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June 13, 2011

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/A. Petkovic
7-5, 5-7, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You must be very pleased with that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was definitely an adventure today: the conditions, falling down every other point... (Laughter.)
You know, just coming back from such a long layoff, competing against someone who has been playing so well in the last 12 months. So definitely a lot going on out there, but I was extremely excited to come back with a win.
More than anything, I just really was extremely excited to have the opportunity to play another match.

Q. Was it slippery?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know if it was me or the court, but I kept going down. (Smiling.)
The first time is a little nerve-racking, and the last two times, it's like, Okay, this is to be expected. I will just keep -- the good part is I never good hurt.

Q. No reaction from the injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all, thank God. That's what crucial is that doesn't happen.

Q. How frustrating have these last three months been for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never thought I'd be out, you know, about five months. I never thought that it would take that long.
You know, there were times when I felt like I wasn't getting better, and that was frustrating. But I never let it slow me down. I knew that eventually I'd have a chance to play. But, yeah, it did get frustrating at times.

Q. When you walked out on court for the match this afternoon, was there an element of nerves? Did you feel nervous the first match and all that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I just didn't want to get hurt. (Laughter.)
Mostly I was just like, you know, I hope to play this match with no injuries and just be able to finish, and more than anything, like I said earlier, to really play well to get another match in, which is crucial for me right now is more matches. I got through with no injuries, and that's a huge win for me.

Q. Apart from the result, was it therapeutic to come back against Andrea and sort of think, this is where I left off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was very interesting when I drew her. I know that it's -- you know, it's a tough match for her, because I'm kind of a floater right now. Obviously normally she would probably get through the first round.
That was a little bit of bad luck for her, but for me it was a great opportunity because I really did -- it felt fitting, I guess, in a way. It was just very ironic. It was a great way to start it all off.

Q. How close do you think you are to being in peak form? Can you compete at Wimbledon and get through to the final rounds?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I felt pretty good. I felt like I'm competing pretty well and just getting a feel for everything out there again. The conditions were pretty tough, too, with the wind. I didn't feel like I could be as aggressive with my serve as I wanted to be.
Sometimes you just have to be a little more conservative, which today was conservative for me. Hopefully maybe if the wind will die down it will give me a chance to really -- and to get used to the courts too, especially with the rain, not being able to hit on the grass, having to hit indoors.
So it's been a little tricky, but I feel like I'm competing well, feel like my serves are very reliable. I feel like on good points I'm stepping it up. It felt good.

Q. She's ranked 11, so she's a good player, isn't she?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, she's excellent. I don't think she made a lot of errors. I thought she played smart, took her opportunities, tried to control the point.
Maybe she made a few errors here or there but only because she was going for it. I thought she played really, really well.

Q. You got a fantastic reception when you walked on court. Everyone was delighted that you're back.
VENUS WILLIAMS: H, thanks. I didn't hear it. I was so focused. (Smiling.)
I was like, Come on, Venus. We need this one.

Q. Was there a part of you that thought, you know, when you started with two successive double faults, it used to be easier?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no, it didn't bother me at all. That kind of stuff happens, and I was still focused on holding serve.
After that I kind of got the feel of it. I don't know what happened there, but sometimes that's how it is. Moved by it quickly and that was that.

Q. Couple of months ago an all-Williams final at Wimbledon was probably a million-to-one shot. After today do you think we have chopped a few points off those odds now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's not even how I see it. Right here I think people are really into the odds and the U.S. is not as much. So I don't think that way as much.
For me, like I said, it's a victory to be healthy. As long as I can stay healthy, I know my game will just keep improving every day.

Q. How much practice have you been able to have on grass? I mean, is Eastbourne the first chance you've had?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely. I'm hitting Friday and Saturday. None yesterday because of the rain. So today just kind of -- and this morning, too. No grass court hitting before the match.
So it was a little bit tricky, and the courts we were playing on were so fast. I think when I got out there I was not ready to rally. So it was just really just trying to just get in the swing of things basically.

Q. It feels strange you and Serena are playing an event before Wimbledon. Normally it's on the hard courts in Florida after the French you're practicing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, usually we play deep in the French at least in the doubles, and so we go home and we train; plus it's been a long season of clay, five or six weeks on the road. So it's the best decision to go home and just recharge.
But this time, you know, kind of being in exile at home for so long, we were both extremely excited to have the opportunity to be in this tournament. It's been a real blessing for us, and hopefully it will go well for Serena tomorrow. But this is the perfect preparation for us this year.

Q. Do you have targets for Wimbledon, or is it just basically, as you say, being there and being healthy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like I said, like I always say, I always come out to win no matter what match, no matter what circumstances, whatever the odds are. (Smiling.)
I do come out to win each and every match. That's my goal every time I step on the court. So, you know, I might not be, you know, the most bet-up-on person to win, but I'm even betting on myself that I can give myself a good chance.

Q. It's a long time since you've been here. I think it was '97. Is that the last time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's been...

Q. Have you got any recollections of that tournament? I think you came through as a qualifier.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember that much. I think the last time I played in '98, and I think I lost. Maybe I got two games on my birthday and I lost quickly against someone.
I just got beat really bad. At the time it wasn't -- I was probably not as competitive as I am now, didn't know how to handle situations. So I have definitely come back with a lot more experience and a few more wins under my belt.

Q. Are you planning to play doubles again with your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Soon, hopefully soon.

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