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FEDCUP WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND: BELARUS v USA


February 1, 2012


Mary Joe Fernandez

Venus Williams


WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS

THE MODERATOR:テつ I want to welcome Venus Williams and Davis Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.テつ First question, please.

Q.テつ Talk about how you're feeling, how you've been preparing.
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ I'm feeling better every week.テつ I'm feeling good, having some adrenaline gives me more energy.テつ This is good to be here, especially since last year I couldn't play.テつ In Germany, I was standing on the sidelines which was tough because I couldn't help the team at all.テつ This year it's great to be in a position to help.

Q.テつ When you have an injury like this, how long does it take before you say you're back in tennis form ready to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ What kind of injury?テつ I don't know, because it's all new for me.テつ I like to think I'll be in the best form ever.
It's all new, so I don't know what every day will bring.テつ I like to have a positive attitude.

Q.テつ (Question regarding preparation.)
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ A lot of the usual.テつ On the court, in the gym, all that preparation.テつ I tried to watch some matches in Australia just to see what my opponents were doing.
No new tricks in the bag really in terms of preparation.

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Yeah, I do receive medical treatment.テつ But it's pretty standard for what I have, I guess.

Q.テつ While you were watching the matches in Australia, were you watching your teammates, as well, to see what you could pick up?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ It all depends on what they show on the telecast.テつ I can't be too picky since I wasn't actually in Australia.
I just try to stay updated, if there's new players.

Q.テつ Have you had a chance to take a look at our city?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Just a little bit.テつ Been so busy with team practice.テつ Today is a busy day with the clinic.テつ Hopefully tomorrow things will be slower.テつ I understand it's a college town.

Q.テつ With the clinic, you're going to be talking to kids about tennis.テつ It's going to be a big thrill for them to see you and Serena and the other players here.テつ What could the kids say to you when they see you for the very first time?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ All kids are different.テつ Some are shy, some are precocious.テつ They're all different.テつ So it just depends on their personality.
They usually all want to know what it's like to play Serena.テつ That's a pretty common question.テつ I can expect that every time.
They love to hit the ball.テつ I love to give them some pointers on how to improve their game, but more importantly some pointers on attitude because that's so huge in tennis and in life.

Q.テつ I've seen Mary Joe with a racquet.テつ How she's playing?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Very well.テつ You never know when she's going to have to play, singles, doubles.
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ I feed a mean ball these days.
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ She's very humble.

Q.テつ How difficult has it been to not be on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Yeah, it's definitely difficult not being on the court, especially when there's not much to be done about it, when it's completely out of my control.テつ I think that's probably the hardest part.
Sometimes no matter how positive your attitude is (indiscernible).テつ It's about learning and adjusting.テつ I learn for me how to treat myself, how to be smart, listen to my doctor, do as much as I can.テつ I think that's brought me a long way.
Of course, I would love to have it happen faster.テつ I would have loved to have played the Australian.テつ I'm here this week, but it's tough.

Q.テつ What do you think of the possibility of playing Azarenka?テつ What did you see out of her?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ I didn't really see a lot of the final.テつ I stay up late for Serena's matches, I will, but I don't stay up as late for everyone else's.テつ So I didn't really see much of the final.
But she won that final, that's a huge plus for her, a wonderful achievement that everybody aspires for.テつ She worked hard for it so she's got to be on the ball.
For us as a team, we definitely have to know she's coming in well and be ready to combat each and every shot she hits.

Q.テつ What have you noticed as far as recovering from injuries and recovering from an illness?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Difference is just acceptance, kind of trying to accept how you feel, limitations, listening to your body, taking care of yourself.テつ Instead of trying to run through a wall, try to take a step back and be smart.テつ I think that's kind of what I've learned.テつ I think every serious professional does that.テつ They just keep going.テつ There's some things you just can't keep going through.
I still have to be reminded to slow down.テつ But hopefully there will be a day where I won't have to be reminded.

Q.テつ Venus, have you had a chance to see Christina McHale play very much?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Yeah, I've seen her play a lot.テつ She just keeps taking steps forward to improve her game, improve her fitness, improve her attitude, improve her mental game.テつ Those are all things it takes.
I believe there's no limit for any player.テつ The only limit is what you put on yourself.テつ As long as she keeps working hard, she can be as good as she wants.

