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August 30, 2010
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
V. WILLIAMS/R. Vinci
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.
Q. What is your overall impression through the past two months getting to the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What is my impression?
Q. What is your impression about how you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think today went pretty well. It was pretty straightforward. I think, you know, during some of the tighter points of the match I was able to play really well to get those points.
Obviously I was pumped on those points, too. That felt nice. I definitely missed playing the big points and being on the court this summer.
Q. What was the biggest physical challenge for you tonight?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I mean, tennis is physical (laughter).
Uhm, I don't know. I felt solid. So, yeah.
Q. Did you feel the knee much? There was a swinging volley where you landed on the leg.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I did land on my leg. But thankfully after that she did most of the running, so that helped me a lot, yeah.
Q. Not playing since Wimbledon, did you feel any nerves going out there because you hadn't had the matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, not having played any matches wasn't ideal. And, I mean, obviously practice is so much different from a match. So, I mean, I felt like I was hitting well in practice, but to translate into a match is something completely different.
So definitely, you know, a different position to be in, but I think I handled it well. Just looking to build momentum going to the next matches.
Q. Did you feel your confidence from the first point, the way you like to feel it, or did it take some time to find that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: From the first point hitting an ace, yeah, here I am. It was a great way to start off. I felt like I served really consistently in the whole match and returned pretty good and pretty aggressively.
I mean, I love playing the night match. It was fun. Even more fun when the points were going my way.
Q. Speaking of playing night matches, you've obviously played a lot. Not necessarily tonight, but describe the vibe playing at night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Playing the opening night is a big deal. It's usually always sold out. This is the event to come to, you know, New York, the opening night of the US Open. Really an honor. I love doing it. I've had the opportunity on a lot of occasions.
Everyone's watching. They're looking for those big shots, those big plays. They appreciate the tennis and are very educated on what the game's about. When you get that applause, you know they appreciate it.
Q. Is it not so much playing tennis? Is there a difference between playing tennis and playing tennis in New York?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, obviously each court has its separate feel, so at the end of the day I do focus on the ball and my opponent. Obviously I've been successful here in singles and doubles, so I do have the experience with all of that.
Q. I know you're not match-tested because of the injury. In a way, is it better coming back at a major because it does engage you so much emotionally?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, you know, I guess my only advantage would be that I'm hopefully mentally a lot fresher and physically hopefully a lot fresher than maybe my opponents who played all summer. You know, got to try to look at it in a positive way and bank on my experience. That helps a lot because I've had a lot of winning experience. And also that I'm generally a very confident kind of player, so that helps, too.
Really just trying to take all the positives.
Q. The two years you won here you played a ton in the lead-up events and won a lot. Does that weigh on your mind, or do you think, Now I'm 30; I'm much more experienced?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Every year is different. Unfortunately I couldn't control the summer, so I'm just dealing with my set of circumstances at the moment. And so far it's been positive. So I'm excited about that.
Q. Did you have to change your strategy at all because of your knee?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really I just had to try to stay focused. Because I felt like I really kind of lost focus for a few points, and the next game I was just a little bit, you know, unfocused. But I really, you know, of course wanted to close it out in two sets. So I really needed to get my mind back on the court and just play the ball.
So I think I did that well.
Q. But you didn't feel yourself trying to protect your knee out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I mean, I do try to play all out, so maybe a little in the beginning. Uhm, you know, in matches the adrenaline always helps a lot. As an athlete, if you can play the sport, just being on the court just kind of wipes that out of your mind.
Q. How do you view this Open field this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, my view is that I need to get in my match and beat whoever's across the net from me until the point that I'm holding the trophy. That's my whole goal. So whoever that person is, I would like for me to win against her. So that's how I see it (laughter).
Q. So Serena not being here, does that mean that you have bigger shoes to fill?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I don't think it's the same for me or for tennis or for American tennis at all that she's not here. Definitely affects the doubles draw, too. So, uhm, it's not the same, but that's sport. Sometimes you deal with injury and you just come back stronger. So I know she will.
Q. Who is going to be your partner in doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not playing. I only play with Serena Williams.
Q. To what degree did doubts enter your mind during these two months about your readiness for the Open, and how did you overcome those doubts?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, I mean, the more tournaments I had to pull out of, the more I was like, Wow, what's going on? But, you know, I was just really blessed and fortunate to be here and play. I had to try to get ready quickly.
You know, under other circumstances, if I hadn't been injured I would be playing the singles and the mixed. I didn't get that chance this year, so...
Maybe one other year if one of us is injury [sic] we'll of course enter the mixed. It is what it is.
Q. What did you prove to yourself tonight, given it was your first match after two months?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, just, you know, mental game is obviously really important. For me to go out there, I think I played really consistently. I didn't make a lot of errors. Uhm, I think even less errors in the second set, really cleaning up my game. That's always important for me, to not give my opponents too many points.
So I think really to go out there and play pretty clean is obviously very satisfying for me.
Q. When you see players like Davenport and Clijsters coming back after getting married and having kids, could you foresee yourself playing on the tour if you got married?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a commitment problem. I can't commit (laughter).
Q. A lot of us have that problem.
VENUS WILLIAMS: They don't have that problem, but clearly I do.
Hey, you know, it is what it is. I'll grow up one day, but not yet.
Q. So you couldn't see yourself being married and playing on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm literally married to tennis.
Q. Are there any conversations on the men's and women's tour about the lack of American top players in the sport now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. Just more or less in the press. I think us American players who are playing, we feel like we do a really good job of holding up the flag. We've been spoiled in American tennis since really the very beginning of tennis to have so many great champions, such a tradition.
So, uhm, you know, there's a little bit of a time where there aren't, you know, five or six Americans in the top 10, but at least there's one or two.
Q. What would make you happy at the end of this tournament when you walk away?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course, I'd like to be victorious. I've done it before, and I'd like to do it again. So that would obviously make me the happiest.
Q. If Serena were here, even with your knee, would you definitely have played doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's so hard not to play. I always play. It's really hard. Especially at Wimbledon when we didn't win, I realized how much I loved winning the doubles.
I think for a while we both took it a little bit for granted that, Oh, we could win the doubles. It's not easy winning it. Committing to playing the singles and doubles and playing all those matches so...
I think I'll never take it for granted again, not winning Wimbledon, not being able to play here. Just when you win the majors, they say your name, She has 22 whatever. I like that. I want to keep adding those numbers, singles, doubles, mixed. It all goes down next to my name. I'd like to keep that happening.
Would I have tried to play? Yeah, probably.
Q. Will it make it better for your knee that you're not playing doubles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Absolutely.
End of FastScripts