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August 25, 2012
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions, please.
Q.Â How does it feel to be back after having to withdraw from the tournament last year with Sjogren's syndrome?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Last year it was a definitely a tough year.Â I've come a long way in that one year.Â It's great to be back and feeling a lot better.Â Now I feel like I can play.Â Last year was just a real struggle.
So I'm happy to have progressed and be in this tournament.
Q.Â How did the Olympics, if at all, affect your preparation for the hard court season?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â The Olympics was amazing.Â Like I feel like I played my best tennis of the year at the Olympics.Â I was extremely excited going into Cincinnati.Â I was just, I couldn't wait to play, so it really gave me a boost, I think, and gave me like just all this excitement about getting out back on the court.
Q.Â How does one keep their body prepared going straight from the Olympics to something like this?Â How do you keep your body in shape?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, lots of prayer.Â But just try to stay fit and stay in the gym and do a lot of prevention, stay strong.Â I mean, a lot of unforeseen things do happen.Â That's life.
Q.Â Given everything, do you feel like maybe a rejuvenation mentally, just to break away from things has had a rejuvenating effect on you?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, it was a break, but I worked really hard during that break.Â So there was definitely a lot.Â I almost needed a break from the break.Â (Laughter.)
A lot of things were happening in my life during that time.Â Of course I'm grateful.Â I love tennis.Â I got to do what I wanted to do the most:Â be at the Olympics.Â That was my whole dream this year.Â Being able to do that for she was just, I feel really blessed.
Q.Â How does making your great run in Cincinnati, making the semifinals there, how does that change your expectations or mindset at all coming into this tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, it's just all about giving 100% on every point for me.Â That's what I did in Cincinnati.Â Every point I gave everything I possibly could, and I think that helped me with the great results.Â I played a lot of great players in that tournament.
I think that should give me confidence going into my matches.Â And more than anything I just want to step into each match and treat it the same way I did in Cincinnati.
Q.Â One of your Olympic brethren, Gabby Douglas, she's America's golden child right now, she came under some fire that was unnecessary about her hair.Â You and your sister.Â It was something people talked about when you first came into tennis.Â Where was your opinion when you heard the mention about Gabby?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â See, I was in London.Â They didn't talk about her hair there so I didn't hear about that.
I'm a little late to the ‑‑the stories in London were all about the English people.Â It was a different perspective where I was.
Q.Â But now maybe you're stateside and have heard a little bit about it, what's your opinion about it?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I didn't really hear about it.Â I'm not sure.Â I think she's gorgeous.Â At her age, let me tell you, I was not looking that great.Â I think she looks amazing.Â More than anything, she lived her dream and performed well.
There's only a handful of people that can do that.Â I'm very proud of her because of that.
Q.Â How is your back doing since Cincinnati?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yes, since Cincinnati I have been back on the road to recovery.Â I'm not 100%, but I'm going to try to get as close to 100% for my match.Â That injury was totally unexpected.Â I have never ever had a back problem.
It was like, Wow.Â It was crazy.Â But I tried my best to get through it during that match because I really wanted to be in the final.Â Didn't work out for me, but I will try to do it here.
Q.Â What exactly is the problem and how is it limiting you in your preparation given that you said you're not 100%?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, I didn't start hitting serves until Thursday.Â What is today?Â Saturday?Â (Laughter.)
Yeah, so I had to take it easy, you know, leading up to the tournament.Â I have had just kind of a soft preparation.
But I feel good about my game.Â That's the most important thing going into the tournament.Â I think with injuries you have to start to get used to the pain.Â So I think that's pretty much what it's going to be for me:Â just get used to it and keep going.
Q.Â Can you talk about some of your offcourt business ventures?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, of course I have EleVen which I wear on the court, and I have and interior design company too.Â We do pretty much 100% commercial designs, so like hotels or different things like that.Â So that keeps me busy.
But I have a great team, so it helps.
Q.Â Kim Clijsters was in a moment or two ago.Â She said when your sister, Serena, is at the peak of her form and in good shape that she regards her as the best player ever.Â I just wonder, what are your thoughts on that?Â Is it possible for you to detach yourself and make a verdict?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, she's amazing.Â I think when she's playing great and feeling confident ‑ even when she isn't ‑ it still takes a hurricane to beat her.Â You have to be on your best tennis and basically make no errors.Â I think her record speaks for what an amazing player she is.
