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May 16, 2006

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You seem to be really in great shape. What do you think about this? Do you feel you are at a very high level?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm trying. To be honest, I'm playing pretty good. Today my serve was much better than yesterday. It's just about getting in that fighting mode.
Thank you very much for saying I'm in good shape. I was in Warsaw last week and someone told me I had gained weight. So I confronted them and I said, "Well, how much?"
They were like, "Well, I don't know."
I said, "Well, where?"
Finally, they withdrew the question because I'm pretty fit. I'm not overweight (laughing). If you're going to say I'm overweight, you know, be ready, you know.
Thank you (smiling). Life's a little quicker today.
Q. Do you feel like you are moving your legs better than ever on clay? Watching you, your movement seems very, very good.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really? That's one thing I thought could be better today, is my movement. I felt like I was moving a little slow.
I've always been really good on clay, I've always thought. I had some great results. I don't think the clay courts diminish my abilities at all. I enjoy playing on it.
Thank you (smiling).
Q. We heard that you are learning to talk in Italian fluently now. What happened? How does it work?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just have some friends, Italian friends, for a long time now, seven years. Ever since my first time here, I've had friends.
Q. Was it difficult to learn? Can you say some words in Italian?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Is it difficult?
Q. I'm asking you. Is it difficult, do you find Italian difficult or not?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's pretty easy. I think easier than English.
Q. Do you feel any difference from the first times you were coming here? Do you think there was more attention for you then when you were maybe sort of not unknown but, I mean, coming very famous and so on already? Now there are not too many spectators. It's the first rounds. What do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's Tuesday, in the middle of the week, people have to go to work, you know (smiling). So it's actually a pretty good crowd for that day.
You know, when I look back on those times, I just smile because they were such good times. I had a really good childhood and a lot of people can't say that. Like when I look back, I always think about how much I laughed and Serena laughed and my mom laughed. It's good times.
Q. Was it better before when you had sometimes body guards to protect you, or now that you're more relaxed and probably not too many people are chasing you all the time? I don't know. What do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, security is always an issue no matter where you go. But I noticed that most people that have body guards are like the singers and rappers. But if you're looking at like the people in movies and sports and stuff, we don't usually do that - I mean in the States, I don't know about here. We usually kind of just flow easy.
Q. When did you realize and when did you decide that you were ready to be back in competition?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, after I couldn't play NASDAQ, I just made it my goal to play the clay courts. You know, with my arm, it made it difficult to serve more than anything. My serve is slowly improving.
Q. I remember I was in Miami and you came one day and I asked you, Are you going to play a few weeks. At that time you said, "I hope I'm going to play Charleston," but it was too early.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was too early. Some stuff came up. Some stuff suddenly came up, and I couldn't do it.
So here I am, though. It's a blessing to be here.
Q. You wanted to be sure that you were in great shape for the first tournament you were going to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, I wanted to be sure. Warsaw, obviously I would have loved to have played better in the tournament, but it was good and I learned a lot. Next week, I'm already better. Warsaw I had so many mistakes it was incredible. Every game, like, three, four mistakes. It was tough.
But here, you know, mistakes yesterday, but less today. I expect to, you know, do better, find my rhythm always.
So I'm happy. God is good. I'm still alive. This is what counts (smiling).
Q. How much in tennis is fun and how much is job, percentage, 50%, 60, 80? What is more in your opinion?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Practice is a job.
Q. Practice is a job.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Matches are fun (laughing).
Definitely I would put it like that, so 50/50. But it's wonderful, of course, to be prepared and to know you can come to the match and know that you put the work in. It's a beautiful feeling.
Q. And is it more fun the week when you play a tournament like this one or the week before when you had more time off probably to go - I don't know where you went, but you went somewhere, I guess?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the weeks that you're off go by real fast (laughing).
Q. What?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The weeks off go by fast. The tournament week, I think it's just the concentration in each round, you're so concentrated, goes a little slower. It's like time passes but then not at all.
Q. Between the two weeks, which one do you prefer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Both. Both, definitely, yeah.
Q. What are you going to do to prepare for Paris? Are you going to play Istanbul and defend your title?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I would love to, but I decided this year to play Rome. I don't think it's, especially on clay, a great plan to play two weeks before a Grand Slam. Especially on this surface, you never know, sometimes you twist your ankle. You just never know.
So, unfortunately, no.
Q. It seems like you enjoy a lot staying here? It's a matter of Rome? It's a matter of you?
