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July 4, 2007

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for Venus Williams.

Q. How would you rate how you played?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played solid today. I think that my serve definitely was a weapon. My return definitely was very, very good.
I think when it was time, I played the percentages. When I had a chance, I went for it. Sometimes I made something happen.
It was solid.

Q. How long has it been since you played that well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I really was playing very well in Memphis, but then I had a few weeks off. Really hurt my game. So I guess since Memphis, since that final in Memphis, I was just on target there.

Q. Do you think it helps, the miles per hour board beside the court? Your opponent could see just how fast your serve is.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I serve it, and to be honest I'm not really trying to serve it hard. I just serve it and that's how it comes, so...
I'm not sure exactly what my opponents are thinking.

Q. How do we get from a first round where you said, I couldn't even get the ball on the court, to absolutely beautiful groundstrokes, very few errors today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that happens. That's tennis. That's life. Sometimes things happen and you have to adjust. On the tennis court you have to adjust quickly or the match will be over.
So I wasn't necessarily concerned that I didn't have my best day. What mattered is that I got through it. It built character.

Q. From the time when you stepped on the court did you know you weren't really going to have to adjust, that the level was going to be there all day?

Q. Yeah. Because it seemed like everything was working.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just focused on a few things. I mean, in my whole life I've been a big-match player. This is obviously a fourth round. It wasn't the ideal draw for her. For me, I mean, I don't know if I was even going to be seeded. Wherever I landed, I landed. I was going to play.
It was probably tougher for her, definitely, than me.

Q. But big match for you, too. You played her before. She won the tournament.
VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure. But for me I always feel very confident. But the only thing that can happen is if I end up making some errors, then my opponent can get in the match or they can -- I can make it a little more difficult.
Today those errors weren't there. Obviously it's much easier for me when I don't do that.

Q. You had 14 doubles on your serve the other day. Today was a different story. Do you know when you get out there what serve is going to show up? What did you do to correct it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was just over a period of two days, too. It's like you have momentum one day; the next day you don't. Today I felt like it was windy so it was really ideal for me to get my first serve in 'cause the wind was swirling each and every way. It wasn't just one way.
All in all I feel like, you know, it's going to be tough to break me no matter what.

Q. How do you feel when people saying about games play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand.

Q. Gamesmanship regarding the play with Hantuchova, Serena with Hantuchova.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Who said what? I don't know anything that's been said, so...

Q. There was some speculation that her injury wasn't as severe as it was.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, last time I checked, though, it was. I think Serena has always proved to be the ultimate sportsperson. She gives credit when it's due. She doesn't complain. She wins most of the time.
When she loses, she takes her loss and learns from it. Throughout history, Serena has been a wonderful sportsperson. I think everyone in here knows that. Anyone who would suggest that is clearly ignorant, so I'm definitely offended.

Q. Historically you've been able to maintain your confidence even during down periods from Memphis to here. You go on court, bring out your A level game.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I always believe in me. There's times when I'm not a hundred percent. That makes it a lot tougher, especially for my preparation coming into the tournament. But I always believe in my game. I know I have a huge game. I know I have a lot of stuff that a lot of players don't have.
You know, I've had a lot of blessings in my life on and off the court. There's no reason for me not to believe in myself.

Q. Is the level you had today the level you need to win this championship? Was it approaching the level of 2005?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I would definitely like to come forward more. But, you know, that ball's bouncing low. It's not always easy to move in because it's not the ideal shot. I would love to move in more. Like I said, I'm playing solid.

Q. Can you talk about what it felt like as a sister watching Serena writhing on the court the other day? How surprised are you she's even out there today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's tough, because like I want to run out there and hit it for her. It's hard. You know, one of my biggest jobs in my life is a big sister. Whatever I can do for me makes me extremely happy, whatever that is.
So it was definitely really tough. I understood where she was at because my mom and dad didn't want her to play. I'm like, I understand, because as a player you're going to give it a hundred percent.
So that way, when it's all said and done, you know you gave a hundred percent, and either you could do it or you couldn't do it, whatever the case was. I understood that.
It was really hard. You know. It's hard now watching her.

