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July 7, 2007

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for our Wimbledon champion, Venus Williams.

Q. Is this win, your number four, sweeter than the past three?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I would not give up any of the other wins, of course. This win, it's so much different from the others because the other ones I felt like I was playing in championship form from minute one.
Here I really had to focus on my game, you know, overcome a lot of challenges, including obviously being seeded low, those kinds of things.
But all in all, it's wonderful. But, I mean, the last time I won, it was a really outrageous way to win. I keep that trophy by my bed. That's the only one I keep close to me. I don't know if it can replace that trophy, but it's so wonderful.

Q. How are you feeling now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm very tired. This is my fourth match in a row. You don't expect that at Wimbledon. With the weather going the way it was, I got myself ready for that.
I feel fantastic. Obviously, I feel on top of the world.

Q. She said you're unbeatable on grass. That seemed to be the case. How different is it for you vis-a-vis the other surfaces now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This is quite obviously a great surface for me. I think I know how to play this surface also. I feel like I know when to play it high or when to play it low. I know pretty much how the ball's going to bounce.
So, obviously, if there's a surface to pick, grass at Wimbledon's not a bad choice.

Q. Does it seem to you almost like you played two distinctly different tournaments, up to that ninth game against Morigami, it was one tournament and then since then it's been another one?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't feel like that. Getting through those kinds of matches, for me I feel like, okay. I mean, she played great. In a way, maybe I was destined to play Morigami because by the time I played Bartoli I was ready for those flat, short, low balls. I'd already seen that shot. For me it was great to have played Morigami because it helped me out today.

Q. Do you remember back to your debut in Oakland in '94? Did you know where you'd be going from there? And do you ever think back to that night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. I was so excited. Just growing up, though, my parents, they always told us we'd be winning Wimbledon, be No. 1 in the world, that we'd be No. 1 and 2.
It was really a positive environment that we grew up in. The way we worked was toward that. In my mind, I was always thinking that. So when it happened, it was like something I had been preparing for. I mean, I think they were genius to put that in our head.

Q. Had you psyched yourself to be playing Henin and have to change your outlook when Bartoli won?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. What was important was that I was in the finals, and that's the one thing I could control. And, second, no match is a given, especially at a Grand Slam. Nothing is given to you. You've got to go ahead and take it.
So obviously Marion stepped it up and knew what she was doing. It was, I guess, a little bad luck for Justine.

Q. This is not the first time that you or your sister came back in a way and win again at a high level. How can you explain this? You are the strongest, so you just need to be fit to win against anybody?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think so. When we're fit, when we have a chance to prepare, Serena needs even less time to prepare than me. She's really amazing. But I think as long as we're fit, we just have so much to give on the court.
Obviously I feel fantastic. My sixth Slam. I want some more. My main goal is definitely to stay fit. Right now I'm a little taxed, but hopefully it will be like finished.

Q. This one puts you back in the top 20 for the first time in a year. At any point during this journey of the last couple years, did you doubt you would win another Slam?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no, not at all. No, never. I never would doubt myself that way.

Q. Did you feel as if you were going to be -- there was a lot of talk about you had other interests, options. Was that the key, that you were interested enough to want to win again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Was that the key to winning this tournament?

Q. Yes, coming back to be able to win a Slam.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I worked hard. There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. I started preparing slowly but surely in January. You start getting back on the court and hitting balls.
Finally got to play in February. It's just been a process, a step by step of getting healthier and stronger, just being able to get physically back to where I was, just even my movement, the way I move. In the beginning of the year I wasn't strong enough to do that yet. I had to build my strength.
It was a lot of work. I began to realize like what level I was on. I started to realize how I was playing and like how much energy and strength it takes to even move that way, and how much harder I needed to work to get right back where I was.
It was a process.

Q. Do you feel you are in a race with your sister to get as many titles of Wimbledon as possible?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Most certainly. Well, I mean, when it comes to Wimbledon, I do have more. But in the overall count I have a little less, obviously a couple less.
It's not necessarily a competition. But we motivate each other to get more. When she sees me win here she's just going to go for it. When I saw her win in Australia I knew I could do it. We just love each other and inspire each other like that.

Q. Do you think you could have had an all-sisters final if Serena wasn't injured?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that could have been a huge possibility. I think Serena, she couldn't even hit a backhand, but she was still right in there, took a set, was rearing to come back in the third.
That's the way luck is sometimes. But it would have been wonderful. I think it could happen again, for sure.

Q. You won so many trophies. Why did you put the last one in your room?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That one is special because there were so many people who said I wouldn't do it, couldn't do it, wrote me off, said I wouldn't win again.
There were so many people who just, you know, tried to put negative thoughts in my head. But I definitely wouldn't let it happen. I believed in me.
Obviously that final being so epic, being able to come out with that win as well as Lindsay was playing, all those factors were very special to me.
After the tournament I realize in my heart I wanted it more than anyone in that draw, and that's why I got it. I was willing to do it. I realized what a strong person I was, too. It really made a difference in my life.

Q. As the tournament progressed and you advanced through the draw, did you give much thought to the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I actually did not realize that. So, no, I didn't.

Q. Does it take on a different kind of meaning for you to win it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's very nice definitely. Very nice. I didn't know until now. So it's fantastic obviously.

Q. Can you tell us how proud you are to be the first woman to get equal prize money with the men?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know, huh?