Q.Â Can you flashback to 2000, 2001 your title runs, and talk about some of the things you remember?Â That was quite some time ago.
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah.
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I remember in 2000 I went to sit in my chair in the quarterfinals and I missed it completely and fell on the ground.Â That's a funny memory.Â I remember that final 2000, and Lindsay played so well.Â I remember having to change my game plan completely and having to come back in that match.
It was very satisfying because I felt like we both played amazing.Â To play a match where you play well and your opponent played well is great.Â I think the next time was the first time Serena and I played each other in a major tournament.Â That was very monumental for us, because growing up we were saying, Yeah, we're going to do this, and then when it happens it's a big deal for our whole family and tennis and American tennis.
I think those were definitely years where the game was growing and changing.
Q.Â Did you feel looking back, going on that court against her, did you feel uncomfortable at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, I wanted to win.Â That sums it up.Â I think she did to.Â I'm good I got the title.Â She got another one the next year.
Q.Â You have offcourt ventures, success on court, The New York Times pegged you against the world.Â What is next?Â What's next for the Williams sisters?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Next for me, I had a big life change.Â Whereas I used to do a lot of things for myself, you know, I was very, very hands on with my businesses, but now I have like taken more of a back seat and just do most important role, which is not be such a busybody or control freak.
I focus a lot on my tennis and I try to get a lot of rest.Â So in order for me to do this well, I have to ‑‑my life is changed, so I just try to focus a lot more on saving energy for tennis.Â I'm not trying to conquer anything else.Â I'm tired.
Q.Â Has anything in your life being in the face of your illness?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, a lot of people come up to me and tell me how, you know, they have the disease or their daughter has the disease or now my husband believes that I'm sick, because a lot of people with autoimmune disease they look healthy but inside they don't feel well at all.
I think it helps a lot of people to get diagnosed earlier and to feel better sooner or just to have a reason why you feel that way helps a lot.Â So I'd like to think that's what it does.
Q.Â Did you have any reservations about the disease, other players, Trump cards trying to capitalize on it?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, I mean, I would've liked to have kept it privately, but it didn't work out that way for me.Â In the end, I think it happened the best way that it could.Â So it's good to be honest sometimes.
Q.Â In your quarter, how do you approach those players when you play them again?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I try to learn from my mistakes.Â I try to get the win.Â I think it's pretty simple and try to bring my best game.
Q.Â Can you compare and contrast your mindset coming into here when you knew you were suffering from this disease and you didn't know what was going to happen versus this year coming in?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah.Â I mean, last summer everything was so hard so everything was very difficult.Â Just so hard.Â Everything was hard.Â I didn't understand why.
And then just being at the tournament, every day I just wanted to quit at practice.Â I would tell myself, Maybe tomorrow I'll feel better.Â Just keep going.Â So it was very difficult.
This year when I practice I don't want to quit.Â It's a huge difference.Â To be in a major and just like want to walk off the court is tough.Â I have come a long way thanks to my doctors and everything else.Â It's great.
Q.Â Describe the Open and what New York City brings to this unique event.
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, US Open, it's loud and crazy and big, and pretty much very important for the American players because it's our major at home.
You know, everybody knows about New York City.Â It's just a mental test here to finish the year and to get through everything that's like all around you the whole time.
Q.Â Did it come to your mind that you're going to retire, and if so, would you like to retire first or you like Serena to retire first?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Oh, God.Â Maybe we will retire together.Â Hopefully she feels the same way.
Q.Â You talked about American tennis.Â This year you spent a bunch of time with Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens.Â They both had big breakout tournaments.Â Can you compare them?Â The personalities are very different.
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I think their games are both developing.Â They're still developing their shots.Â They have a lot of variety and are getting stronger.Â I think now it's just a beginning for both of them.
Continuing to improve their serve and groundstrokes and mental toughness.Â It's just the beginning for them.Â I think they do everything well.Â They play match tough.Â This year for Sloane also has been a great year.Â She's had the opportunity to play a lot of matches and learn a lot, and Christina has just been progressing.
