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July 5, 2007

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus Williams.

Q. Two terrific performances in a row. How is it you can do that having earlier in the tournament two worrying matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like I said, in the first round I had a bad set and a few games. About that time, she was playing well. I really did play two good players who were on. I had to find a way to get out of it.
I rely on my experience, anything else I can get: Fight, athleticism, techniques, anything. Because everyone is playing well.

Q. Who was in your entourage supporting you from the gallery?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In my box. I don't like the word "entourage." It seems a little diva.
My parents, my sparring partner, Serena, my agent, yeah.

Q. The photography thing, your father is keen with his photographs. There was a lot going on there.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think it helps him get through the match. At the same time he gets to look at the shots, see what we were doing. That's his thing.

Q. Your boyfriend as well was in the box. Does that help having him there to cheer you on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely helps. He's a great guy. He understands competition. He's very supportive. Yeah, I love having him here and everyone else in the box, too.

Q. Can you describe the feeling you get out there on Centre Court, in particular?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't know what it was going to feel like with the roof off. It looked different. Once I stepped out there yesterday, it was definitely mostly the same thing. It's definitely the best court to play on. After that, I like Court 2 (smiling).

Q. Obviously you've had some special matches out there, three championships. Do you feel a little bit like that's your court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've had a lot of success here. Five finals, which is a lot. It's just been -- Centre Court has just been good to Williams in the last seven years or so. So it's a good thing if your last name's Williams here.

Q. What is it about this place or grass that you really feel suits your game? You've been far more successful here than any other Slam.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just think by the time I get here I have a lot of things worked out in my game. Usually I'm feeling a lot healthier when I get here, I've had a chance to train, those kinds of things. I like the surface, I guess.

Q. Did you imagine you would be here at the beginning of the year with the wrist injury? Are you surprised at all to make it this far?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't know what was going to happen. I expected to be back on tour, but I didn't really know when. I feel really blessed to be as healthy as I am right now. It's very exciting.

Q. Can you take us through the last game. The second match point you basically called a board meeting before you hit that ball.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just think in the last game I played three great points. After that I think I started rushing too much. I didn't take my time. That doesn't work.
Eventually, once I got it back to deuce the second time, I was like, C'mon, Venus, this is your serve. Just fight it out.

Q. What was your first encounter with a grass court, seeing one, playing on one?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Probably like in Greenleaf in the '90s, central Florida, like Haines City.

Q. Did you play on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Played on the court. I don't remember -- I think I probably was thinking like, Oh, I want to dive, like Becker. But my first ever dive was yesterday.

Q. Do you see a comparison to 2005 when you were also recovering from an injury and came through to win.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every year is different, it really is. Every year is a new challenge. Every year you have to bring something new out of yourself.
In a way, I guess maybe it's similar to '05. I'll definitely be inspired because it was very inspiring.

Q. You've lost this season twice to Kuznetsova. Was she not very good today or were you much stronger?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Was it twice? I think I was just a lot more focused. I think the last match we played, I really made a lot of errors, just so much. I was able to cut back on those today, so it helped me a lot.
I think my return is very, very solid. That helps me. It puts a lot of pressure on their service games. Obviously, my serve is such a weapon for me. All those things really helped.

Q. Do you feel you are ready to win this Grand Slam again, or do you prefer to think step by step, match by match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's definitely step by step because I can't play a round that I'm not in. Obviously, I feel confident going into the semifinal.
But I'm just going to focus all my energy into this round for sure.

Q. You're close and protective of your younger sister. How do you feel when explayers criticize her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think there's really not many people in this world that have results the way that she does, who have been able to overcome the things she's overcome in her life, so I'm proud of her.
I just say, you know, the naysayers, they don't mean a thing.

Q. You said every year you have to raise something new. What's new this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What's new? I like my return this year. I think this is probably some of the best I've returned, especially off the first serve. I just feel like I'm going to nail it back quickly.
Every year's different. I always try to remember my experiences from the previous years.

Q. Are you seeing the ball better?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm just listening to my dad more, yeah.

Q. How are you able to produce what you showed in the last two days, given the fact you haven't played much this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm really a big-match player. I get up for these matches. I feel like I know what I'm doing. I expect so much from myself. I expect to come off playing very well.
So I think a lot of it is just what I expect from myself. A lot of it is how I believe in myself.

Q. You mentioned your returns being so good. First time I noticed how close you're standing in. Is that something new?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we've always stood in because my dad taught us that way, to stand inside the line at the very least. It's just how I was brought up.

Q. Do you do that more against some players than others?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I always pretty much stay in the same place first serve, second serve, no matter who I'm playing.

Q. You've been on tour for 13 years. What does that make you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Is it 13 years? That's nice. I mean, the first three or four years I didn't really play. I was in high school. But that was good. It was good for me to be in high school.
But I love what I do. I love my career. I love being here. It's a blessing. I just take every blessing every day.

Q. Is there ever a moment at all over the last two years where you yourself wondered if you might not, let's say, get to another Grand Slam final or win another championship?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all, because I believe in my abilities. I think I've been blessed with a lot of things to work with on the tennis court. I feel like as long as I'm healthy and have a chance to prepare, I definitely am going to have a foot in the door at the very least.

Q. Are you sensing any fear on the other side of the net? Are you sensing the intimidation factor yesterday and today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To have to play Serena or I, especially if we aren't seeded high, is not a dream draw for the next seed. I think when the players come out against us, they know they have to play their absolute best. I think they know we have to make a ton the errors for them to succeed.
I don't think there's anyone who is going to wipe us off the court. I think players go into the match knowing that they have to play very, very well. That could be pressure.
I mean, personally, that's how I feel a player will have to play against me. There will have to be all these factors that fall into place.

Q. Who would you regard as the favorite for the title here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Now, why would I say anyone else? C'mon.

Q. Does that mean you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: C'mon, my self-esteem would be quite low if I would name another person.

Q. Now that Serena is out and you're still in, how will that affect your doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We had to default yesterday. I mean, Serena just put up a wonderful fight yesterday. She didn't even have a backhand. She went Borg on her backhand, was like a one-hander almost. She was still in there. That was the exciting part. She's a fighter.
At the end of the day when you have to alter your shot that much, it's not healthy to be on the court.

Q. Can you talk about either Ivanovic or Vaidisova?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They're both very good players, a lot of talent, a lot of power, a lot of potential. They both love the game. I think they're both very similar. They both have similar games to me.
It will just be a matter of me playing that game a little better.

Q. Did Serena say anything specifically to you before today's match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't see her before today's match because it was so early. So no. She always says lots of great things.

Q. A lot of players show a lot of emotions they don't normally do because of the weather delays, getting frustrated and upset. How do you cope with it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, rain is good for me. I feel like I achieve clarity actually when it rains. The longer I have to sit and wait the clearer my game becomes to me. I just see it a lot better.

Q. How do you achieve clarity? Do you meditate?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I just relax. Just the longer I think about it the more it makes sense, the more my game makes sense. I don't know if that answers your question.

Q. You must be the only player here who thinks like that, who actually enjoys the rain.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, 'cause I think the rain has a special significance for me because I grew up in Southern Cal where it never rains. When it did rain, it means we had a day off from practice.
I've always found the rain very calming. So I think that's probably why.

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