Q. And do you think you vindicated the All England Club's decision to give equal prize money?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the All England Club made the right decision. I think the women, we were ready and willing to do what it took to have equality on all levels.
It was just very important for us. As I've said many times, we're role models around the world. Every single women's tennis player, we're doing extremely positive things with our lives as young people.
So it was just so important for us as an organization, right from the top with Larry, who had a wonderful game plan, so strategic. People heard us. People believed in us.
Eventually French Open and All England Club also realized it was definitely time to be equal and that it was the right thing to do.

Q. The leg problem, was it your thigh or hamstring? When did it first pop up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I strained my adductor in I think in the beginning of the second set and I wasn't going to stop. I was just going to keep going. But she stopped. I thought, Okay, Venus, this is your chance to get help (laughter).
So I thought, you know, I was running so much side to side on full stretch that maybe I needed it. I strained that. It started going up into my stomach.
I'm so glad this is the last match because I'm done, this is it, the leg is done, needs a break. I was just really -- it's just adrenaline sets in. After the match it really started hurting. During the match you can't admit that it hurts. You've got to just ignore it.

Q. Which would be the next win of Venus Williams? US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was going to say Fed Cup because I'm playing next week. I'll take a few days off, try to recover with this. I think I can. Just have to treat it very aggressively. Then we're playing Russia. So that's my priority. That's what I have next on the radar.
But, yes, US Open would be great.

Q. John McEnroe said you would be the best player ever on this surface. Considering how many titles Martina has won, does that challenge you? Is that a realistic goal?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not competing with Martina or anyone else. I'm just trying to do my personal best. Like I said earlier, I always imagined like winning lots of Wimbledons. But when you start doing it, you start realizing how blessed you are to be able to do what you do, it's just amazing, it really is.
I don't take anything for granted anymore. I did, but not anymore. I appreciate being healthy, being able to have a chance just to play.

Q. When did that change?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You learn as you live life.

Q. What did Serena say from the text message, you were waiting for the official party?

Q. After the match, match point, was Serena texting you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, she wasn't.

Q. Where will this trophy go?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't decided. I haven't thought about it. The last one was so special because of all the factors, I had to put it by my bed. But I haven't thought about it.

Q. The way you and Serena are playing kind of raises the issue of all-Williams finals again. That's something you guys have always kind of struggled with. Do you think it would be different now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. We're extremely happy to be in the finals against each other because growing up we dreamed of that, of us being on top of women's tennis, of world women's tennis, playing Slam finals, being 1 and 2. That's what we worked for.
So when that happens, it's incredible, it's amazing. I think for us there's no doubt that we can achieve these things. We just have to stay on tour.
We both are really, really even just mentally like in the zone to like not get injured.

Q. Did you design that dress?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Serena ran and got it for me real quick.

Q. Where from?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I packed it but then I forgot to bring it for after the match. She ran and got it.

Q. How do you plan to celebrate tonight?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm going to have a good time. But, of course, we'll do a dinner with the whole team. After that, who knows.

Q. The way this year started and the way this tournament started for you, is there any feeling of surprise out there holding that trophy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For me? No, 'cause I know the work that I put in. For me I don't feel like I had a bad year. I feel like I had some losses that were tough, but that happens and it makes you stronger. You learn from them.
Just even at the French Open I felt like I was playing well. But then I just didn't do exactly the right things in that match. So I knew that I'm playing well. I just have to go out there and execute. I have the experience and everything to do it.

Q. Is there any connection between your hair, very simple, your natural hair and your play, your game, which you mix up a little bit more, you give something more in your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure, but my dad always tells me to mix it up. Ultimately I like to go for it really, really hard. Sometimes the topspin really makes a difference.

Q. You mentioned Pete Sampras on court. How did he inspire you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena and I, we were inspired from anything and everything. We try to have something to be an example for us, the smallest thing or the biggest thing. We would always say that we needed to hold serve the way he did. Look, he didn't lose serve all summer. C'mon, why are we losing serve?
We would just pump each other up, do whatever it took to get to the next level. For a few years, when he was playing obviously, we would try to study it.

Q. You mentioned on court that your mother yelled at you in the first match. How fortunate were you to get out of that match, and how much better are you playing now than you were playing in the first match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the first match, I just had a slow start. I couldn't get a ball in. I was even yelling to my box like, What am I doing wrong? I can't get it in. I've had good practices and it won't go in. It was just a matter of like having a horrible day, just turning it around.
This is Wimbledon. You can't just do that. You have to do something about it and I couldn't let it happen. That's what it was all about.
I had tremendous support. They really helped me stay positive 'cause I was disappointed in myself like, Why am I doing this? Why is this happening? They just kept staying positive. I didn't experience too much disappointment.

Q. Are you aware when you click it into gear, playing at a level to win major titles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Pretty much. I think a lot of times it's determination. I think a lot of times it's not even till a few weeks after you realize exactly why you were able to win. It just kind of all settles down.
You realize, This is why it happened. I was really in that zone. No one was going to beat me. I think in a few weeks, I'll have it all figured out.

Q. Did you feel it in the Morigami match when all of a sudden you started hitting it better and you know you're there for the rest of the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just felt like I was a better player. At 3-5, there's nowhere else to go except to win that game. I had to do it. That's just what it was.

Q. When you come out against Maria, are you wondering which Venus is going to show up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like playing Maria, is the thing. My game matches well against her. I felt like that was a great draw for me.

Q. When your little sister somehow leaves a tournament, you feel sadness, does something kick in and give you extra motivation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. Before I went out to play my fourth round, Serena was after me, she couldn't hit a backhand. She said, You know, you have to do it for me. If you can't do it for you, do it for me. She was obviously handicapped. She's going to go out this and try but it was going to be very tough.

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