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August 29, 2011

Venus Williams


V. WILLIAMS/V. Dolonts
6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.

Q. It looked like you were consciously aggressive, trying to come into the net as much as you could once your reined in the forehand. Was that the game plan, to serve and volley?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I'm not really a serve and volleyer, but I'm an aggressive player and I do enjoy moving forward. If I can get the opportunity to do so, I do try to.
So, yeah, I like to move forward.

Q. Did you know what to expect from yourself today after the long layoff?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. It's always nerve-wracking to play the first match after a layoff in a major. It's not really my first choice at all.
But I just tried to rely on experience and, I don't know, just tried to get after it. So I was pleased with the level.

Q. What's the hardest part of your game when you're coming back from that kind of layoff without a match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely just finding the rhythm in points I think in this particular time has been the more difficult part. Just kind of hit the ground running, getting ready quickly for this tournament.
I think just the lack of points. I think I'm the type of person that might tend to rush points, so for me it's not rushing too much.

Q. Is your stamina all the way back from the illness? Can you play a long match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think I can do what it takes, but I guess I'll have to see. I think I'm okay.

Q. When did you return to full-fledged practicing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Last week (laughter).
You know, I was able to stay on the court only because my anxiety was high if I didn't play. I was able to hit balls, but it wasn't like a real practice.
In fact, my mind wasn't there. Let me try to make it to X number of times. Let me try to get to that. When I was done, I was so excited to get off the court. At least staying on the court helped me keep some rhythm.

Q. Was it a cold kind of illness? And energy-sucking illness?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was just energy-sucking and I just couldn't play pro tennis. It was disappointing, because I had huge plans for this summer, of course, to improve my ranking. To miss out on all those points was definitely devastating. Just to miss so much time off tour was just disheartening.
But I'm just really excited to be back.

Q. Was there an official diagnosis or a name for it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, there was.

Q. Which is?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's outside of the press room, that name.
But it's good to be here.

Q. If this were any other tournament but a major would you be here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point I'd be at the 50,000 challenger where I live at. I'd be at any tournament that I could play. I just want to play tennis. It doesn't matter what the tournament is, I just want to play.
Obviously the Open is huge, but I just want to play.

Q. How would you characterize this season? This is your fourth event of the year.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's like my fourth event in 12 months. You know, I just need a chance to play. So the season hasn't really even started yet for me. It's been like a blip here and a blip there.
Sort of nice to get some momentum for the rest of the year, whatever I have left.

Q. How much of a chance have you had to practice since Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, you know, I just got on the court and I would hit balls kind of standing still a lot. Just hitting balls, just trying to keep some kind of rhythm.
But, you know, it's not the real deal until you can really have it.

Q. What about the last week, week and a half what have you been able to do? You had good rhythm tonight on the serve and even your groundstrokes were pretty accurate. You must have been getting some practice, huh?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had to get ready fast. I had to get ready fast. But, like I said, I did stay on the court. I couldn't do a lot, but I stayed on the court. You know, I would bargain with myself and say, Okay, you'll be happy when your serve is great. So I had a basket of serves.
I would be like, Okay, this is going to pay off for you, and so it has. I tried my best to do whatever I could. I was just in do-the-best-I-could mode. It was important to be on the court maybe four days out of the week.

Q. Did she surprise you at all the way she played early? Seemed like she was hitting every line, considering her circumstances.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really know about her circumstances until I walked on the court. I'm not sure what the details are of that, but definitely not ideal.
But, I mean, no matter what, you have to come out swinging. I think she did well. I thought she was hitting the corners. Definitely kept me on my toes.
Especially in a first match back it's definitely nice to have some kind of push, someone to challenge, so it was great.

Q. Did you expect you would be quite as sharp as you were tonight coming back first match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't really know what to expect. I was just going to try very hard. I'm not sure I expected to be so sharp. In some ways I expected to be sharper because I know I can play tennis.
It's in general just a really high expectation of myself.

Q. Was it more mental or physical, the enthusiasm that you felt? Was it the fresh legs or the fresh brain?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just all of the above. Of course, this major means a lot to me being at home. There's a certain amount of expectation I have for myself here, so it's just an honor to come out and play first night match. I like that.

Q. You've described the enjoyment and how being away has in some ways increased the enjoyment of now being back. How about confidence? How long does it take to build up the confidence, and where are you right now in your level of confidence?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Confidence, you know, comes with execution. So, I mean, to come out and win a first-round match, that helps a lot. Being in tight situations helps a lot.
But the good part is that at least I have experience, and that helps with my confidence, that I know how to handle situations and scenarios. That gives me definitely more confidence than maybe someone with less experience.
I think I can't worry about that. These are the cards I have, so I have to do the best with what I have, play my best in every moment.

Q. In all the years since you made a name for yourself at this tournament so long ago, how is your level of confidence now compared to the other experiences here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, last year I had little to no preparation also, too, so I hope can I play just as well as I did last year. There's been some unlucky summers, but I've been able to make some good on it.
Every year is so different. All the circumstances are always so different. I really just try to stay in the moment and not judge myself on anything in the past and just try to live in that moment. That works a lot of the times.

Q. Can you leave this room believing that you have mentally and physically six more matches you can win here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, a lot of the battle is just trying to be fit and stay healthy. Sometimes I've been losing that battle a lot. But I do feel like I can play six matches. I need to win them.
No one is more in one-match-at-a-time mode than me now at this tournament. It will just be one match at a time, for sure.

Q. Would you call yourself an eternal optimist? You don't get frustrated to the point where you say, I'm sick of waiting three or four months to play all the time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I make the best of my time when I'm not on tour, so that helps a lot. I have a lot of other things that I can do. I try to, you know, give my all to that, at the same time while trying to prepare for tennis. So I still stay very busy.
Definitely this summer I did start -- I'm never down. I started to get down this summer because all these things are out of my control. It's easier if it's something I've done, that I can control. When it's out of your control, you know, at some point it does start to be frustrating.

Q. Does the way Serena has played give you some hope that it's possible, that you have some motivation to follow your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think how she's played has been amazing. It was definitely motivating to see her do so well this summer.
But I know she can play. She knows she can play tennis. I know I can play tennis, so of course it's great to see those results. But I know I have it in me, also.

Q. She said this morning when she appeared here that even if you retired, she's enjoying tennis so much she would keep playing. What are your thoughts about your enjoyment, her enjoyment, and how long you think it will continue for both of you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I would be so upset if she retired. She could never do that to me. We have to go out together.
But we've decided we're not going to lead a traditional career. We haven't to this point, so we won't. So we're going to play past the limit that anyone has ever played, and when our singles game goes, we'll continue to dominate in doubles, hopefully bring home more majors in that.
So we've decided to just enjoy tennis. It's such an honor. We'll do it as long as we can. Right now the end is not really in sight.

Q. Given that you haven't played much, you might play Lisicki in the next round. If you lose the match, do you have a right to say to yourself, You know what, I shouldn't have lost it, or can you say, I tried, it's been a tough year, US Open, but no big deal, I have to move forward?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have to live in the moment and just do what I can, try to correct my mistakes as I make them, and continue good momentum as I have it regardless of who's across the net. Every player is different. It will be a different game plan going in with each player.
I'll definitely try to play my best. I've lost before and I've won before, too, and I can handle both.

Q. You hit a 126-miles-an-hour serve today. Did that feel good?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, that felt good. I wasn't trying to serve too hard today, I was just trying to make sure they went in.
So, I don't know. The more intense the moment, the bigger I'm going to try to serve most times. I can't help it.
But, you know, it's good to mix it up, too.

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