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June 22, 2011

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/K. Date-Krumm
6-7, 6-3, 8-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was there a point in the match that you thought you wouldn't come off with a win? If so, when was it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, as you can tell in the match, I was very serious about trying to get the win, even down 1-5 in the first set. I really felt like if I held and broke, I would still be in there. Even down, I don't know, was it 2-6 in the tiebreak, I was still trying to win that set.
So, uhm, you know, I never, never thought -- I always thought I was going out there to win it.

Q. You seemed to be struggling with your toss a little bit. Kimiko said it may have been a strategy on your part, that you were looking to see whether she was going left or right. Is that at all the case out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. If I don't get a good toss, I retoss it. I think that's one of the first rules of serving. The serve starts with the toss. You don't have a good toss, you toss it again, so...

Q. Can you believe how well she did at her age?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, she runs down every ball. She hits every ball basically on the baseline, hard and flat. If you get it anywhere near the mid-court, she hits for the corners and comes to the net.
I thought she played unbelievable today. I thought she had some luck on her side, too, with net cords, balls hitting lines. I just thought today was a perfect storm for her to try to get a win.
Thankfully I had some answers.

Q. You never played her before. Was it quite a surprise the way she plays?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, uhm, you know, it took me a while to adjust in the first set. I thought she played well and I just couldn't get my racquet on it. I started to adjust a little bit to her game.
But she played well. You know, she took a lot of risk, and they landed. You know, I wasn't giving her easy volleys, either. They were all at her feet. She was on the stretch. Everything was landing for her today.
You know, I played a very tough opponent today. She doesn't play anywhere near her age.

Q. How tough is it going to be for you to recover from this in time for your next match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll be fine. You know me; I'm not going to be complaining about anything. You know, I won't have a doubles match to play either, which is a big difference this year, I think.

Q. You mentioned Kimiko had some luck on those let cords. Can you talk a little bit about luck in our sport.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just chance at times. The ball might hit the outside edge of the line or it might hit the net. You have a breakpoint, it hits the line, you get a bad return. That's the game. You just have to hope that's not match point against you when it happens.
In terms of my success, I would say that's not luck at all or any of that.

Q. Can you think of a really fortunate situation in your career where the ball bounced the right way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course. But I like to think that you make your own luck, that if you keep yourself in there, stay positive, keep fighting, there's bound something good to happen.

Q. Do you think that today proves if you're fit enough and stay injury-free you can play top-level tennis at 40? Would you like to be playing tennis at 40?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure what lies in the future for me. I tend to base all my goals around the Olympics nowadays, it seems. I hope to have a few more Olympics left in me.
But obviously she's a huge role model. She hits hard and she runs fast and she's extremely competitive, as you saw today. It takes a lot. I mean, she came to the net more than me, and it takes a lot to do that. She was managing to get up there and play well, so it was great.

Q. You've spoken a lot about her game. What about your game today? What were the best parts and the worst parts in your progression?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think I was able to return as well as I wanted in the third set. But I felt like, you know, I really was able to start tagging my serve, and that was huge for me, to just serve smartly and accurately, especially in the third set when everything was on serve at one point. I thought that was huge.
I thought my movement was really good and I was competing really well. Because, let me tell you, she was really competing well. On big points, she was hitting all kind of shots on the line.
So when you play an opponent like that, you just have to kind of get into that competitive mode and compete no matter what happens.

Q. Everybody is talking about her age. Back to Oakland, when you entered pro tennis, which seems like a million years ago, do you ever feel your age? Do you ever think back to that first match at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. Serena and I were talking about the junior matches right before the match today, how some players that were tough, whatever happened to them. So it's definitely been a wonderful time on the court.
In terms of feeling age, I definitely feel the experience of it all, and I think that's huge for me. The experience is very important on the court, because that's what really gets you to the win besides the skill and everything else. If anything, that's definitely an advantage.

Q. As both a sister and as a tennis player, what do you think Serena showed to us yesterday?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She played a tough opponent, someone who's basically a top-20 player. Never easy to play someone like her. She doesn't give you rhythm.
So I think she just showed that once you're a champion, you're always a champion, as long as you're always willing to believe in yourself. Regardless of what happened to her off the court, whatever it was, she still believes in her. I think that's a good role model for anyone, regardless what they're trying to achieve.

