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July 2, 2009

Venus Williams


6-1, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for Venus Williams.

Q. Was that one of your easiest passages through to a final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, it was very successful for me. I was really pleased with my form. Of course, playing against the No. 1 player in the world, it's exciting to play so well.
So, I mean, obviously I had to work hard for it, but I was able to do a lot of the right things today.

Q. Was it near perfect?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know what, uhm, I don't know if there's such a thing as perfect for an athlete, but I felt happy with it. And I felt like my performance has been building each round better and better. So it felt good to play even better today.

Q. Today do you think you were 6-1, 6-Love stronger than Safina, or something happened to her? The score is very strange.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like the score, so... Be honest about that.
But I think the score just showed my level of play. I was just dictating on every point. And I think when she had some opportunities to make some plays it was hard because there was a lot of pressure on her.
You know, I think it was just hard at that point when she had some opportunities, you know, and she wanted to make the best shot that she could, and sometimes that's too hard.

Q. How much of Serena's match were you watching before you went on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I didn't watch it. But I was watching the score. I had to watch the score because I had to be ready, so I was watching the score.

Q. That's all you knew about it, was the scoreboard changing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I did watch the first games in the set until 6-All, 'cause they had it on in the training room. I was getting taped.
But, uhm, you know, it was -- I had to turn it off.

Q. How hard is it to prepare for your own match when you're waiting to go on, it's a long match, your sister is playing, the score is going back and forth. Things must be going through your mind.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's hard. It's really hard. I prefer to be the first match on, to be honest, but I didn't get that luxury. It was just -- it's really hard. Definitely really hard to watch the score. I wasn't even watching the match.

Q. On a separate note, would you expect Andy Murray to win Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just don't know. I just don't know. You got to ask someone else.

Q. Five titles. You've won six matches. How well are you playing compared to previous years?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my gosh. It's really hard to compare. And I do think I'm playing well. It's hard to compare really.
Anyway, so, I don't know. Obviously I've been playing really well all the other years I won.

Q. Do you feel there are any kinks you have to get out of the game, or is everything kind of clicking in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: There's no time for kinks right now. There's not even time to think about kinks. You have to play and play well, and that's what I'm expecting in this final.

Q. You beat the computer today, the computer system, beat the No. 1 in the world 6-1, 6-Love.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know what, I did. I guess that's a good way of putting it. I mean, I'm not the No. 1 seed. I shouldn't be expected, I guess, to win this match.
But obviously my record on grass, I think, and my experience, helped me a lot today.

Q. Do you think the system must be changed for the qualifications?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For the rankings? You know what, it's too early to say. We have to go on and see how that works this whole year, because the ranking system is new. It's too early to say right now.

Q. It should be based on the big four or...
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't given it a ton of thought, how it should be based. So for me to comment on it now would be too soon.

Q. This isn't your fault obviously because you played really well, but it's embarrassing for women's tennis to see the No. 1 destroyed in that way, isn't it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Why do you put it like that?

Q. You played very well.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Are you trying to be down on women's tennis?

Q. I'm trying to be down on the way that Safina is the world No. 1 representing women's tennis.
VENUS WILLIAMS: So you're trying to be down basically.

Q. Not on women's tennis, no.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay, because I don't deal with down at all.

Q. It's not down.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just making sure you're not trying to be down, because I respect Dinara Safina immensely, and I think you should, too.

Q. I do.

Q. When you see the No. 1 losing 1 and O, it doesn't look great for women's tennis, does it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think women's tennis is fantastic.

Q. I gather you've now joined Twitter. Serena has obviously persuaded you. You said you celebrated your last win with cranberry sauce.

Q. Well, no. I was wondering how you're going to celebrate this one.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Cranberry sauce. I'm actually a candy addict. That's the closest I can get to, like, sugar, is cranberry sauce and raisins. So those are the two things that when I celebrate, it's with cranberry sauce.

Q. Just on its own?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. It's a little strange, I know. I happen to like it.

Q. It's another final against your sister. Can you talk a little bit about how the matchup between you two changed during the years.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I know. It's just been an hour since the semifinal and I'm still enjoying that win, obviously playing in great form. I have to get my mind shifted to the final. Even before the final, like the doubles semifinal. So there's all these places my mind has to go beforehand.
But, I mean, just playing Serena Williams, the immense respect. Even if she's not playing her best, just that fight she has, you're facing that. So there's so much to face when you play her. It's definitely a lot to get your mind around.
So for me I'll be focusing on getting past the player and the fight in the final.

Q. Is it different playing today than five years ago, ten years ago? Is it becoming easier?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's different because we're different players. We both play such a similar game. I mean, we had the same teacher. But what I can tell you the same is the respect that we have for each other on and off the court is the same.

Q. Dinara was very one-dimensional today. When she started to miss her range, at what point did you think you had it? Was it quite early on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought I had it when the last point went into the net. It's so important not to lose focus. I mean, Dinara, I'm sure you saw, she's trying a hundred percent until the match is over. And she's good at coming back and getting back into the match.
So, you know, I didn't take anything for granted. Like I said, I think she started missing some because, you know, each shot I hit had a lot of pressure to it. You know, so I think she just tried for too much sometimes.

