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June 30, 2008

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/A. Kleybanova
6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Can we have your questions, please, for Venus Williams.

Q. You must be fairly happy with the way your tournament's progressed so far. Haven't dropped a set. Going quite nicely.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm actually pretty excited. I did lose serve today. I was almost not about to lose serve. And I think that's four times this tournament. So I try to keep it to a minimum. That always helps.
But, yeah, I'm happy with the progression. Every player's challenging. I didn't know what she was going to do. I'm very happy to have gotten through.

Q. What did you make of the top seeds dropping out, and how do you explain it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because the reality is that every player is ready to play, especially at these slams. Everyone comes out with double vengeance, so you just have to be ready.
Every match is not a given. The matches that you win, even if it's an easier score line, you do go out there and you work for it. So you just have to play better on that day.

Q. Were you disappointed to see that you were playing on Court 2?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, there's not too much that I'm going to say about that in press. I think that obviously, no matter where we play, we realize we have to play well. That's pretty much all I have to say.

Q. When you get the opportunity to play your sister, what are the pros and cons? What is the balance of excitement because it's just the two of you out there, versus the negative aspects?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think the best part is that I love having her here and I'm always sad when she leaves and she's gone. It's not the same. I think that's the bad part of both of us not being here to the end.
And the best part is that we're both in the finals. You know, both of us have an opportunity to live our dream, so for us it's a plus.

Q. What are your memories of what you last competed against one another here at Wimbledon in a final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I had an injury, but I still came really close to winning. I guess if I would have had that extra something I could have done it.
But ultimately it was an awesome time for us and our family, and I think also for tennis.

Q. How late this week will it have to be before it goes through your mind, if it's not already, that this could happen again, especially with all these other top players falling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I'm extremely focused at this point on the doubles, and, of course, tomorrow on my quarterfinal.
I realize that nothing is a given. If it was, then every single seed would be lined up ready to play each other now, but it's not.

Q. Can you understand if neutral outsiders, they worry if it brings out the best in each of you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm not really worried about that. No, not at all.

Q. Not your concern?

Q. Can you see why to other people that might be the case?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't get all involved in that. That's not my everyday, wake up in the morning, like, Oh, my God, what is that person thinking? Definitely not.

Q. Do you think it brings out the best in you when the two of you play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that we both play really similar games, and I think that we play against each other a lot. So, yeah, it makes it easier for us to know who's going to do what.
But at the same time, we both can pull a shot out of our, you know, anywhere. So we're both being on our toes for that. I'm mostly thinking about trying to win.

Q. When you saw that draw and you've been put on Court 2, the graveyard of champions, was that fear in your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I've played a lot of matches out there, a lot of matches last year out there. The court does play differently than the other courts. For me it was just really focusing on that and taking that into effect when I was playing today, into account.

Q. On the scheduling, it may not be anything personal against you, but it seems some of the top women - Jelena Jankovic was on Court 18 - have to play out and around the courts, whereas certainly Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are never asked to leave centre and No. 1.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you said it. It's true.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your quarterfinal against Tammy. You've never lost a set against her in six previous matches.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously she's playing well here. She's just marching through to the quarterfinals. I have not seen her play this year, but I have played her a number of times.
I think I'll be more prepared as far as knowing how my opponent plays than my first four opponents. That makes it a little bit easier, I guess.

Q. It seems like at Wimbledon you manage your game and your emotions and your nerves better than you do in any other place. Can you just talk about that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just love playing here. I love it here. It's what I like best. So I think that helps, that I just love it here. It's just that simple.

Q. Game-wise, too. Last year you had some problems in the first week. This time you've had a couple sets that were fairly close, but it seems like you know exactly what you need to do at the right times. Can you talk about that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, Serena says all the time that if you pick a tournament to win it should be this one, she says. I wish I would have picked this one to win so many times.
So I guess this is a tournament where I'm really, really go for it and really do what counts. So I think consciously and subconsciously, that's what it is.

