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January 17, 2008

Venus Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Looked like a tough match on the score board. How did you assess it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely got to hit a lot of balls. She plays a really feisty game, brings a lot of balls back, and a lot of balls low. And she was definitely on her best tennis today. So she played well.

Q. A few unforced errors?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I had a few.

Q. Why was that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I guess I made some mistakes.

Q. Is that the sort of game you need to bring you to your top, progress further in the championship?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, to be honest, at this point, I feel like I know how to play tennis. And whether or not I have my best match or a match that's not so good for me is not something that worries me for the next round.
So either way, it's just important for me to get to the next round. I feel like I can always play better, even if I play well.

Q. You play Mirza in the next round. What you do you know of her? Have you played her before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, actually, I have. A little while ago. She's a good player, also. She tries to play aggressive. Looks like she enjoys herself out there.

Q. Venus, there was a lot of breaks of serve in the match. Were you concerned about your serving?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. Like I said earlier, nothing worries me anymore. I feel like I know how to play. If I make a few mistakes, I'm not going to freak out.
I'm fine. I feel good.

Q. That kind of match is a good test for you, don't you think, because she makes you play a lot of different shots, you use different parts of your arsenal?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she definitely played well. And at first, I think I wanted to rush a little bit too much. But finally, later in the second set, I finally realized, Whoa, she wants to run. Well, let her run. So it became a side-to-side kind of thing, I finally got a little smarter in the last few games, I felt.
So all in all, it was fine.

Q. You've been coming in a lot, which happened last couple years. Looks like you're much more comfortable at net than you were, say, a decade ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely, because I don't like practicing my volley. I never did. Of course, you don't want to come to the net if you don't. Practicing volleys is kind of boring.
So last time in the off-season, the first thing I did is I practiced volleys, no excuses. So now I come in more because feel like volleying because I practiced it.
I definitely will be at the net a lot more this year.

Q. Practicing against hard hitters all the time when you play. Against Camille, she has a soft serve. Must be hard to get used to that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. Even for us, like when I'm warming Serena up, I'm trying to hit soft, it's hard because I don't know how to do that. I'm always saying, Softer, softer. And they are missing because they don't know how to hit the soft ball, which is a different kind of ball. If it's soft and low, then you have to adjust. And just because it's slower doesn't necessarily mean it's easier.

Q. She gave Sharapova a hard time last year. I don't know if you saw that match. Why does she give people a difficult time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think she'll challenge anyone that she plays. You definitely have to beat her. She brings the ball back no matter. You have to hit that winning shot. And she can pressure you into hitting it a little too close to the line.

Q. I don't know if you talked about this on Day 1, but can you talk about what happened towards the end of last year when you were forced to pull out of The Championships and you were get getting those dizzy spells. What did the doctors actually say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't talk about that very much. I try to let it be the past.

Q. But is it something that is going to continue to affect you, or was it just a one off or...
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope to God not.

Q. You don't want to say directly? Because there was some reports out there that it might have been anemia.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't really like to talk about it, to be honest. I just -- yeah, that's all I have to say.

Q. Venus, I'm doing a little feature on Mark Hlawaty. Can you express a couple of words on what he means and how he fits in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He's great. We're all jokesters. We all laugh and joke. We all, you know, make fun of ourselves. So he fits right in. He works extremely hard. I think he really cares about Serena and I. I think he loves tennis. And right now he has, like, really great hair. So Serena and I were both very upset. It was funny, because as soon as I got here to Melbourne, I was like, Your hair is great; I hate it. Serena said, I said the same thing.
It's funny. We have a lot of fun with him.

Q. What's making his hair great?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We don't know why it's happened. He let it grow out. He said it grew like that. We said, Are you serious? It's not fair. It's the perfect color, the perfect cut. This can't be right.
But, you know, it's good fun.

Q. Fashion things aside, he's pretty handy as a hitting partner, as well. How important is he to you girls?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He's great. He brings a lot of balls back. He can adjust his game, depending on who we're playing. And he really is, you know, on our side. No matter I think who he is with, I think he works hard for.

Q. Venus, I saw your sister's blog yesterday and she said she read 'Who Moved My Cheese'. Do you read books like that or did she try to get you to read it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I read that book. My dad told me to read it. And I think he told her to read it, too. And I read it like around '05 Wimbledon, and I was, like, praying for some inspiration. So then I read the book. And I was, like, Okay, God answered my prayers.
Whatever you can be inspired from, I feel I can learn from anything. I haven't read it in a couple years. She keeps quoting it.

Q. There aren't too many big hard court titles that have eluded you in your career, if any. Do you bring that kind of awareness into a tournament like this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A little bit. Maybe a little bit, especially since I didn't get to play last year. So definitely a little bit. But, I mean, I definitely have the ability to win. That's the good part. So I feel positive in that way.

Q. How do you feel about television commentators making comments about your rear-end? I mean, not in a negative way.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think Serena is the Williams sisters that is famous for her derrière. She makes all kinds of songs, Kanye West and Snoop Dog, all kinds of things. She's renowned. So I guess I'm getting a one-up on her, maybe. (laughter.)

Q. You have a doubles match coming up in a little while. How important is that in the scheme of things? Are you trying to win in the doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We're very serious about the doubles. We love doubles. Recent years we haven't been lucky, so we're like, Okay, let's get through the singles. But we love playing with each other. Nothing like playing with Serena. It's like playing with myself. So it's amazing.
And we love winning the titles. I mean, when we were playing doubles, we were racking them up. Grand Slam titles are wonderful things to have. We hope we get to play more. We definitely are going to try to play a lot this year.

Q. When you came on the circuit a decade ago, you were only surrounded by your family, your sister. You didn't have too many friends in the circuit. How this has changed in the last 10 years? Do you have other people you like to see outside of the tennis court, even if they are tennis players, or you never see them?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's a little bit hard. No one lives where I live, so in that way it's a little bit challenging because everyone goes home after the tennis, you know.
So I'm definitely friendly with a lot of girls, but it's not like we live in the same area, and that makes it challenging.

Q. In the locker rooms, they're more friendly or let's say people you have lunch together here if you have a chance or not?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. The girls are really nice. Everyone's nice. I haven't met one, you know, person that was mean or that, you know, totally gave me the evil eye or something.
Everybody's, you know, happy in the locker room. I mean, you lose, not so happy, but everyone gets along.

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