September 7, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question for Venus, please.
Q. How do you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel real good. Yeah, just happy I got the win and I guess maybe the significance is just settling in still.
Q. At what point in the first set do you feel that your forehand ground stroke really locked in, you really felt you could hit anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just windy. I was having a tougher time with the wind today and, you know, if anything, I feel like my forehand was better than my backhand these two weeks. If anything, I was struggling more on my backhand really. So once I got in touch with the wind, it was okay.
Q. What do you think? Around the sixth game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I knew I was only down one break. I just didn't feel like it was my day to leave the tournament. A lot of times you can feel your demise. Today I just didn't feel it.
Q. This is an historic afternoon. You and your best friend, sister, two African Americans, into the final of the US Open. Could you comment on the significance of this in terms of tennis history.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's sweet. It's sweet. Just real nice. Had a lot of blessings from God. And we're happy that we're healthy and we're happy to be here.
Q. Is it possible for you to want to win against your sister as much as you do against anyone else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I'm still trying to take the title home. I know that she won't be giving up anything tomorrow, too. It's been like two years for her since she's won. It's been a year for me since I won here, too. So...
Q. When you took the court knowing that Serena was already at the final, is it more motivation or is it more pressure to go on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't feel any pressure because, more than anything, I wanted to win my match. So I didn't take into account that she had won. I was really happy she had won, for sure. The way she closed it out was impressive. So I think maybe I had a little motivation to close mine out, too. But today I wasn't so much into the score. I was more or less like into keeping those points for me. Finally, it was finished.
Q. So what happens tonight? Do you see your sister? Is it like all war until tomorrow, it's all over?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we'll just keep on keeping on. In the end, we're taking everything home.
Q. I'm saying tonight, will you go to dinner with her? Or is it like, "I don't want to see her until this is all over"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, definitely not. We'll probably go out and eat. That's necessary (laughing).
Q. You played your sister a few times now. On the morning of a match when you're going to play her, do you actually still hit together? Maybe a half hour or so?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess it depends on if I choose a different practice time, then I won't hit with her. If we choose the same time, then we'll hit together. Sometimes we choose different times.
Q. Why do you feel the nation is so avid to see you and Venus play tennis? I ask that, when you have played, the matches haven't been considered all that enthralling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A lot of matches we played haven't been considered championship, heroic matches. I think that tomorrow will be different, especially since the fact that I'm going to be returning, you know, a serve very similar to mine and I haven't had to do that in quite a long time. So that's going to be an experience, too.
Q. Why do you think in the past your matches with your sister haven't necessarily been of the same quality that your individual matches are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just that in general I just rise to the occasion with each match. I wouldn't say today the match I played was an epic thriller. You can't expect that from every match. The match Andre and Pete played, that was fantastic. That doesn't happen every year, every tournament.
Q. Are you and Serena capable of playing a match like that, do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope so. We come out there, compete, and just play well.
Q. Do you think you're mentally stronger on the court than Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We're just two different players, two different persons, react to situations differently. I think -- I hope at least tomorrow that I'll be.
Q. Given what happened the last time you were supposed to play each other, do you feel like you have to prove anything to anybody tomorrow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have nothing to prove in my life. All I have to do is live and pay my taxes. That's all (laughter).
Q. Your dad said both you and Serena are injured. Is that the case?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone has injuries, you know, every player. It's hard. Especially toward this point of the year, because all the hardcourts, all the matches, your body gets worn down naturally. You strain muscles easier. So actually I'm in better health physically this year than what I was last year.
Q. Are you both in good enough health to play a match tomorrow that's not influenced by injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm okay. I haven't asked Serena.
Q. Has some of the criticism been unfair about your previous matches, where people would hint that there's fixing going on? Was that unfair?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that anyone would have wrote that or said that was very unprofessional. I take pride in my sport and my performance. You know, I'm just appalled that anyone would hint something like that. But I don't think that has ever been the case and that it ever will be.
Q. Can you talk about one of your epic practice sessions, one of the more memorable ones with Serena, kind of what goes on there when you're going all out?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, one time we had to hit from eight to three in the afternoon. But that was a long time ago, when we were kids. We didn't want to be there. But it happened. Finally, we left.
Q. Why did you have to hit from eight to three?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When you're little, those kind of things happen. You just keep hitting and hitting. You're ready to go, but you just keep hitting. When you're young, you put those hours in. When you get older, the time's less and less.
Q. What is the most competitive match you guys have played? Not necessarily here on the tour, but LA, Florida?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe the mixed doubles we played in '98 at the French Open. That was pretty competitive. No one seems to remember that (smiling).
