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July 2, 2007

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus Williams.

Q. Another tough one again. What is that thing you do that overcomes your opponent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously everyone has worked hard to be here, but at the same time definitely one of my strong points is I'm a tough competitor and a huge fighter.
In my experience, I just always feel like it should go my way. So I guess experience helps.

Q. You put everything down to experience or do you think they buckle somehow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she played really well. I mean, she played nice passing shots. She played aggressive to come in. She hit the ball in the open court a lot of the times. She played tough. She didn't give me too many points. I had to go out there and take it because I knew she was going to go for it.

Q. You had a ton of unforced errors, I think 12, 13 double-faults. Were you not able to get rolling? What happened?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What happened? What happened was I got down 3-5 and had to correct it quickly, so I made the correction.

Q. What was going wrong with your serve? Why do you think you had such a problem with your serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think -- you know, I think I was coming down too quickly on the second serve. I think that my serve -- I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If anything, I think it helped me a lot in this match.
You know, there were times when I was down Love-40 or down some breakpoints where my serve, big first serves, really brought it back to deuce.
So for me I always see my serve as an asset. In life and in tennis, there are going to be some mistakes. But it's all about how you look at it. For me, I feel like my serve is just fine, so I'm okay.

Q. When you get to this stage, a match like that, you gut it out like that, late in that process do you sort of think back on the kind of history you've had here, performances you've put on, get fuel from that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have lots of things I tell myself on the court. But I think it's definitely invigorating to win a match like that. Especially, I think she was playing well. I think this is actually a good surface for her because she hits it so flat and low.
She's obviously playing well to get to the third round. To get to the third round of any Slam, you've got to play well. She defeated Safina. I think she was confident going in, too. So I was playing against someone confident. Definitely winning this kind of match helps me going on in the tournament.

Q. Can you talk about playing Maria next.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel good about playing whoever I have to play, especially after this match. Very excited.

Q. Specifically how is it going to be a different challenge than what you had today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every match is different. Every point is different. It's not predictable. It's not the same. The only way to control it is to play better and to stick to what you know and do it and execute.
Each challenge is good.

Q. What do you remember from meeting Maria here in '05?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played well. I think she played really well. I think she was playing some of her best tennis at that time.

Q. Do you remember her running out of gas at that time? She kind of talked about that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It happens. It happens.

Q. When you had difficult spots in your first-round match here, Serena was in the stands, was really supportive, cheering you on. Today you looked up in that direction where your mom was a few times. Of course, Serena was there. Can you talk about how you fed off that and how you got through it without her being there today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely really, really needed it in the first match because in the first match I couldn't find the court. I felt like in this match I was making some errors, but my game wasn't off. So my mom was there, and I definitely looked to her sometimes.
By the time I got down 3-5, I wasn't really looking over as much. I really needed to take care of business.

Q. It looks like your friend Hank is here. Is this the first time he's come to see you play?

Q. He's been at other tournaments?

Q. Is he an inspiration when you look? He's a fellow athlete.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, he's a fighter also. He also understands what it means to compete. So, of course, I can discuss things with him just the same way I can discuss things with Serena because we all know what it's like.

Q. It was reported this morning that you and Serena were cutting up towels in the locker room. Can I ask what you were doing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Did you seriously ask me that?

Q. Yes.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going to act like you didn't.

Q. We were just interested.
THE MODERATOR: Next question.

Q. Did you have to fight more because of that court, Court 2?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I like Court 2. Court 2 is where I've had a lot of great times, so it's okay, yeah.

Q. Your dad said he thinks you're playing beyond the baseline too much. He was wondering why you don't move into the ball. Do you agree with him?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think at times I was too far behind the line. But usually when I was really just on defense. Especially here, if you're too far, the ball doesn't come up.
I will look forward to moving forward in the next matches. I try to when I feel like I'm going to get a good hit on it.

Q. What are some of the things that you say to yourself, that you tell yourself? What do you say to yourself?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not going to reveal those.

Q. When you were trying to dig yourself out of that hole on the last changeover before you started playing really well, you looked very angry. Were you angry?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a lot of emotions. Like I say, I had my game face.

Q. Were you angry at yourself? Your expression now is quite the opposite. That's why it's so striking to me.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I leave it on the court - try to.

