, "I'm coming back as the defending champion. I have the honor to play first on."

Q. Is it an advantage to you that players are overawed by the fact you're the two-time defending champion, you have that confidence about your game, you have the ability to back it up?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't exactly say that players are in awe of that, that I'm the two-time Champ. But it's nice to be a two-time champion, that's for sure. I'd like to make it three. But I think there's something about the grass. I can play as fast as I want to, and I can do exactly what I want, what I will. I think that's what makes it so comfortable for me.

Q. You've taken to the grass very well. Do you remember your first match anywhere on grass? Most tennis players, they grow up on clay in Europe, America cement. Did you think the ball would bounce on grass? What was the reaction the first match you ever played?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Professional?

Q. Professional or anywhere.

VENUS WILLIAMS: First time I hit on grass, to be honest, I wanted to dive like Becker, I think. I don't think I did any diving. I wasn't brave enough.

Q. Are you traveling with your mom?


Q. How is that different from when your dad is around?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Doesn't say as much. They just have two different approaches to coaching. They're both right, that's for sure - but two different people.

Q. In an interview, Jane talked about practicing her curtsy before the match. I was wondering if you could relate to that? Is that a self-conscious moment at all, even now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all really. I try to do my best on the court curtsy (laughter). I could imagine that would be one thing you could obsess over, maybe you'll fall during the curtsy, twist your ankle and be out of the match. Normally it doesn't happen.

Q. Who are you hitting with this week?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena, sometimes a hitting partner. Mostly Serena.

Q. How do you decide who comes, your mom or your dad? Is it something that you're looking for in particular at that point in your game, or they just kind of decide?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I think they decide. Or if we have a special request, I guess we put it in. But normally I think maybe between Serena and I, we're both trying to mature with our games and not have to think, "If my mom or dad aren't there, we aren't going to do well." I think we're both trying to get away from that mentality. We don't want any crutches for the rest of our life. 28 years old, "Mom, please come to the tournament. I can't deal with it without you".

Q. What would prompt a special request? Is it something that one would bring that the other one -- how they handle it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, yes. If I wanted to work with my mom or dad in particular, I would say what I'd like. And they wouldn't be bitter or resentful at all. I think they've gotten past those things after high school, you know.

Q. Would it be something like one drives you more, pushes you more, and you don't want that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I would say maybe the big difference is that on the court my dad does a lot more coaching. Sometimes my mom can spend the whole session and she'll just sit, we do what we want. Other times she'll become more aggressive, so you never know which way it's going to be. My dad will talk a little bit more off the court - roughly 10 or 15 minutes. My mom, normally we don't talk about tennis off the court.

Q. You're not superstitious having your dad here after winning the last two years?

VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bit. But I think at the French Open, that really helped a lot, to realize I didn't need my dad to win a Grand Slam, I could hopefully do it on my own. He set me up with the basics to make it happen.

Q. Have you been a bit offended by the comments that have been made by people like Pat Cash about your dad, having an unhealthy influence on yourself and your sister?

VENUS WILLIAMS: There's always going to be opinions. I think more than anything my dad's there when I need him, when I need to talk about anything, or if I need help with my game or anything at all - if I need to borrow his car, you know. So I think until people -- until you can actually get to know my dad, then I think it's best not to make an opinion on anyone else until you know them and you can say, "This is my best friend."

Q. When you're at the top like that, do you expect now to get those criticisms from people?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, because I didn't even see what anyone has said, to be honest. I've heard about things over the years, but I'm not keeping up with it.

Q. The other players are talking about when you're on your game, no one can beat you. With that kind of talk, it's kind of reminiscent of what Tiger Woods is doing with golf, where the rest of the field is looking for cracks. Sometimes they still can't win. Do you think about your place in history with tennis, look at whatever Navratilova was doing in the early '80s, the fact that the American women are now taking over women's tennis, what your place is in that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think about it every day, that's for sure. I just do my best to enjoy my game. If I become a big part of tennis history or not, it's not my main goal. It's just to do my personal best and to enjoy the game. For me, that's enough.

Q. You don't look at Martina's nine Wimbledon titles?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I know, that's an unbelievable achievement. I don't know if I could get that far, or even if I'd have the motivation or would stay around so long. Maybe I didn't start winning early enough either, so...

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