Q. Talking about injuries, Sharapova had a shoulder injury. Did you actually exploit that in this match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure what her injuries are because I've had a lot of problems of my own. I've got my own problems. Whatever's happening with another player besides Serena I don't even know because I'm just trying to stay on tour. That's my priority.

Q. Vaidisova.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Is that who I play?

Q. Thoughts on that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: We've played definitely some good matches over the last couple years. I felt unfortunate because I never felt like I was a hundred percent healthy playing those.
I think this time I'll be a lot better. She's definitely a very talented player, a great athlete, nice person. It will be a good match.

Q. When you saw the seeding, what was your reaction?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was like, Am I ranked 23 in the world? I didn't even know what I was ranked, to be honest. I knew it wasn't 23.

Q. Do you think it was right to seed you like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess -- I don't know. Am I ranked 31 or something?

Q. Yes.

Q. It's a compromise? They should have put you No. 8 at least, in your opinion? Honestly what do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, in my life I've never asked for anything. I go out and work for it. I've never asked the All England Club to put me on any court or any seeding or anything. I'm willing to get my racquet out there and play.
I was okay with whatever they did, to be honest.

Q. Your dad says he thinks you can be a champion till the age of 33 or 34. Are you aware of time going by, and do you feel you have that much left in you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I've had so much time off in my career, especially in the last few years. I've just been MIA a lot of the times, unable to play.
I definitely feel like I have extra fuel in the little keg or whatever, in the tank, than maybe some other players who have played a lot more than I have.

Q. When you were going through the injury thing with Serena the other day, your folks were saying, Serena, don't play, you're too hurt, was there a de'ja vu thing from 2003 when you had the bad stomach?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was in a major panic. It was tough. It definitely was tough. I ended up being out six months after that. It was worth it.
It was definitely de'ja vu. Everywhere I ran to, everybody had a suggestion of what Serena should do. I ran up to get her bananas. Someone stopped me and said, She should do this; she should do that. I'm going back saying, Somebody said this.
But I can't tell her what to do, so...

Q. Did you advise her to play or not to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wouldn't tell her anything. I just supported her decision.

Q. Could you talk with the big sister/little sister dynamic over the years. You came out and you were sort of stand alone, but then she obviously became a very dynamic personality.
VENUS WILLIAMS: She has a big personality. I think we're both definitely very different. But at the end of the day I think our morals and our values are definitely the same. I take a lot of pride in being the big sister.
Even when we're playing doubles, I serve first. If there's an overhead, I'm taking the overhead. Like I'm the big sister, I'm the one that's going to step it up, on the court or off the court. That's one of my primary jobs.
I'm a tennis player, but I take care of her.

Q. Are you still the one who primarily gives the advice rather than asking?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I asked her for advice this morning because she's -- well, I won't get into that (laughter). She has expertise in a certain area. I asked her for advice. We just have a lot of fun together.

Q. That area presumably would be beating Sharapova?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at all, not at all. She plays very well against her, that's for sure.

Q. You just beat the No. 1 Russian player. There is a Federation Cup match next which is a big deal for Russians as well. How high on your priority list, if you're playing, is the Fed Cup? Does it give you extra confidence to beat the best Russian player?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel confident in my game no matter what, no matter who I play, especially if I've had a chance to prepare, I feel very confident.
As far as Fed Cup, whenever I give my word, I keep to it. Even after '05, I went to Moscow because I said I would. It's very important for me to keep my word. So I will be there unless for some reason I'm injured and can't play. Even though, I'll probably go and see if I can get better.
So I feel good. I really want to win the tie for Zina even more than for myself. So I'll take that on the court.

Q. You talked about your being the big sister, being generous to your sister. If you were to end up playing her in the final and she's out there with a wrap on her leg and you know what she went through, wounded little sister, how would you approach that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Across the net is completely different, it really is. It's each woman for herself. At the end of the day, if it's Williams/Williams, what matters is that it will be Williams. But, of course, I'd like it to be V. Williams.

Q. The next player you're playing is Svetlana Kuznetsova, another Russian player. She has this very nice hairstyle she's wearing. She said she got lots of advice from you on how to keep it. Is that true?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she wanted to know how to keep it, and it hurts her. You know, I was born in braids so of course I know all about them.

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