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June 30, 2009

Venus Williams


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


Q. 15 years ago your career started in Oakland. That night when you played, did you have any idea where your career was going, and do you remember much about that night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, I remember a lot about that night. I got to the tennis and I left my clothes on the bed in the hotel. So that wasn't the best start.
But it was great times then. I had a lot of positive feedback growing up that I would be a winner and that I would win tournaments. So from a young age when, you know, your coaches tell you that, you believe it. So I was kind of brainwashed in a good way.

Q. There was so much publicity about you making your debut. Were you a bit nervous or anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I wasn't nervous after the warmup. I remember thinking I wasn't very good at lobs. I've since improved. I remember thinking in the warmup like, I wonder if I'll be able to put the lobs up for her. That was like one of my biggest fears.
So it puts everything into perspective when you're only, what was I, 14.

Q. Do you feel invincible when you step out on the grass here at Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I do a lot of good things right. You know, that first set for me was really almost perfect. The second set I think I got a little bit impatient the first couple of games, but I was able to mentally bring it back and realized that maybe I did have to hit a few more balls, because everyone lifts their game, especially after a first set that was one-sided.
Do I feel invincible? I'd like to say yes, but I really do work at it.

Q. If you were any other player but Venus Williams, how do you think you'd feel having to face Venus Williams?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea. I guess the same way I feel when I have to face Serena Williams.

Q. What do you feel when you have to face her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You just have to -- you can't give an inch. You have to be on your best game, and hopefully she might not be on her best game, is really how you feel playing against Serena.

Q. What have you learned over the years about the number of tournaments that works best for you in terms of staying fit and keeping the level where you want to be? And do you feel the leaders of the tour understand that for each player it may be a different level of competition or different degree of competition?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you have to find that happy medium of definitely being part of a business plan that works, and also doing -- at least doing what's best for me.
Historically I think most players like to play a little more than I do. But, you know, historically I'd like to hang around in my career a little longer, too, so...
Uhm, I can only answer for me. And I really do -- I try to -- I really do try to make my commitments, but I also try to do what's best for me.

Q. Your opponent today said she tried very hard, but because you were playing so well, she felt it was virtually impossible. She said the only other time she basically feels that hopelessness is when she's playing your sister. Why do you think you've cut such a division between yourselves and the rest of women's tennis? Do you feel you're carrying women's tennis, and why aren't there people coming out to challenge you guys properly?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I feel that Serena and I work real hard. That's the first point. And, second, if it was so easy, we'd win everything. But it's not that easy.
We still, I think, are definitely the frontrunners in tennis as far as, you know, being some of the best players out there. But if there were just two players, it would just be a final. There's got to be 128. So that's the way it's got to be.
I look forward to the challenge of whoever's across the net.

Q. Did you see any of the action under the roof last night? If you did, what did you think of it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I did. I think it was exciting. The lighting, from the TV at least, it looked like daylight instead of light, under the lights. So it looked pleasant enough.
But I haven't played under the roof, so I don't know what it's like.

Q. Fancy it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This is Wimbledon. Under the roof, no roof, whatever, I just want to play.

Q. Do you pay any attention to the rankings at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I do. I do.

Q. In what respect?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That I know where my ranking is and I'm trying to move up. That's what I pay attention to. Mine and Serena's. And, you know, our doubles, because it's been pretty good, and we haven't had a ranking in a long time in doubles.

Q. There was a question about your early days. When you and Serena were emerging, was there a kind of pushback or resistance to you coming on the scene, emerging through the rankings, getting to the top?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my gosh. Looking back, you know, I guess there would be a million things to say about past times. But looking back, all I can say is that I remember that we had a good time, we laughed even when we lost, and we enjoyed it. So that's mostly what I remember.

Q. Seems to us like there are only two players, at Wimbledon at least. Does it feel that way to you? Do you feel the rest of the field are getting closer to you or further away?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it's nice to get so much credit, but I just have to emphasize that we work on it. We work day in and day out. To close these matches out takes a lot of work.

Q. I understand you work on it. But compared to the way the opposition are, you're in matches and you know how it's going, you know how easy or difficult it is during those matches. How has that balance changed maybe in the last five years since you've been winning here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm confused. What did you say?

Q. You seem to be going toward another final. I know that progress isn't easy. I'm not suggesting you don't work at it. But to us it appears that you're beating your opponents even more easily. Is that because the other girls aren't at the standard they maybe were at a few years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think that the style of game that Serena and I play, that particular style we play better than the other women. If you're talking about another style, maybe we don't play that as well.
Maybe like my opponent today, her particular style of play, I probably don't know how to play that way. But the style of game we play is the most effective, and I think we're the best at that style. I think that shows in results.

Q. How was your knee today? Were you inconvenienced when she started to chip and lob in the second set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, you know, like I said, I can't complain about anything physically or with the results. She did start to play like a little different in the second set.
I would have liked to have moved forward a little bit more, but the ball was staying quite low. So I just adjusted to whatever, whatever was coming back at me. I think it was really smart for her to try to change the strategy, because that's what you have to do when the first things aren't working.

Q. But the knee was okay?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm doing well, thank you.

Q. About the ranking, how does being No. 1, when you get there, compare to winning another Grand Slam title? What's more important?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone picks the Grand Slam, of course. When your career's over you count 'em up, so I'd have to say Grand Slam, like anyone else.

Q. It looks like it's going to be Safina. Talk about that matchup a little bit. Is it too early to start thinking about your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely take it one round at a time. Being in the semifinals is obviously where I want to be right now. I would love it to be a Williams final, and so would she. That would be great.
But if I play Safina, more of the same stuff I've been doing. That's all can I predict.

Q. You were saying a moment ago about your style of play. How would you characterize your style of play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just very aggressive. There's more room for error than maybe before, but just very aggressive. I do have strategy. Maybe it doesn't look like it, but I do. I think that's my secret weapon, that it doesn't look like I'm thinking, but I am.

Q. You mentioned a couple times you'd like to make your career go longer. Some very good players are already retired. How long would you like to play, and how long do you think your sister would like to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, we've talked about playing the 2012 Olympics. We've talked about playing doubles in the 2016, because we hope it goes to Chicago. That's pretty much where our timeline is heading. So somewhere in between.

Q. As you get closer to a final against your sister, how does that affect your interaction with her at all? Is there anything at all different as the days get closer to the possibility of playing one another?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. We still encourage each other. I mean, on finals day we don't say, You can do it, to each other.
At the same time we're doubles partners, too, so we have to be focused on the doubles court and work as a team.
I mean, we've got it all figured out at this point, what's coming up. So the key is for us both to do well and to get to that final.

Q. You talked about your own style. What about Safina's style?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she definitely plays aggressively, tries to move forward when she can, and also plays good defense and tries to take advantage of serving well when she can.
She definitely I think has a mix both games, and that's a good balance.

Q. When you walk out for that match, you're playing the top seed. Normally that would make you the underdog. You're not going to feel like that against Safina?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When I go out there, I'm going to, of course, feel like I want to make it happen on my side of the net. You're right, she has the top ranking, but I have more the experience in this tournament and more success. You know, I've been playing a little longer.
So if she keeps playing longer, too, then maybe she has the opportunity to have lots of success here, too.

End of FastScripts

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