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June 25, 2009

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/K. Bondarenko
6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus Williams.

Q. Can you tell us about the knee strapping? Preventive? Something bothering you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt really comfortable in the strap, and it was really nice.

Q. What's the problem?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, just for support.

Q. There's nothing you aggravated, was there, the other day?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. You know, just for support. That's all.

Q. You seemed pretty comfortable today. Is that kind of match a good workout for you at this stage of a tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. She put a lot of balls back in play so we had some longer rallies. Always felt like I needed to be the aggressive one and really take control of the point. So that's really how I want to play throughout the championships. A good match for me.

Q. You said that the strap was just for support. What caused you to use it, and how did your condition change so that you did use it this time and you haven't before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hmm, good question.
Well, what happened was that I needed some support, and then I went and got the support, and then I wore it in the match. I'll be wearing it in doubles, too. So it's working out.
I mean, I think all the players might start wearing it because it's so supportive.

Q. Why did you need the support when you haven't in the past?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really hate tape - like hate. But I just needed it this time. I accepted that and I realize that this is Wimbledon. So since it was Wimbledon, I taped.

Q. What sort of pain were you feeling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Ah, teamwork. Yeah, you know, that's all you need to say, is I needed support and it worked well.

Q. It's nothing serious?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the match worked all right. So, yeah, it helped.

Q. Larry Scott gave his final press conference this morning. You were the one current player he singled out for having a leadership role, being on the Player Council for the whole time he's been in charge of the WTA Tour. Not only have you done that, but you've actually been proactive, telling him that you wanted to be involved in gender equality. What interests you, and why are you doing that? Do you feel responsible, or are you just interested in that stuff?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The funny part is I don't feel like I played this huge role. I definitely feel like a team player. There's no way I could say I was responsible for all these wonderful things that have happened.
I feel like for sure I could have done more. I think it's an unbelievable compliment that he said those things about me. And obviously I have a great amount of respect for him. We're all gonna miss him, for sure.
But, you know, I will continue to try to do more. When you look at the people before me, like obviously Billie Jean King, she started this whole thing, so who could do more than her.
So just have big shoes to live up to.

Q. Did she inspire you? When she was the Fed Cup captain, did she ever talk to you about getting involved, that you were important, and that it would be good for the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Actually, she never did. But no one loves tennis more than her, and I learned a lot from her. And we always had a great time, so...
Those were good times I'll never forget. At the time you don't realize what a great opportunity it is. But looking back, I kind of wish I could relive those moments again and probably learn even more.

Q. You did quite well in your service games today. Was your serve feeling particularly good for you today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely was feel going for me. I felt like I was mixing it up well and just hitting all my spots. So it felt good.

Q. Why is your serve so particularly good on grass?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, in previous years I felt like I just willed it in. And this year I feel like technically I'm just a lot better, so it goes in easier. I think this year that's the reason.

Q. We often talk about the gap between you and your sister, the next generation of Americans. A couple playing today, Vania King and Melanie Oudin. Can you talk about them, what you'd like to see them do here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've played with both of them on Fed Cup. Just really, really pleasant girls, very hard-working and determined. I can definitely say that about them. And they have a lot of talent, a lot of things they can do with their racquet.
And, you know, U.S. is in the Fed Cup final, and Melanie Oudin played great in the first tie.

Q. Would you like to see one of them step up and do something at a major?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously, that would be great. I think that would completely help our Fed Cup a lot. I played on a lot of teams where I needed maybe a little more help, and it would have been nice.
So it will be nice to be able to have that support if Serena or I can't play, to know that it's not just all on us.

Q. Obviously you and your sister are enormously loved by the people. Do you like going out to the other courts for the doubles and see the more common fan?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We love the doubles. We enjoy support. But the funny thing is, when you're playing, you almost don't hear it because you're so focused. Once you give up that focus, that's when the problems start.
So, of course, we enjoy greatly before and after.

Q. So you prefer the stadiums?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We play anywhere.

Q. Bill Clinton once went to watch Andre Agassi win the French Open. Would you like to invite your new president to come watch you at Wimbledon sometime?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, he's got a lot on his plate. I don't know if he has time for me. I would be honored if he was here.

Q. Your sister is writing scripts in her downtime. I was wondering what you get up to in your time off? Do you have a routine in London, certain restaurants, things you like to do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I haven't been achieving a lot this Wimbledon. I usually have a lot that I'm achieving. But this time I've just been really taking it slow, so... I guess it's working.

Q. We have all these great kids in the room today. What is the thing you like most about our sport? If you could change one thing in the sport, what would that be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the best thing about this sport is you can choose your own destiny. It's just you out there on the court - opposed to doubles. And you can be as good as you want, or as bad. Not that you want to be bad.
But you really have the opportunity to really make your own destiny. The success is your success. And then if you don't, then you have to look to yourself. I like that about this sport.
What would I change? Uhm, if tennis players could play longer, I think it would be great. Sometimes we lose stars so early, and I think it would help the sport if we could be able to play longer.
That's a schedule thing, because you spend the first 30 years of your life literally playing non-stop. It's kind of humanly impossible to keep that up. So it would be great to definitely continue to find that balance.

Q. How much longer do you think you're going to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, as I keep saying, as long as I got great tennis on my racquet, I'll keep playing.

Q. Gisela Dulko told us yesterday that as well as an athlete, she is a woman, which we've noticed, by the way. Do you feel as well as athleticism and talent and dedication, there's an important place for grace and beauty and femininity in the sport?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When I'm on the court I want the point, so it doesn't matter at that point. I'm not thinking about anything except that point, so that's all there's room for.

Q. You were talking about longevity. Is part of the reason why some players leave early not just because of the calendar, but they don't keep mentally refreshed? How important is it to keep you not burned out, have some other interests, not think of tennis, tennis, tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's so important. You spend so many hours on the court when you're young. You have to, just that pure repetition, crosses over to when you're a professional, that you just do it without thinking.
But it's important to stay physically and mentally refreshed. I definitely see at this point in my career that my priorities will change to making sure that I'm physically and mentally refreshed, and that will make my career, you know, even longer than what it has been, and successful.
So I don't remember the question, but I hope that was the answer (smiling).

Q. You talked about support to your knee. This isn't about your knee, but do you think a huge part of why you're able to play at the top so long is because of your support system? Nick Bollettieri attended Serena's press conference yesterday, and he said it's because you have the most amazing parents in the world. Do you think a support system is so important?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely. My parents, my sisters, everyone that we have on our team has been so blessed to have positive people, our physios, our sparring partners. It's really been a blessing.
Even Serena, I can't imagine playing without her. I don't think I could have done any of the things I've done without her.
It's really been an honor to have all that I've had.

Q. Much has been made of your size, your length, your wingspan on this surface. I'm wondering if there are some advantages to being short, having shorter arms, on grass?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, when I walk behind short people I feel like I'm going to fall over because I start taking these little steps, and I can't take little steps. I take big steps.
I've always been large, always been tall. I don't know anything about small.

Q. When you see other players that are small that are doing well on this surface, can you understand why that is?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Whatever you have, you learn to work with and get the best out of it. Personally, I think it's better to be tall.

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