Q. Did it surprise you she didn't really have a Plan B today? She didn't mix it up, vary her strokes at all really.
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's really good at what she does. I mean, you can see that she does have -- I believe she has two games. She can play great defense and she can play great offense when she has a chance.
Today I feel like I was just dictating and she didn't have as many chances as she would against another player.

Q. In Serena we see this incredible fight, this incredible intensity, which is unique for tennis, and all of sports really. Can you give us one example of where you've really seen this intensity either on the court or off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just remember a long time ago, we were playing in Sydney. I think it was still at White City. I think she was playing Davenport, who at the time was at least in the top five or maybe higher.
We were just coming on tour. It was about maybe 1998, and she was just down 1-6, 2-5. I was playing after, yet again. I'll just never forget. She came back and won that match. It was so intense. I just learned so much from that, her fight.
I think that actually had a huge impression on my career, that one incident actually. We saved the article. It was called White City's Great Escape. Afterwards I would read it with an Australian accent. You know, we'd read it over and over again, about how she overcame all the odds and won that match.
I mean, that's classic Serena Williams, so... It was a huge lesson for both of us.

Q. Do you ever tell her to chill out or do you just leave that alone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I never tell her how to react, even on the doubles court. I let her do exactly what she needs to do. We just encourage each other. What works for her might not work for me, but just got to go with the flow.

Q. You've spoken about the separation of your dad as a parent and as a coach. Can you talk a little bit about how you separate Serena as the sister and then as the rival?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's real easy to separate it when you get a serve at about 127 and it comes back as a winner. You soon realize you're playing against an awesome player, and you better really get ready on your toes. So that's exactly when you separate it.

Q. How is it different winning a Grand Slam semifinal to reach a Grand Slam final you're going to play against your sister as opposed to a Grand Slam final against any other opponent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It is different because I'm happy for her to be in the final, but I have to face her and defeat her. I don't necessarily want her to lose, but for sure I want me to win.
Maybe that doesn't make sense. But when I'm playing someone else, for sure I want them to lose. I don't like to ever see her disappointed in any way. But at the same time, I don't want to see myself disappointed. You know, I need to get my titles, too.
So I'm still the big sister, but I'm still gonna play great tennis. So it's definitely completely different.

Q. Would you rather play with someone else on Saturday, not your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I definitely wanted her to win today. It's like if she didn't win or if I didn't win then the dream doesn't come true that we're both playing in the final. So I definitely want to play against her, because the dream has come true for both of us and for our family, too.

Q. Are there any other games or activities outside tennis that you compete against your sister at? And who wins?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we're not so competitive off the court. She tricks me a lot, but I get hip to her tricks.

Q. What kind of tricks?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like we could be in the store trying something on, and she'll be like, No, that doesn't look good. As soon as I put it down she tries it on, but I got hip to that.
So soon there will be another trick that I have to get hip to. So I don't mind. It's so funny.

Q. Does your head-to-head record against her matter to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. Yes, I do like to be ahead, even though she's my sister. I do. I don't know where we are now.

Q. You're 10-10.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's intense, huh? I guess this will be a tipping point match. You know, my hope is that there will be many more to come.

Q. Is the key for you tomorrow against Serena going to be making her play balls and stay in rallies when you know it's going to be coming back at you hard? Last year she came out roaring and won the first three games quickly. You hung in there and got control of the match. Do you see that as being a key in the final, as well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I honestly haven't thought about the keys yet. I've just started to think about it a little bit.
Ultimately I'm going to have to play better. I'm going to have to play better basically. I know that for sure. That's the one thing I do know going into it. You know, I'll develop my strategy the next coming days.

Q. At one stage early on, your father said that Serena would be the better player of the two. Were your feelings hurt?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. He was doing his job. You know, he was like dad and coach and promotor. So the thing is everyone was always saying, There's never been two siblings who were great. It's not even possible for her to be great. Obviously she didn't believe that. None of us did.
So my dad, of course he believed in her and he did what he needed to do.

Q. The shocking news came out in Paris that you had the smaller room in your dwelling. What about here? Who has the better room? Does she always get the best digs?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I happen to have the bigger room.

Q. Here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Here. No, in the States our room is exactly the same.
But I always defer. She picks first. It makes me happy. You know, I want her to pick.

Q. How will you spend tomorrow evening? Will you hang out with Serena? Do you prefer to be on your own?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just do whatever I need to do, yeah, basically. I haven't planned it out yet.

Q. Before a match, you have to play her in the final. Do you want your own space to get away from her maybe or...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, like I said, I haven't planned it out. You know, everybody asks that for a thousand years. I'm sorry. It's a little redundant for me. I'll just prepare as normal basically.

Q. Level of excitement compared to the first time you reached the final is what?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my gosh, always exciting. This is Wimbledon. You're a tennis player yourself. You know what that means. So this is never something I've ever taken for granted. It's not easy.
I am very excited. I feel very calm actually. But, of course, I'm going to bring the tough feet to the court.

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