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February 20, 2010

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/V. Azarenka
6-3, 7-5

Q. Pretty competitive, wasn't it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was definitely very competitive. I expected her to come out and play very well. Of course, I respect her game. Just the effort that she gives into it. Even though I was leading in the second set, she just never gave up. So she played really well. Obviously happy to close the tournament out.

Q. What advantage did you feel you had over her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously, I have an experience advantage over most of the players I play. Obviously, my serve is a big advantage for me. I think I get a lot of balls back. That helps (laughing). I think off the ground she's very strong and consistent, but I think I'm probably a little stronger than her, so that helps me to control the point. I don't know.
I don't know. So I think she does everything well, but there's a few things, obviously the strength that helps me.

Q. As you are a little more experienced player?

Q. What satisfaction is it to you to go through a week beating five players aged 20, 19, 22, and 20? What satisfaction does that give you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just don't think of it the same way as you guys. You guys are on the sidelines looking at the stats, looking at the numbers. I'm out there preparing my game. I'm thinking about how am I going to execute my serve? Okay, if I'm making this mistake, how do I correct it?
So my approach is so much different than what the press is. I'm not thinking about anyone's age. I'm just thinking about, okay, how do I win this match? So just, you know, we're on two different sides (smiling).

Q. Dubai is becoming one of your favorite destinations now then, Venus?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Obviously I've had a lot of success on the court here the last two years, and I enjoy my time off the courts too. I go to the souks and I make the best of it. So I guess by playing well, it obviously makes it more satisfying for me.

Q. Have you had your credit card out, too?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not a lot. Just strategically, and I needed to get some things for my mom. So I got a few things for her, and that will make her happy. I think she'll like it.

Q. When you were here last year, it looked like it was going to be a spring board for a very successful year for you, and you followed it up very quickly in Acapulco. But not a lot happened then. Are you expecting or hoping it will be different this time around?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think in terms of what I want to happen in the year, it didn't come out exactly the way I wanted in terms of maybe another player, this would be an awesome year.
But what can I say? I don't know. I'm thinking about this year and right now. Obviously last year came close to winning a couple of big titles, but close isn't always what I want. If I lose in the first round of the finals, to me it's the same at this point in my career.

Q. As you said on the court, one of the satisfactions this year was that everybody could play. Could you talk about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Obviously, last year we had issues with everyone being included, and we were excited when Andy Ram was able to play. But this year Shahar was able to be included. And I think that's great to show the spirit of inclusion and equality. And I know that in this part of the world they love having sport events. I know that Dubai wants to be the sporting capital of the world.
But with the spirit, obviously more events can come here. So it really just brings a better future to this area of the world, especially in sports.
So it's great to see on that road because they put on such a great event that it's wonderful to be able to see this grow. Yeah.

Q. I know you don't like to get involved in politics, but would you say that Shahar Peer playing here, that it has an inference on things outside of tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think her playing here has an influence on things outside of tennis. It's definitely a step in the right direction. I think we need, obviously, government to do what they did here, the right thing. And obviously courageous people like Shahar to have the courage to come and play and play so well with focus. So I think, on both ends, it's going in the right direction.

Q. How fit are you now, would you say? I look back to the Wimbledon finals and in that last set that you played properly. Is everything good now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm much better. I really had a hard time last year with my fitness. I learned how to manage my pain better. So it took a while, and I feel better that I'm able to manage it and figure out how to feel better.
It's not easy. Especially when you keep playing and you don't get better. So I didn't really get better. But this year I'm able to get better. So, as you see, I have no huge horrible strap. I hated that thing. I have no strap. I hate the strap. I don't want it ever again, hopefully.

Q. Is it put in the trash can then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, my God, yes. I need it in. If I need it, yeah. So no strap right now. I'm doing okay. And I feel like I'm moving better and better. And last year it was difficult to move at my best, because I just couldn't. So I find myself getting faster and faster the better that I feel.
Sometimes I get to some shots quicker than I thought. I'm like going for a slice and I hit a full shot and I'm like, oh, it's getting faster. It's so exciting. So it's good to feel better.

Q. When did you get back to 100% again? How late in the year last year or was it this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think maybe after the Australian.

Q. Not so recent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was just a curve on how to really manage playing and pain level, and keep swelling down, and all of that. And I usually don't talk about my injuries this much.

Q. No, I'm surprised.
VENUS WILLIAMS: But I'm starting to feel better, and I'm excited about it. Maybe that's why I'm talking about it.

Q. Have you changed your fitness program in order to manage that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's a learning curve. Just trying different things, seeing what works, what doesn't work. How much do you practice? How much exercise and rest and just -- it's just a lot of things that go into it. And I've just gotten a lot better at it, and you just have to learn. It was just a curve.

Q. Are you working with anyone different or any other different opinions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Lots of opinions. But it's just about staying strong and knowing how to manage the pain, and knowing how to not let it get to that level where you have a huge strap on and what that takes.
Obviously, Serena and I are dedicated to playing doubles in the majors these days. So we know that's extra strain, but we just know only one of us can maybe win the singles, so one of us has to win the doubles or something. Plus we just love the game, so...

Q. How many events do you figure on playing this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone that I'm entered in. So whatever that number is, I'm definitely going to be there unless I'm injured.

Q. But does that mean that you push yourself less hard in training?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I give 100% in training. But maybe not six hours on the court and then four hours in the gym is not really a good recipe (laughing).

Q. Would you have more rest days?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not necessarily. But I've found that rest days are important for your mental. So I've learned how to incorporate those in, and that helps a lot.

Q. Apologies for not noticing, but when did you dispense with the strap, was it in Australia?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't get the strap -- the last strap I had -- did I wear it in Dubai or Doha? Yeah that terrible thing in Doha. Yeah, so.

Q. So you started this year without it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No strap, yes, so.

Q. And hoping that continues?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hate it, so hopefully never again. No player likes tape. None of us want to wear it. But the strap really was just ugly, and big, and just bad.

Q. Made that even worse than pasta?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, boy, I hate pasta worse. Can you imagine? Wow. All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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