Q.テつ You worked your way to become the No.1 player in the world many times.テつ It's one thing to work your way to become No.1, what does it take to stay No.1?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ I don't know what it takes (laughter).
Got to win a few matches, play consistently, hopefully win some big ones here and there.テつ I think that's the secret combination.

Q.テつ Mary Joe, you're the captain of the team.テつ You've been working with the players.テつ What advice do you offer?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ A little of everything.テつ You're there for support.テつ You're there to pick up any strategy or weaknesses, strengths of the opposition, try to help your team to maximize their potential.
Whatever I see in practice, I try to point out.テつ You know, more importantly like what Venus said about attitude.テつ There's not a lot of things you can control when you go out on a tennis court.テつ One thing you can control is your attitude.テつ I try to focus on that, to know that's in their power, they can get out there no matter how it's going and portray a positive attitude and fight very, very hard no matter what.
I do my best to keep everybody positive.テつ During the matches I'm on the court and I try to pick up things here and there that I can help out with.

Q.テつ When fans come on Saturday and Sunday, what do you hope the fans see?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ I hope they see fantastic tennis.テつ They're going to be in for a treat.テつ We have three Grand Slam champions, No.1 professional players.テつ It's pretty unique to come here and be able to see that in two days.
I hope we have a packed house.テつ I hope we have a lot of cheering and screaming for the USA.テつ That's what makes the team competition, Fed Cup, special, is having the advantage of playing at home.
Hopefully we'll play really well and come out with a victory.

Q.テつ (Question regarding the loudness of other players.)
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Me, I don't hear anything on the court.テつ I only care about what's happening on my side.テつ Of course, I want to know what my opponent is doing in terms of strategy.
But I don't hear, I'm just playing.テつ Maybe my level of focus is different from some other players.テつ I think when you're being a true champ, you don't hear much, you don't hear anything.テつ When you walk off the court, people say, Did you hear this, that and the other?テつ I say, No, I didn't hear any of that.
Personally that's a level I'm trying to achieve each time I go on the court.テつ I don't hear it.

Q.テつ It doesn't bother you at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ I'm telling you I literally do not hear.テつ My focus is somewhere else.テつ I don't hear that.テつ I just think ball, cross‑court, win the point, whatever it is.テつ When I play, I want to win.テつ So to me, I don't hear it.

Q.テつ Mary Joe, what have you seen from Venus so far that she's back on the court?テつ As the captain, how big is it to have somebody with her experience on the team?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ It's huge to have Venus on the team.テつ Like Venus said, she came to Germany last year, wasn't able to play.テつ Just to have her around is a big motivator for the rest of your team.
It's a big excitement.テつ She was itching to get out there to hit that first ball.テつ I think that goes such a long way.テつ The attitude, everybody seeing it, seeing the desire, the determination, the intensity, it rubs off.テつ It's great to see Venus out there this morning hitting well, working hard.
For me it's a big treat and honor to have her on this team.

Q.テつ (Question regarding Liezel as a doubles player.)
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ I've had Liezel as a player on all my teams since I've been captain.テつ She trains like she's playing singles out there.テつ She knows her doubles really, really well.テつ There's no mistake why she's No.1 in the world in doubles.テつ She is day in and day out working on it and competes very well.テつ She's a good competitor.
She's great on the team.テつ She's right behind you and right behind everybody else.テつ She works really well with all the young players, too.テつ It's been great.テつ I was talking to her today about how much longer she's going to keep playing.テつ She wants to play till she can't play anymore.テつ She loves the game and it shows.

Q.テつ I can't help but ask this because Super Bowl weekend is around the corner.テつ Patriots and Giants, who do you like?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ Me?
CAPTAIN FERNANDEZ:テつ Her team lost.
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ My team lost.テつ I'm sure someone will win.テつ I'll be happy.テつ Someone will be devastated.テつ That's my prediction.

Q.テつ You alluded to the team atmosphere of Fed Cup.テつ What makes it special for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS:テつ I think what really makes it special is just the feeling of not really just playing for yourself, kind of taking that burden and that pressure and living up to it, coming through not just for yourself but for the rest of the team.
It's different when you play in a tournament, you win some points, you look to your box.テつ But here it doesn't matter if you're down 5‑Love, they're like, Come on.テつ They really rally for you.テつ It's really a team spirit, high or low, which is rare in tennis.テつ So it's a great feeling.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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