Q. You enjoy staying here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, I love Rome. It's a great city. To me, when I get here, I feel like there's so many possibilities. Like you could do anything or be anything here. There's like a really good energy. The city just feels alive to me. It's probably my favorite city in Europe, for sure. If I lived in Europe, probably Rome.
Q. Will you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't like the cold. I have a real problem with the cold. In the winter I have to be in Florida. In the summer, of course, when it's warm, yeah, in a perfect world. But my coach lives in the States (laughing). And my therapist, I can't make them travel all year, it would be mean. They would quit.
Q. Maybe in the future?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe in the future. It's a good life here in Rome. The States is a wonderful place, too, but I think also here people, they have their priorities a little bit better probably than the States.
Q. How different is to you to stay alone, I mean, without Serena? Is much heavy when she is with you, so much pressure in general altogether? Is easier to be alone? Is funny? How can you describe to be alone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I would describe it as I've gotten used to it. Normally, we're always together, so when she's not here, I have to get used to it. When she's here, it's even more fun. It really is. Like when my mom's here, she's like one of the girls. We have so much fun. We laugh so hard and we joke. We just, you know, we're like best friends and we know each other and what we're going to do. You know, I still e-mail her. We laugh still. It's not the same.
The thing is I always still feel like she's close even if she's far.
Q. Is it more fun when your father is around or when your mother is around?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My dad, he makes friends with everyone, so he's a real people person. My mom's more quieter. But my dad, he stays busy and he's around the city taking pictures and he makes new friends and, you know, he knows people around the world. My mom, we kind of always like spend a lot more time together, like doing everything together.
So it's a little bit different. My dad's like out there, "Hi" (waving), and my mom's like in with us.
It's the same. They're just both different people.
Q. So if they ask you who you want with you in Rome, special, you say you want dad or mom this tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This time I asked my dad to come. European tournament. It was hard. My dad's never been to Rome?
Q. No? First time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: First time. I mean, I haven't played here in so long, too, but this time I asked him to come. It was tough because, like, I'm used to my mom being here. Maybe she'll come to Paris.
Q. Did you take him to the Coliseum or some other places? Has he seen anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we haven't 'cause last week was so concentrated, just training and resting and all this stuff. So, yeah.
Q. Boring?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not boring, but necessary. Working (smiling).
Q. If you go to a restaurant, what do you ask for? You go to an Italian restaurant, Vincenzo is the waiter. What do you say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Which restaurant do you work at (laughing)? What do I ask for, probably penne arriabata, yes. Probably.
Q. You understand what it means?
Q. So you're angry?
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Growling). Yeah, probably that.
Q. And how are the car drivers? Still nice, or only in the past they were nice?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no, our driver is really nice this time. He helps out with everything. Helps carry the bags. He comes to the match. He's like part of the team, you know. You get to know people.
I've been really blessed. Like everyone that we've worked with, our hitting partners, I mean, my therapist I had for six years now. Just meet good people and make friends, so just really blessed 'cause it doesn't always happen like that.
But for us, always.
Q. Coming back just a little bit to tennis, when you think about your season, you think about Wimbledon in your mind? I mean, this match is sort of practice for other things, just to stay on the surface, to play well, to find out your confidence and everything, but your mind is Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What's on my mind at the moment is obviously Rome, and I'm just improving my technique and really just same thing every stroke. So at the moment this is what's on my mind, just improving with every match, every point, and every set. Obviously, after that is Roland Garros.
But, you know, I'm always going to get the best out of myself. I'm always going to do something someone doesn't expect. I've been at the bottom, I've been at the top, I've been injured, I've been everywhere. So I'm pretty experienced at this point.
Q. The United States will play Belgium for the Fed Cup. Have you considered playing, or are you willing to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love Zina and so I'll travel around the world for her. Just like last year, played in Moscow after Wimbledon. It was pretty tough. I need to talk to her because I'm sure we're going to do the team. I wish that it was in the States, sorry. It would be a lot easier for me.
But I don't have an answer for you at the moment is the short answer.
Q. When you think about the Rome tournament, do you think about when you lost to Martina or when you won the tournament and beat Mary Pierce? There is a special souvenir, memory about this tournament, or something else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hmm, I always remember good times, yeah. Yeah, for sure. Even times when I didn't play and I was watching Serena in the finals. I think she played a couple finals. Those were good times, too.
But I always play pretty well at this tournament.
Q. Are you still on good terms with Davidi, if I may ask? Sorry.
Q. Is the last question, come on (laughter). A little gossip.
Q. Give him a chance, come on. Just one chance.
VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you expect me to say? What do you expect me to say? Of course I still am. Of course.
Q. He's not around?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He's working, yeah.

End of FastScripts...

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