That's great for American tennis, for Fed Cup, and all that stuff.Â It's great to see that.
Q.Â Do you know if the future is in good hands for them?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Absolutely.Â The sky's the limit.Â Sky's the limit for sure.Â Just keep progressing.Â As long as they stay healthy they will do well.
Q.Â Kim Clijsters said if she won the US Open she wouldn't come back.Â I'm just wondering what's your motivation?Â Is it the adrenaline rush?Â Being out there?Â What keeps you going?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I think we have different priorities.Â She wants to have more family, and I...Â Yeah.Â (Laughter.)Â Yeah.
So I think that's the difference probably us.Â I really love tennis, and I feel like I have so much to give, especially since I have had my health problems.Â I feel like I can't let anything take me down.Â I have to beat this.
So for me, this is what it's all about is beating this.Â And not just for me, but for everyone who has felt ill or sick and wants to return back to what they were.Â For me, I have a lot to prove to myself.
Q.Â Has it been a lifestyle change or more rest or medicines?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â All of the above.Â Thank God for medicine, right?Â But medicine, it takes time to find the right combinations and try different things, you know.Â The main medicine for my disease takes six months before it kicks in, so you're sitting at home like, What month is it now?Â (Smiling.)
It's a long process, and you definitely learn to change your life.Â You have to learn to accept limitations and accept that maybe you don't recover from‑‑ you know, other people can do other things that maybe for me is not going to help my tennis if I'm all over the place.
Now I like this life better because it's easier for me.Â I know I can't do that because I have to save my energy.Â I can say no to a lot more stuff.Â It's great.
Q.Â Exactly how many months were you feeling tired before the doctors could pinpoint what the disease was?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Years.Â Years.
Q.Â Like starting what year?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â The main year for me was 2007 when I really started to feel tired.
Q.Â You still won Wimbledon 2008.
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Yes.
Q.Â Then was it worse year after year after year?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I just didn't know what was wrong with me.Â I just had to get a lot worse before I could get diagnosed.Â I had different diagnoses, like asthma.Â One doctor told me that maybe I should go see a psychiatrist.
I want to go back to him.Â I watch a lot of the Golden Girls.Â There is episode where Dorothy has chronic fatigue syndrome, and the doctor tells her to go buy a new dress or whatever.
She goes back to him and tells him off. I want to go to that doctor and say, I had something real.Â Don't go see a tell me to see a psychiatrist.Â Something is wrong with me.Â So I want to go see him.
Q.Â A lot of the news that came out of the Olympics about women, it was pretty negative.Â What was your view of women and the Olympics and their performance?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I didn't hear that news either.
Q.Â Wasn't performance based.Â I'm asking the women that you saw, what was your opinion on their performance over in London?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Well, the Olympics is for sure about performing your personal best, but it's also about participation.Â It's about feeling a part of something bigger than what you ever can be alone.
I think so many women perform well ‑‑ so many men did, as well‑‑ but it's like not even the point.Â It's about the Olympic moment for me.Â That's how I felt when I was there.
Q.Â What's one event that sticks out in your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â I watched a lot of archery, beach volley ball, ping‑pong, badminton.Â I watched everything that I could see.Â I started watching rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming.
Yeah, I watched a lot of stuff.
Q.Â You were speaking before about Kim.Â What does Kim mean to the tour and what does she mean to you personally?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Kim has, you know, had a resurgence like no other coming back winning two majors.Â I'm sure if she hadn't had injuries she would have been able to do more and even live more of a dream at the Olympics when you bring home a medal.
I think she's inspiration for everyone who has said, If you put your mind to it you have a dream you can do whatever you want and do all the things that you want.
So I think she's done that.Â I think for me that just is motivation for me.
Q.Â Have you had a chance to read a New York Times magazine article yet?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â Not yet.
Q.Â After the Olympics do you feel like everything is gravy?Â It was such a big push for you to make the team.Â Are you kicked into different sort of expectations?
VENUS WILLIAMS:Â When you say Olympics, my heart is, Oh, my god, because that was amazing for me.Â It was definitely a kick start for me.Â I feel like my game has improved a lot.Â I just need time.
For me this year it's about figuring everything out, and maybe the rest of my career will be.Â I love it, and I'm having a great time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports