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May 19, 2006

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can I get a hairdo like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it takes hours.
Q. What do you call it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just braided.
Q. Just braided?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It's too long to, you know...(whipping her hair around). I'd have to have an injury time-out (smiling).
Serena actually had this in 2001. She had her hair braided like this. So I'm kind of taking after Serena.
Q. It doesn't bother you when the weather is very, very hot?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh-uh. It's really easy because I don't have to comb my hair. Just braid it.
Q. How long does it take?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It takes about seven hours with two braiders.
Q. Two braiders, seven hours?
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Nodding yes).
Q. What do you do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Read books, watch TV, fall asleep.
Q. It's always the same person?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I use the same two ladies. I go to DC.
Q. Washington?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, my sister lives up there and I go there about once a month. I started going up there once a month the last six months.
Q. Why do you women do things like this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it's a really cool hairstyle, though
Q. Second set, 4-3 and 40-15 for Jankovic. After, the match is finished.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know. You know what, when I was in the situation, I didn't really realize it. That's the best part about being right in the middle of something, you just go through it. I wasn't playing that well. Too many errors. I was thinking, "Well, Venus, you've been in worse pickles than this. You can handle this."
So I just, you know, was obviously fighting for the break. But even the break, I'd just say, "Hold and you're right back in the match."
So, you know, it was a test of endurance today. Feel like I was able to match her step for step with that and be more superb, actually. We both had long matches yesterday.
Q. Are you surprised a little bit about yourself? For sure you do a lot of practice through the year. But when I see you every time, after a while when you come back, every time you are able to "vrroom," like this. Is a surprise for yourself or not?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I work hard before I come back on tour. I do try to get myself together. Also, I expect that of myself, to be right here, ready.
You know, the women players are getting better and better each day and trying to play more powerful and play better tennis, so I know I have to be ready.
Q. What were the injuries?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had like a strained or a sprained or like a little tear in my elbow, whatever you want to call it.
Q. Right elbow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, kind of like a golfer's elbow. It was just bizarre. It wouldn't heal. More than anything, I couldn't serve.
So, hey, that's where the match begins (laughing). So I had to stay off tour until I could get it together.
Q. Strain or a tear? Was there a tear?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, not like a huge. But like, you know, a little.
Q. Which sort of feeling do you have knowing that you have a weapon like that, the serve you have but you cannot use it because you have this sort of injury? Which feeling do you have in your head?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Right. Well, in Warsaw I couldn't really -- I wasn't serving well. Here, in the first round, I mean, not too well. But these next few rounds, better and better.
You know, just ironing out the mistakes pretty much. You know, it's horrible. Like 'cause I'm used to playing a game with, you know, big serve and, you know, speed and all that. So when I don't have it, it's definitely a major adjustment for the next player who maybe doesn't have a big serve, used to playing without it. For me, I have to learn how to play without it, but I'm hoping that I won't have to for the rest of my career.
Q. You've played so few matches this year. Where do you stand against the real Venus Williams?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing pretty well. I definitely would like to move forward better. I think my returns are very good. I think my serve needs to get a little more consistent. It's just a matter of a few techniques.
Obviously, you know, when I'm not winning, it's because of the errors. I feel like the players today are very, very good, but it's not really anyone gonna like hit harder or like out-hit me or out-run me. It's usually that I'm making the errors. So, obviously, that's a very important part of my game to keep under control.
Q. So many people say to me, "Has Venus lost interest in tennis," and I say, "Well, I'll ask her."
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, people always have said that from jump, you know, since the '90s. They were like, "Well, you're doing too much. You know, stay focused," blah, blah, blah.
And people always have something to say. People have always said something. For me, it's like I'm living my life every day. I love what I do. I only have a limited amount of time to do it. When I'm healthy, I'm on tour.
Q. You have too many options in your life. Maybe if you was worse and horrible, maybe you don't think like that. But maybe you are a nice girl, you are rich, you already won a lot, so you have to "blah, blah, blah."
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't like to lose, though. So as long as I hate losing, I think I'll be playing good tennis.
