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July 5, 2008

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/S. Williams
7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Can we have your questions for our new lady's champion and five times winner now, Venus Williams.

Q. Could you talk about the primary emotion you felt when you won it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, obviously that first match point she hit a serve that was untouchable. So, of course, I mean, that's classic Serena Williams.
But in that last one, I mean, I had a chance at a second serve: the ultimate opportunity. So I just stayed tough in that opponent, and she was going for it until the end.
Of course when I saw it go wide, I'm thinking, Oh, my God, it's five. Wow.

Q. Five titles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Five titles. Just five titles. It's the first thing that popped into my head.

Q. How concerned were you early? She came out in a ferocious mood, playing well.
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, this is the Wimbledon final, so of course I expected her to play that well. And, of course, I mean, she's Serena Williams. She can pull out anything. I did expect her to just be all over anything I put out there.
But I didn't really think a lot; I just kept playing, and it wasn't looking that great, you know. 3-1, 4-2, but then when it got to be even it was closer.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the conditions, which were obviously pretty awkward. I mean, you kept pulling out of your serve. Serena didn't seem to pull out of her serves at all.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was windy, and the wind kept blowing and swirling. The longer the match went on, it kept changing directions. At first, it was only windy on one side, then it was windy on both. I could see the wind blowing on her side, but it wasn't windy on my side yet.
So, you know, it was tough out there, but I just needed to take my time until I got a good toss.

Q. What is your approach to the post-match celebration on court, and how does it differ when you play Serena versus anybody else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, because I think that -- when the match is that close it's obviously more exciting to win. And, of course, if it's a 6-2, 6-3 win, the celebration isn't as elated because you're just cruising to glory.
But I was pretty excited about that win because it was so close. You know, I'm definitely more in tune with my sister's feelings because one of us has to win and one of us has to lose. Of course the celebration isn't as exciting because my sister just lost.

Q. To what degree, if any, does that detract from your enjoyment of the moment?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, you could never detract from winning a Wimbledon (smiling). So, of course it doesn't detract from that. But I'm definitely thinking about how my sister's feeling.

Q. With the exception of the early part of this match, your serving throughout this tournament has been very dominant. Could you talk a bit about just how much emphasis you put on your serve, and with particular reference to the number of body shot serves that you've hit in this tournament.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, body is my favorite here. You can't defend it, I mean, especially if -- I mean, I'm hitting it with a lot of pace. My second serve, I hit it with a lot of pace, too.
So even if my opponent knows where it's going, if it's on the line, close to a hundred miles an hour, it's tough to return.
So the serve has been key for me here. I never felt very happy about my groundstrokes here. But my serve, I felt like any time I needed it, it was putting me out of any bind.
As long as I could get a return in, then, you know, the win was coming for me.

Q. You're only the third, if I'm correct, along with Martina Navratilova and Graf, to win as many as five Wimbledons in the modern era. What do you think of that? Does that make you think, I'm up there with the all-time greats, anything like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think definitely winning this tournament so many times definitely puts you in the stratosphere, to be honest, just because of what this tournament means.
I think had I had this achievement at any other tournament it would have been awesome, but not nearly the same meaning at Wimbledon.
I think the difference is just because of the prestige of this event.

Q. Serena had more aces, more winners.

Q. You played bigger in the big points. She was 2 for 13 on breakpoints; you were 4 for 7. How were you able to be bigger on the big points?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I felt pretty relaxed out there today. I mean, when the match points came, I mean, I was a little tight, but that's normal. But mostly because her serve is so good, I'm hoping that I can get my racquet on it to be in that point. So it's a lot of not pressing too hard 'cause you know if you get a chance that you have to do something with it.
But I think I was maybe a little bit more relaxed than her.

Q. An all-Williams final. Is this a start of a second era of dominance for the sisters at the top of the women's game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I would love that. The main goal for both of us is to stay healthy. We've both worked really hard this year, and I think the results showed here, both in the singles and the doubles.
So the goal is to stay healthy so that way we can play singles and doubles and have a lot of fun with it.

Q. Besides the number of Wimbledon titles, can you let us into any of the things that motivated you tennis-wise in the recent past that raised your level between the French and now to do so well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I just feel like a lot of times I'm unlucky at the French. I come in with a sickness or injury, and I try to win, but I'm just not lucky.
I find that happens a lot at the French and the Australian. A couple of times here, too, when I had my early losses.
But, I mean, obviously coming off those losses I'm just like, This can't be my life; I have to do better. So I think that's what motivates me.

Q. When you play Serena, do you look at her as playing and African or playing a Russian that you need to trash?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. At no point am I ever able to forget that it's Serena, because I have the ultimate respect for her game and I have a lot of respect for her serve. If I was playing anyone else I wouldn't have to face what I had to face today, so it's impossible to forget.

Q. There was the critical let call. What are your thoughts on that? Could you imagine any of the other girls on tour giving you the point?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Serena is the ultimate sportsperson. We both are. I think we play, we keep playing. We don't take injury timeouts. We just play. We don't question too many calls. And I would expect from her to be the ultimate sportsperson.
I was confused as to what was happening. I didn't know if the ball was in, out, or what had happened. So I had no idea what the call was, to be honest, until the umpire told us.

