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August 30, 2008

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/A. Bondarenko
6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations on the gold.

Q. What's your hurry out there? You're running these kids that don't stay on the court with you very long.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know what? I felt like I took my time between points. Just hitting it right, just finding my timing. You know, I think I had -- I had a brief intermission this summer with some injury, but I had a chance to really play a lot matches, play a lot of big matches, play a lot of the matches in succession instead of on and off the tour, as I have been. I think that's helped me a lot.

Q. It's been a while since you got off to a US Open start so good: Three quick matches, not a lot of wear and tear on the body.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I mean, I think that definitely the Wimbledon win helped me a lot to change my mentality, to realize not every thing had to be perfect all the time. That's helped me to, you know -- if I don't have a perfect practice and I don't get really upset about the whole tournament.
Now if I don't have a perfect practice, I know I can play. I think that helps me to relax, so I think a lot of it has to do with playing well at Wimbledon.

Q. This is your tenth Open. Are you at your very best now, or have you been better some other time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I think I'm definitely at my best now. I think I understand the game more. Trying different kind of shots, too, lately. Trying to add some variety.
I think definitely I'm at my best, especially as far as understanding the game.

Q. Can you win this tournament basically from the net?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like just running in?

Q. Well, I mean not just crazy...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, a Kamikaze mission, side mission?

Q. But it's not like you're hitting a lot of volleys. Do you think if you went up 12, 15 times in a set for the rest of the tournament that it could be yours, the title, playing that way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I get a chance, I definitely do try to come in, especially a lot more this year.
I like it at the net. I just try to play the ball. If it's short, I move in. If I have a chance, I move in.
Definitely going into the match, I'm thinking about moving forward in every match. That's my mentality.

Q. Is that your mentality?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, that's what I've been taught my whole life.

Q. But you haven't been doing it much.
VENUS WILLIAMS: But I was younger, and I didn't listen that well. It was tough. But I'd like to think now that I'm wiser I'm ready to listen to my coach.

Q. What do you remember about your first Open here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, wow, I got close to winning. There were a lot of great memories, I think.
I learned how to take some pace off the ball because. At that point I just hit as hard as I could and went for everything.
I just remember I played like a third round against Anke Huber, and I learned how to take some pace off the ball and that could help, too. Learning some things. I didn't know much about tennis. I guess I had a little talent, and that helped.

Q. Did you realize what was going on in that rung of the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't understand -- I didn't understand to get a first serve in, you know, when you're facing breakpoint. I just didn't understand anything.
So I just was playing, you know, doing what I was taught and trying to stick to my technique. I didn't understand the strategy so much.

Q. Do you remember the semifinal against the Romanian with the two match points?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's a classic these days. So I'm glad to be part of it and obviously glad to have won that match. It's great to come out on top of those epic battles.

Q. Who bumped who?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hey, ten years later I'm still not talking. I think she took the blame.

Q. The girl you played in the Olympics, Na Li, has now won three matches here. Are you surprised by that? Obviously you saw her game up close.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think maybe the Olympics gave her some confidence. Against me, I think she just started just to go for broke. That's what she had to do in that tournament against players with more experience than her.
Obviously her destiny on the court, it's up to her. That's the best part about tennis.

Q. Do you have a good feeling about next round?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a very good feeling about the next round. I saw Serena play against her. I don't know how to say her first name too well.

Q. What do you think about the Polish player, Agnieszka Radwanska? What do you know about her game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I seen her play, so I think that she likes to play consistently. Yeah.

Q. You've not only seen her, but I think you've played her.

Q. What do you remember about that match couple years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, she was playing solid, but my wrist went out in that match and that was the last of it for me until probably February the next year.
I think that was September, so that was that. I tried to slice and it was tough and she won and she played well. Still tough to win against someone ranked ahead of you, and sometimes it's tough when someone has an injury to stay focused.
She did what it took, and since that time, has I think -- is she in the top 10 now? Since that time has gone on to the top 10, so obviously she's a good player.

Q. You talked on court about how it was terrific to win the gold medal with your sister, and you actually preferred that over winning gold in singles. Is that more because it's your sister? Is it more because of the pride for the U.S.? And the second component of the U.S. question, Sam Querrey won his match today, so he's marching on. Do you have any advice for him as far as continuing what you and Serena have done to hold U.S. tennis up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the first part is since it's the Olympics, I think definitely there's a big sense of team. It's great to win on a team. I would much rather us both go home together -- I mean, obviously I tried to win the singles too, but it didn't work out.
But I'd much rather share that triumph with a team member, and then with my sister, than anything else. She might have something different to say because she hasn't won gold in singles yet. I have, so I know what that feeling, also.
As for Sam, I think he's paid his dues. I think he's really ready to move forward. He has the experience and he's had the opportunity to play matches against all kinds of players, so I think it's now his chance to do it.

Q. Do you sometimes wish that tennis were a team sport?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I like running it solo. If I have to play, I want to play with Serena doubles, because you can't loose with her.
I definitely like -- the part I like about tennis is that you work the hardest and you can choose to get better, and you can mold yourself into a champion.
Even if you aren't the best, you can watch someone else and do that and get better. So it's definitely wonderful to have that chance to control your own destiny.

Q. What was the thought process like, if there was much of one, on playing doubles here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, we didn't think we'd play it. I mean, we haven't played here historically as much because the commute. If it rains, it's over. It's a lot.
I mean, we'd love to have more titles here. We're definitely going to try to play more doubles next year. We stopped for so long. The time that we were playing we racked up a lot of big titles, so we'd like to add a few more to those.

Q. You every consider bringing back your beads from 1997?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That was last millennium, so last millennium.

Q. They were terrific, though.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, but it's kind of a kid thing, you know. When you're a kid you wear beads. You can't mess your hair up because your hair is in beads.
Now I'm a little older and I can figure it out most of the time.

Q. You showed up at Oakland in 1994 as a kid, and then we didn't see anything of you for a while until you came and made your big splash at the Open. What were you doing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was in high school. That probably has helped my career I think at this point, too. I wasn't grinding at 14. I didn't play my first full year, I think, until '98.
So I've been pro a while, but didn't really get into it until about four years later. I think that's helped me extend my career. I'm still standing, and I think it was a great choice for my parents to help me do that.

Q. You play a Polish player next round, and you have been in Poland few times. How do you remember this country, the reception of the Polish people, Polish fans? I know they treat you almost like a queen there.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think you're right, because, you know, when I went to Poland everyone was really was so happy that I was there. So, so many big fans.
I thought maybe my last my name was Williams-owski or something. Really my biggest fans were in Poland. I couldn't believe it. I just never would have dreamed that people in Poland would have thought that -- you know, were watching what I do and actually cared about it so much.
So it was really flattering, and I enjoyed all my times there. I played there quite often because of that.

Q. And you're not afraid Agnieszka can end your US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: On, I don't approach my matches that way. I approach my matches focusing on my goals for my game and forcing on the issues for my game.
At the same time, realizing that the next player wants to play well and win too, and I need to expect that challenge and face it. That's how I see the next round.

Q. Can we expect to see you again in Poland?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd love to. I heard the tournament is coming back, so I'll definitely make room. I always have a great time there.

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