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April 21, 2007

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. Talk about the weather conditions today, Venus.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was very windy, sometimes even just trying to get your racquet through. Some of her balls, which were slower, the wind was blowing. It took some effort to reel it back in.

Q. The short balls inside the service line, when did you get that under control?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was just taking my time. Usually the short balls I want to hit it and run in. Some of them I just hit it and didn't run in. Taking some off, not going so much for the line, taking a step back so I could take a step forward.

Q. Your first match back here in Fed Cup in a couple years. How did it feel to be out there in front of the crowd?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was exciting. It was really exciting. I think that the match had some drama, too, with the first set. The second set we were pretty much even until I got the first break. The match happened quick after that.
So it's nice. Of course, I prefer to win as quickly as possible.

Q. On a windy day like this, is there any advantage to having played and trained down here so much?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. But today is the windiest day, of course (laughter), as soon as play starts. Maybe we'll get a little more lucky tomorrow. I've played in all kinds of conditions. I've played in matches where it was so cold, I had to wear a sweater the whole time. So whatever it takes, especially in Fed Cup.

Q. What did you think of Vania's Star Spangled Banner?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was so exciting. I wanted to clap right in the middle, but I didn't know if that was appropriate (laughter). I guess the only thing is we were to the back of her. I would have loved to have been able to see her face.
It was exciting.

Q. Did you ever hear her sing before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I hadn't. I've been in the locker room getting ready or something like before she sang, but I never heard her, so it's exciting.

Q. Your serve seemed to get better as the match went along. Did you make some adjustments because of the wind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was windy. There were a few serves there, too, where, you know, at the last minute the wind takes the ball. There's nothing you can do once you have that momentum. It was just important, I tried to take some off of the first serves. When I felt like it wasn't windy or I had a 40-Love point or something like that, then I went for a lot more.

Q. In the changeover chair, I imagine Zina had a couple words of advice for you. What were they?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Keep moving my feet, keep adjusting my feet, to just stay with it, just to play a few points in a row. I was just rushing. I wanted to hit great shots. Sometimes it's not about the great shot; sometimes it's about a good shot.

Q. Were you surprised the way she started like with no complex, started with an ace?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know. That was strange because I thought she was going to miss it because the wind blew it. She started out with a ace. She started out those first few games in the first set serving well. She started out taking it from the first shot. She would take the first forehand cross-court, take it early. I was a step late, even though I'm pretty much going to get to every ball.
She started out quickly. I did expect that because, first, she's playing for Belgium. It's totally different, playing for a team. Also she has nothing to lose. She's not supposed to win this match. And also because I think she's the kind of player who is more flashy. She can catch fire and play a great match. So I knew all those things could happen.

Q. I think you said that some of your family and friends were going to come down. Who was in the crowd today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My sister, my cousins, our sparring partner, some of the designers and staff at my design company, V Starr Interiors.

Q. Your dad?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My dad is in Louisiana. My mom is in L.A. They've seen a ton of matches. It was more people who don't get to see as many matches.

Q. How tight did you feel in the first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't feel tight. I was rushing too much. Like I said, I love greatness, but sometimes it's goodness. It was just about taking that back. I felt like if she did hit a good, forceful shot, I was going to run it down. It was just about me not making the errors.

Q. I wanted to ask you, what is this tournament like playing-wise in a situation as opposed to other tournaments that you play in during the year just because it's a Fed Cup event? Do you feel differently when you're playing in these sort of events?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Differently? For sure. For sure I think that the occasion really it can present pressure. I think also being on the team is a ton of support. So all in all, it's a wonderful experience.

Q. Do you feel like you're where you hoped to be at this point in the season after taking so much time last season?

Q. Where you want to be form-wise.
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as ranking it was at this time to be in the top 20, and I think I'm like at 22, so it's a little bit off. My goal was to be in the top 16 at the French Open. I'm not sure if I'll play enough to do that. But I'll be fine. I feel like I'm where I want to be. I didn't even start the season as early as I wanted to. I still had to pull out of events, pull out of Antwerp, Australian Open.
I'm doing fine.

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