Q. If you're playing someone like Maria, two-time Grand Slam champion, is it more mental or physical?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think going into the match it's everything. If you aren't ready physically, it's going to be tough. I felt like at Nasdaq I still wasn't a hundred percent physically. It really hurt me a lot. I wasn't as fast as I am now. I feel like I've come a long way since then.

Q. Did you get the impression had that match gone to 6-6, they were going to call it because of the rain?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so. I don't think the umpire had a choice but to let the game go, at least until it was at deuce or something. But then when we were at deuce it slowed down.
Then we got to the advantages and it picked up. It was a tough one for him. But I think he did the right thing.

Q. Were you torn between rushing to finish it, but you still seemed to bounce the ball all the times? Were you fighting with yourself about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I had to take my time because I was serving for it. That's a huge advantage on my serve, for her to have to try to defend that. So I wanted to take my time.

Q. When you arrived this morning, you had to walk through rather unusual concrete ramparts outside. Were you warned it was going to look different?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The driver did say, but we got in just fine. I got to practice.

Q. You didn't find it disconcerting to find this sort of thing around a tennis tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I think that Wimbledon has to do the best thing that they can do to put on a successful event and safe for the competitors and for the fans. So whatever it takes in this day and age I think is necessary.

Q. How did the whole weekend of events affect you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I actually have heard about it. I just do not watch a lot of TV at all. I tend to read more books and listen to music, so I didn't really hear about it until -- I just don't turn on the TV.

Q. Today at crunch time you really stepped it up with your level. You've done that earlier in the tournament at tight times. Can you talk about why that level wasn't there at earlier stages in the match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess that I just -- at the end of the day, you have to do what it takes. I felt like when it was time, I did what it took. I definitely would like to do what it takes earlier, take that kind of set 6-2.
But I think on the other hand also that kind of competition is invaluable in this kind of tournament. So either way it's good for me.

Q. Is it annoying for you to play this type of player early on?

Q. Maria.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Why should it be?

Q. You enjoy that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I enjoy this type of competition. I enjoy being able to be at a tournament and not at home. I enjoy all of it.

Q. It's been a bit of a struggle coming back from the wrist injury since February. Did you feel like two great sets of tennis are coming soon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I always feel like I'm playing well, so yeah.

Q. But here, have you hit the level where you say, I'm going to be serving, hitting my groundstrokes, like you did in the last four games?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I haven't thought about that. I don't think about, okay, I can't do it. For me, I'm just focusing on what I need to work on. So for me it's not like in my mind that I'm like, okay, I have to play this certain way. I feel like I know how to play. These kind of thoughts aren't in my mind.

Q. What's it like spending a Sunday when you're trailing in a match and you can't get back there for 24 or 36 hours. Was it tough today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Was it tough today? No. It was easy. I didn't have any matches (laughter).

Q. You didn't have to play. But is that on your mind, the fact you're down in the second set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it was definitely on my mind because I was very disappointed I got down the double break. I mean, in that second set she had lucky shots, too. It just was at the wrong time.
I still feel like I was in control of my own destiny, but I was very upset about that. I think, you know, that maybe affected the second set and the third.

Q. When you turn it on, like you had to do, is there fear involved, the expression "running scared", that you just don't want to lose? Is there fear of losing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Personally I'm not thinking about losing at that point. I'm thinking about what I need to do. So, no.

Q. You said you read books, listen to music. What kind of music? Punk?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I listen to all kinds of music.

Q. Did you see the Wembley thing for Diana yesterday?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, my mom did turn it on. But I was actually reading a book, so... But I did like that band Take That. We were all promising ourselves we were going to get the greatest hits. We didn't know they sang any of those songs. You know, yeah.

Q. What book were you reading?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was actually learning a program called Garage Band. So I'm sitting there reading the book, learning how to do things. After that, then I read whatever I might be reading, a thriller, science fiction.

Q. Is that part of relaxing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just like to be busy. I have like these overachievement issues. I always have to be achieving something somewhere. It doesn't leave a lot of time for TV or those, yeah.

Q. Have to be doing something?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have to be getting to the next level.

Q. When you're hitting your first serve well, which you did in the third set, but you're not hitting your second serve, do you consider hitting two first serves?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do consider that. I think sometimes I'm not clear on my second. I really have to keep my head still or else the ball's all over. Sometimes add some more spin.

Q. You said how important it was that you had a chance to serve out the game on your serve. Your opponent had a chance as well. She didn't get a point on her game. Did she choke?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think she choked. I don't think she gave it away. She played well, played some good shots. But I was able to play a little better.

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