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June 29, 2006

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you recall a match like this where you were teetering on the brink of defeat and suddenly reeled off nine consecutive games in this case, something like that, and turned the match around?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My gosh, maybe like a US Open semifinal, like, you know. I think against Hingis once I was down 3-5 in the third. There have been some major times. Obviously, last year's final (laughing). I was really down this time.
I took the positives out of it 'cause I was only down one break, and I was serving very well. I just happened to play some bad shots to get broken. I was just thinking, you know, All I have to do is break once and it's gonna be very tough for her to break me again.
Once I got that break, I felt very confident serving at 4-5.

Q. When you start a comeback like that, do you mentally draw on other comebacks that you've had?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think subconsciously I think most certainly I do, because to have come back before, definitely brings confidence and experience to the next time. I guess in this sense, this time, so it was very important, all those past ones.

Q. What do you think did turn this around for you? What turned it around so dramatically?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think I started playing better definitely in that second set, but she was still serving so well, just hitting corners, was kind of fast and low. She was volleying well behind it. She just really was playing well.
I just picked up, I think, my techniques and my game, and it was just a matter of me getting that one game. I just seemed to then get another break and another break. It was all very exciting because I was happy that that third set was a lot smoother than the first two.

Q. Do you get the sense sometimes that you're steamrolling almost when you do turn it around with that much force?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It was about time, I think. I think my feet weren't moving as well as they should have. They were a little slow. I think, you know, a lot of credit to her because she played so well that she put me in a position where, uhm, you know, I really had to fight for it.
More than anything, I think my return was off. Finally, I got it back in the later part of the second. That was really crucial.

Q. How do you think this helps you as you go toward the second week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every little bit helps. Every little bit hurts. Who sings that song? I can't remember now, it's an oldie.
But, anyway, yeah, it's all about, you know, surviving to another day. I felt that it would be such a shame like to lose in the second round because I am playing so well and serving well, and, you know, I almost met my match today. But it's nice to know that she played so well but I was able to get through it. So that will be taking a lot to the second week.

Q. Did you ever feel at any point that this was it, your championship defense, you'd blown it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, there was some times where I was a little frustrated with my shot selection as far as not getting it in the court.
But in a tournament, in a match, especially in a Grand Slam, in Wimbledon, is really no time to get frustrated or upset. You just have to play your way out of it or else me, especially I would regret such emotions in a match.

Q. Was it in the back of your mind it was bad if you lose here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not bad. You lose sometimes. Most of the times I won't. It is very important not to think about losing. It's important to think about finding the solution before time runs out, so that's pretty much what I did.

Q. Do you think perhaps it might have done you some good to have a tough match at this stage? Normally people are steamrolling through their first- and second-round matches.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I do enjoy winning straightforward. Uhm, to have a push early on, some people say is good, some say it's bad. I just say it's good to get to the next round.

Q. Did your father have anything to say about this match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, he was really happy. He said, "You're a good fighter, V." He's always very happy when I'm able to fight out of such situations. I think it makes him real proud.

Q. Are you in touch with Serena by e-mail or phone?

Q. Daily?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Pretty much, yes.

Q. Usually e-mail or phone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hmm, nowadays more phone than e-mail.

Q. Joke with you when she calls?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we were have having similar problems (laughing) - off the court. So, yeah... Take a wild guess.

Q. Got a romance budding?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we're both very single.

Q. Single has nothing to do with romance, does it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it doesn't, does it? Maybe we're not romantics. But we've been supporting each other with those problems, as you can think, and helping each other solve the mysteries.

Q. How long have you been single?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh... (laughing).
THE MODERATOR: We're here to do tennis questions.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Very long time. I like it, yeah.

Q. Does the feeling of invincibility ever enter into your mind, especially on this surface, such as when you're on a roll as you were after you turned this match around?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, no. I think overconfidence can also be a downfall. Sometimes you get too relaxed and let your opponent creep back in. I think when I'm really confident in obviously is my serve, just, you know, gives me so many good points easily. When I get a chance to move forward, it's very good. I'm feeling confident on that, too.
That helps the whole invincibility type thing.

Q. Is there anything about your game right now that you're not pleased with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm feeling good about everything - very good.
Today my returns, but I think that wasn't really me, per se, I think she just was serving well. So I had to find the rhythm on the way her trajectory was.

Q. Do you feel strongly enough about equal pay that you would recommend to your fellow pros not playing Wimbledon if you felt that the officials here at the All England Club were intransigent about giving you equal money?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you think about that question, Andrea? Am I allowed to answer that one? He says yes.
Those are really strong words. I think that all the women players, we love Wimbledon. That's no doubt. We've always said that. And we love playing here. But we don't enjoy playing here as unequals. And we're very, very, very, very dedicated to being on this path to change that for us and to be a really, really positive example for women around the world. So that's personally my stance.
There's no "B" word involved at all. I don't use that word.

Q. If they said you could have pay equality if you played five sets, would you take that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, absolutely. If the All England Club felt that five sets was the way to go, the women players would be prepared to play. You know, I would have no problem with it. I think it would be a whole lot of fun.

Q. Have you had any unexpected reaction to your op-ed piece?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I haven't had any unexpected reaction. I think people have been able to respect, you know, a researched opinion and a well-founded one, and also one that's based on truth.
So I've had a lot of compliments from the women players and some e-mails. It's been very nice. More than anything in the tour, we've all been working together so, you know, I can't take credit for that article. We've all been working together. It's just been actually a really exciting time.

Q. Any support from any of the men players?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't heard anything. No one's walked up to me yet. I'd like to think that however silent they may be, they are in agreement (smiling).

Q. Very soon the US Open Series will begin with electronic line calling. Players will get two unsuccessful challenges, and if you run out of your challenges and there is a call that is so bad that it's nearly the same as the call that Serena got against Jennifer Capriati a couple years ago, according to the USTA, that's too bad, you're out of luck, there's no way to change it. Do you agree with that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that every system, you know, has flaws. I think that the best part is that tennis has moved forward with this kind of thing because matches can turn on a dime. I'd like to think that if the call is that bad, the umpire will overrule it.
So, you know, I think so far it's been pretty successful I think at the tournaments it's done already. Hopefully that won't come to happen.

Q. Do you feel comfortable being the leader of this movement for pay equality?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Am I the leader?

Q. You seem to be.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I am? Well, I have very strong opinions for equality for all people, and, uhm, I don't know. If you say I'm a leader, I'm a leader, I don't know. I just feel like I'm doing my best to do my part and work together, all the women players on the tour cohesively.

End of FastScripts...

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