Q. Were you spending many, many hours practicing before coming to Europe each day?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I started training again -- well, I was trying to train before, obviously, NASDAQ, but I just couldn't serve and had a lot of problems. So I took a little time off, you know.
I was still in Miami, but I wasn't playing, so it was annoying because everywhere I went, "Oh, when do you play?"
"I'm not playing." You know? It's very depressing, "Leave me alone" (laughing).
So I started, you know, training after NASDAQ for about a month and was just really determined to get it right. I just got a lot of breakthroughs with my physio and started to feel better. Here I am.
Q. And you have also to work on your physical fitness?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. For sure. That's really important, especially in clay courts. It's very important because the matches will be longer. Sometimes people think that they can beat you just 'cause you're on clay. I don't think that, and I think I always should win. I'd like to win every one (smiling). Doesn't always happen, but, yeah, I was working on my physical fitness.
Q. You have not the feeling that you are so unique, like your style of game, your personality, that maybe tennis needs you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Does tennis need me? Well, it's a nice feeling to be needed. I think the uniqueness about my game and also Serena's game is that we're not really predictable. Like we could be on the run and where someone would hit crosscourt, we're going to hit it down the line and nail it. You don't know what we're going to bring out of the bag. I think that's definitely one of our strengths, we don't have patterns.
But I think with Serena and I, we're just us and we just have so much fun win, lose or draw. Life is still good. So I think a lot of people see that in us, and maybe that's why people were wanting to see what we did all this time.
Q. When will we see her again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hopefully, soon, you know. I just want the "Williams sisters." I miss her. Even I don't really ask her like, you know -- we don't ever talk about injuries. Sometimes I'm thinking, "Should I ask her?" Sometimes I even have to ask my physio, "Oh, what's wrong with her?"
Serena and I are always talking about other things - gossip and guys or that kind of stuff - but never really injuries.
I don't want her to be sad, too, like, "When are you coming back?" I don't want her to feel bad that she's not playing. So when she sees what I'm doing, she's always more encouraged, "I've got to get it better, get healthy." We encourage each other.
Q. What do you think about now in women's tennis there is not a clear No. 1? Why, it is because anybody is not so strong or everybody is very strong?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think everyone's very good, very good. I think that each player you play, at least I know that I need to bring my best game. If I'm playing a lower-ranked player, they probably feel like, "I have nothing to lose, let me try." If I'm playing a higher-ranked player, they feel like, you know, "I've trained hard, I probably deserve to win." Everybody's playing good tennis.
Why isn't there a clear No. 1? I don't know. I haven't been on tour (laughing). I've played like so little in the last -- since Wimbledon, actually. I'm definitely trying to -- I want to get my ranking up. I'm not so happy with the No. 12 or wherever I am right now. That's not me, and I know that. I have to try to stay on tour and get my ranking up.
Q. Is there a difference between No. 2 and No. 3 if you are Venus or Serena Williams when someone walks on the court with you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that when someone walks on the court with us, no, they don't see -- they see, you know, a very high ranking. They see, you know, a Williams sister. You know, it's nice to know that we put in the work to have a good reputation.
Q. Roland Garros will play on Sunday. Does it bother you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know what? What is the Tour's stance on that?
JOHN DOLAN: They awarded equal prize money to the women's champion this year, so it's a good thing from that point of view. It's a third weekend for tennis so they're bringing more fans to the sport.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Right. Is that how we feel?
JOHN DOLAN: Is that how you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really do like to be in synch with the Tour, to be honest. I don't like to be a wild canon.
I just feel, obviously, the players, if we have to play an extra day, we just obviously want to be compensated for that.
We feel good about bringing more fans to the sport, more TV time. Especially in tennis, we're competing with other sports - in Europe obviously football; in the States obviously basketball, baseball, football, that kind of thing.
And obviously for equal prize money, great for the winner, but there's 127 more, you know, human beings. So we'll get there.
Q. And if you are asked to play on the first Sunday, would it bother you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd better be ready (smiling). That's all.

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