Q. On your last match point you really took it to her. You came into the net. On the previous match points you've stayed back. She hit a couple big winners. Is that sort of knowing what to do at the right time and taking it to her in that situation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Today, you mean?

Q. Yeah, today.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, in that last game she did hit a couple winners. She brought the level of her game up. Obviously, she realized it was either then or not at all.
So it's nice playing, I guess, in some ways in that situation because the competition is what you practice for, what you've trained for. It's always even more exhilarating when you come through it.
So for me it's just, of course, finding that balance of what to do and playing the ball.

Q. You mentioned you liked it here so much. Could you go into a bit more detail of what you do like.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like the surface. I think I like the fact that this is the most important tournament in tennis as far as history and I guess prestige, and it's just wonderful to win here. This is the place to win, so I think that's really what it's all about.
It's a nice and relaxing feeling actually being here, even though it's on the biggest stage.

Q. You spoke a minute ago about the similarities in your game with your sister's. How about on the other side? When you see Federer and Nadal, what impresses you most about the differences? If there are any similarities, what do you see as the similarities between those guys?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think Federer is so confident, and he brings it out with him on the court. When it's breakpoint or game point he's got that edge because of that.
And Nadal, I love his tenacity. He just never stops trying. It doesn't matter what point it is. He's just trying so hard, so I love that about him.

Q. Is there anything atmosphere-wise that you like about playing on Court 2, which is kind of a more intimate kind of setting?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm actually really tall, so I feel a little cramped (smiling). Will I have room to move my legs around?

Q. There's less of a back?
VENUS WILLIAMS: There's a lot of back. There's less side, yeah.

Q. The women's tennis this year at Wimbledon is just amazing. Are you excited about the depth in women's tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm excited about my advancement, every step closer towards closer to the final. That's what I'm excited about. In general also I'm pretty excited at any tournament where I'm playing well.
A little less focused on what my opponents are doing. Just more focused on my results.

Q. The crowds are going out to see the women. Like at 18 they were queuing up to get in there.
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's awesome. That's awesome.

Q. Do you and Serena sort of see like you're flying the flag for America against these eastern Europeans?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we don't see it that way. No.

Q. How well are you playing compared to last year? At this stage, I think you weren't feeling too well.

Q. How well are you playing this year compared to last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What was the end you said?

Q. Because you weren't feeling too well. There was a period last year where you weren't feeling too well.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, well, I like to think that's behind me and that I only feel great and awesome and only be healthy, only win from now on.
But I've tried not to compare my game from this year to last year, 'cause obviously I was playing so well last year. To play at that level is tough, so every year's different, every opponent's different.
I focus on that mission at that moment and not try to compare anything at all.

Q. Nadia is playing in your clothes. Do you find yourself pulling for her, pulling for the line?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, actually. I think she looks really good. So, yeah.

Q. So who gets the better outfit if you happen to play in the semifinals?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think there's things that she feels comfortable wearing, so that was important because there were things I think that she didn't like as much. So I think that she likes what she's wearing now.
In EleVen I love pleats, so pleats are always in the line. It's kind of a motif that's continuing. So she's in the pleats and I'm not, but, of course, throughout the year there will still be pleats.

Q. How much of your presence, your success here, is mental? You like the grass. All of a sudden does your whole mental outlook change when you come here and you feel much more relaxed and confident than other tournaments?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I probably feel more relaxed here. There's no super secret, I guess. By the time this tournament comes around it's also six months into the season, so kind of honing my game at this point.
I think that's really a lot of it, too. By this point I really kind of worked out any errors. A lot of times I'm feeling healthy, or if I haven't felt healthy in the beginning of the year. I think a lot of times it just culminates here.

Q. We were talking about the rescheduling. Is it something you'll talk to the referee's office about?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, you guys want to know everything about that. Let's keep it on the real real. I'm here for the tennis.

Q. This is where you're being asked to play your tennis as defending champion.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm here for the tennis on all courts, so I'll be going back out on Court 2 to play my doubles. And I'm, yeah, hoping for a win then.

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