Q. What was your reaction to her emotions that she showed publicly? Very unusual for her.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I didn't see the end of the match. Yeah, it was very unusual. I hadn't realized what happened till much later on.
Obviously, uhm, it means a lot to her to be back. You never know what it's like in someone else's shoes until you walked. I don't think anybody else will ever understand what she's been through.
I think, if anything, yesterday is just a moment for people to really see what it's been for her.

Q. The Wimbledon homepage did an online survey yesterday who was the best-looking male player who played Wimbledon in history. Who would have gotten your vote?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Usually I've never liked any of my colleagues. I try to keep it professional, hence no tennis relationships. So it's probably for the best for me to stay out of this. I usually like winners, though (smiling). So anyone winning is pretty cute to me.

Q. How did you feel conditions were affected by the roof being closed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The roof was a lot warmer and definitely you can hear some echoes. So when I was frustrated, you could definitely hear those screams echoing around the arena.
But having not played this year without the roof, it's hard to compare. I thought it was pretty comparable to the previous years.

Q. During Serena's toughest moments, what were your reflections?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, regardless, she always stayed positive. I think as a family we always stayed positive. You know, when times got tough, we always laugh. So I think regardless, no matter what happens, she took it all in stride and stayed positive. I think a lot of people could have gotten negative.

Q. When you and Serena were young girls, who cried the most? Can you remember any reasons why?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Who cried the most? We weren't cryers, thankfully. Got to be tough nowadays. No, we didn't cry a lot, huh-uh.

Q. What have you learned about your game in the first two rounds here, given your mostly layoff this past year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think more than anything I've learned I'm very competitive. I've been extremely positive regardless of, you know, how my opponent's playing - not only here but also in Eastbourne. Just no matter what the score, very positive. Just keeping fighting.
I think that's going to be crucial, not only for me but for anyone in this championship to stay positive and keep fighting.

Q. And how about the level of your game? Have you made any discoveries about where you are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I feel -- I mean, I feel very positive. Especially on big points, I feel like I play those very well. I feel, you know, strong and fast, which is great. And today is a tough match. You don't really get a rhythm against her. She hits a ball that no one else hits. I never played anyone who hits the ball like this. So it's not really a normal match, per se, when you kind of get in a cross-court rally. It's kind of everything unexpected against her.

Q. Andy Roddick mentioned yesterday some of the greatest players of all time are that great because they hate losing so much. Which kind of feeling is more powerful, is it the hate of losing or the love of winning?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, winning definitely helps you win more because you get the experience. But losing is a disaster. I would say the emotions are a lot more, a lot tougher with losing, especially important matches.
They're both a motivator.

Q. Who has the quirkiest, most unusual game you've ever faced? Kimiko, Bartoli, Seles?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I've played some strange players before. That's a tough question because I need some time to think back to the weird games I've played against.
I would say no one would come to the net as much as she does. I think this is a great surface for her, too, so that helps. Most people don't play quirky anymore nowadays.

Q. You came on the scene as a junior, a very interesting time in American tennis. Who are some of the juniors you and Serena were talking about that you lost track of them?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You never heard of these juniors. You never heard of them. Just Southern California, back in '89. You want me to throw a name out? We were talking about a young girl, her name was (Nguyen Hoang?), she had a sister Violet, how tough they were, whatever happened to them. Some of the younger people we played back in the day.

Q. You were speaking a minute ago about the emotions of winning and losing. If this turned out to be a loss, even against a tough and unusual player, what would it have meant to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, when you lose, that gives you extra time to go practice and work out in the gym. But I prefer not to have the extra time. I've had a ton of extra time to be in the gym in the last five months, then the three months before that, then the three months before that. So it's been too much gym time.
I needed that win and I'm glad it worked out for me.

Q. You mentioned your love of the Olympics. Today is a big day because fans find out which tickets they got in the ballots. Apart from tennis, what would you like to see at the London Olympics?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's tough. Each event is so special because it's the Olympics. Probably maybe like USA basketball, women's basketball, something like that. I don't know.

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