Q. Your dad said it was the happiest day of his life. What does that mean to you that your father would say that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think he's put a lot of work into this, a lot of hours, a lot of sacrifices on his part. I guess he's just proud of both of us.
Q. I'm guessing you may have dreamed what it would be like for you and Serena to play here at the US Open in the finals. When was the first time you imagined this happening?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, it was my dad's dream, my mom's dream. They told us we'd be here playing each other in the finals. That's why we believed it. If they had told us we would never make it playing tennis, I don't think we'd be here today. So it all started with my parents giving us positive reinforcement.
Q. Opponents talk about how physically demanding it is playing against yourself and your sister, how it's different playing against you guys. What do you expect tomorrow? What kind of a match do you expect when you put those two powerful players against one another?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, a lot of times when you put two powerful players against one another, it's more difficult because the unforced error count can become high because of both players. If you put a powerful player and a less powerful one, they both have to adjust to each other's games. I guess we'll have to keep the unforced errors down.
Q. I know you're used to seeing your miles per hour clock being higher than your opponent's. What will it be like tomorrow when it's a much closer miles per hour on the serve? How will you react to that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think Serena and I, we both mix it up. Should we go for our speed, because it's easy to get points off a short ball we can move in on. Then also we do hit some kick serves and some sliders. So it's variety that's the spice of life. That's what keeps our opponents on their toes.
Q. Do you have any sense of how difficult this is for your mom and your dad, too, because they're helpless to control the match; they want both of you to succeed certainly?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think in their minds we've succeeded already - not really with just tennis, but just with being people and good citizens. That's all they wanted for us, is for us to be happy in our lives and to do what we want. At this point, we've done what we wanted, we've been successful and we're healthy. That's all they wanted from us.
Q. Were you at all bothered by the booing at the end of the first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Over the line calls.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm here to compete. I couldn't be too bothered. I won the first set. Things had went my way. I was feeling pretty good at that point.
Q. If you could step back and get one of Serena's either strokes or one of her qualities as a tennis player, what would that be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did take one of her qualities. You know, just her will to fight. That's how I became a fighter, too.
Q. Where did you see that? When did that happen?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This was like in '98 in Sydney, Serena was playing a top player (inaudible). Serena was down 1-6, love-5. She was fighting like there was no tomorrow, like it was her last day on Earth. After that I reconsidered. I wasn't such a fighter. After that, I became a fighter, too. That's what I took from her game. We've taken different things from each other's game and advised each other.
Q. Do you think she's taken anything from yours?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I tell her different things, what I've learned over the years. But I don't know. You'd have to ask her.
Q. There's been criticism in the past about when you played. In tomorrow's match, would you want it to be as quick as possible, you win, get it over with, or would you want it to be three sets, epic, show everybody how fantastic this match can be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm always hoping to play a clean match (laughter).
Q. Last time you played your sister was in an exhibition for your mother's charity. How competitive was that match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that was a tough match because I had taken seven days off, and it was very windy. So I wasn't playing my best tennis. That was the toughest part of it. But other than that, it was okay.
Q. Jennifer told us she didn't have to run down so many balls as she had to do today, and she kind of ran out of gas. Was there any point where you realized she was tired?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't see that she was tired or not. She's a pretty strong person. Well, actually a person and player. I didn't see her fatigue. Maybe she was searching for the answers to get back into the match. Maybe I saw that, but in my opinion, she ran for every ball.
Q. She also complained about the wind. She mentioned the wind. Did that bother you too?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm accustomed to the wind at this point. Every year I play here, I play through the wind. Likely, she hasn't had the same experience that I've had in the wind. So maybe that was a factor.
Q. Tomorrow night is the first time that the women's final will be on prime time CBS. Obviously, historic for you and your sister. Are you aware of how important this is for the WTA? Will you be following the ratings after all this is over? From the business end of it, is it something you think about?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's fantastic. It is. When I first heard about the prime time final, I was hoping that I'd be there. I was gonna make it my personal goal, you know, my personal dream to be in the final. And it's happened. What do you know, there's Serena, too. It's great. It would have been great, in my opinion, if it was -- especially for us. It's women's tennis, it's the last final, it's in America. It would have been if it was Serena, Jennifer, Lindsay, an all-American final, it would have been great.
Q. Do you think the attention this match is going to get tomorrow can have a positive impact on bringing more African Americans into the game of tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. I don't know too much about things outside of tennis. I understand things in this small world, but outside of what's growing and what's happening, I don't know.
Q. A lot has been made about the number of tournaments you play and the number of tournaments your sister plays. Now that you're both in the final, what does that say to you, versus all the other competitors on the tour?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We do what makes us happy. I feel I've played enough. So... I've been to places that I've wanted to be. I've had good times and good memories there. For me, that's what counts.
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