Q. Have you had a chance to have a chat with Serena? If you have, can you share some of that with us?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we didn't talk so much because I was on the court for a minute there. You know, there's a lot of people in the hall when you pass by, so I'm going to see her after and we're going to get ready for doubles.

Q. Can you share what you're going to say to her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No plans. Just the usual.

Q. You now have five titles. Can you allow yourself to dream of targeting Martina's nine?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my God. That would be the ultimate. That's not easy. Her career also spanned like three decades, so I'm not sure if I have that much time. If I did, I think I would definitely dream of that.
So, you know, tennis is so much different now. You know, tennis is a big business now. You know, all the tournaments, the draws, and the players, it's just so different that the pressures are different.

Q. You seem to be able to keep yourself fresh not doing as many tournaments.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've had my fair share of downtimes. I try to stay as fresh as I can, with God's blessing.

Q. You've earned the right to go home and put the racquet down and indulge yourself for as long as you want before Los Angeles. What are you going to do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I can't wait to see my dog. I love that little guy. He's my favorite. My favorite dog ever. I have to play TeamTennis, so I'll do that.
I want to take a break from eating five meals a day. I'm gonna cut back and eat a light breakfast and maybe two meals, not five and six meals like every day I have.

Q. We can see you're getting real heavy.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I can tell (smiling).

Q. It's hard to judge when you're playing sometimes, but where would you put the level of play today compared to the other matches you all have played over the years?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, uhm, I think the level of play was really high. I think a lot of the times one of us was overpowering the other. So I hit a hard ball on the line, she can't get it back.
Or, you know, I tried to go for too much because I'm anticipating that she's gonna run my shot down. Or I hit a huge serve, she hits one I can't return.
So in between us overpowering each other we had, I think, some really competitive rallies and intense points, you know, where one player would come back and take the point, when it looked like the other player was gonna win.
So, you know, we're both very powerful, and I think it showed out there.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your morning, the day before the match. Did you spend some time together with Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we said, Okay, we're eating breakfast. We always have lunch for breakfast to stay fueled. We're both trying to choke it down. Okay, only two more matches. This is the last time we have to do this. Just encouraging each other.
Just that, you know, we're eating lunch again, two lunches before the match. It's like, It's the last time. It's okay. That's pretty much the atmosphere beforehand. Just still encouraging each other, not with specific advice like, Yes, serve me body, okay, because that'll work good for you. None of that. But still encouraging each other to eat and be healthy.

Q. In the middle of winter when your mind turns to Wimbledon, what is the one thing or vision that comes to your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In the middle of the winter?

Q. When you're far away from here.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think about Wimbledon that much. It seems so far away. I have my eye on the Australian, obviously. Just hopefully healthy enough to play, which in the last few years I've been hoping that more than anything.

Q. There were some points today where Serena really ran you from one side of the court to the other it seemed. You kept getting to shots it seems very few people could. When you're able to get all those balls, get them back strong, do you get any sense that this is demoralizing Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, to be honest, I felt like, I'm not running fast enough. I should be hitting more of an offensive shot. Why am I hitting this shot. You can do better. That's mostly what I'm thinking.
The funny part is when I see the tape. I'm like, Wow, how did I do that? How did I cover that shot? So when I do see the film, then I do have to give myself a little credit.
But when I'm out there I'm like, This is not good enough. It's funny.

Q. How did losing here twice to Serena sit with you, and what does today's experience do to those memories?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The times I lost, I tried. She put a ton of pressure on me. She hit my best serve back for winners, just was unbelievable, and she just played better. So there was not much I could do. I tried.
Obviously today I wanted to try to improve that record, and I didn't want the same trend to keep happening and then be like 6-1. So I climbed a tiny little notch up, so it's 2-5. Still behind, but I'm working on it.

Q. If Serena had won today, you being the defending champion, how would that have affected your experience?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I would have been happy for her. I would have been more disappointed that I didn't have -- about the number. Like five is really monumental. Like last year I thought four was incredible, but now five is -- I would have been more disappointed about not being able to make the history than actually not winning the match, if that makes any sense. So more about that.

Q. It's very impressive the way both of you honor your parents and bond as a family. Do you attribute that to your faith, your upbringing, or is it just coming naturally? Do you recommend that to youths all over the world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, our upbringing, we're taught to respect our parents, and also religious upbringing, you know. At least in the Bible it says that you if obey your parents all will go well with you, and I respect my parents.
I would never give them a hard time. I would never want them to worry. For me, I feel happy when they're happy with me, so...

Q. You've been training seriously or playing professional tennis for 18 years of your life now. Do you and Serena sometimes sit down and reminisce about the journey you've made from Compton, California, to the finals at Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, actually this morning I was just saying -- I was asking Serena if she remembered the match when, I don't know, I was in Sydney playing some match and Serena was watching my match and she finds out that she's gonna be on court in about 10 minutes, and so she runs from my match to go play her match.
We were just talking about that. That was maybe in '98. So we do sometimes talk about the things in the past, just some of the things that have happened have been so amazing that we definitely draw a lot of energy and inspiration from it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you all very much. Congratulations to Venus, again.

End of FastScripts

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