An interview with:VENUS WILLIAMS
V. WILLIAMS/V. Douchevina
VENUS WILLIAMS: I had a good match. I had a few more errors than what I wanted to, but really the whole goal was just to keep hitting out. I felt that I could have pulled back, of course, and cut my errors in half. But I really wanted to go after her and play well.
Also she hit a lot of balls back. Her second serve was quite slower than what I expected. I think it threw me off a little bit at first. I had to move up and adjust to that. So that was also different.
But I never played her before and I think she's quite good for her age also.
Q. Your serve was a little bit slower today, as well. Did you deliberately back off a little bit?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not really going for speed really - just placement and force. Maybe I'll concentrate on that in some of my next matches, the speed.
But feeling fine. My second serve also is faster than normal and is kicking much higher.
Q. You were thinking about playing the US Open. Couldn't do it.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. When did you finally realize that your abdominal muscles were going to let you do it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Were going to let me do it?
Q. Serve like you wanted to serve.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess sometime later in the fall really. Things started to subside.
Still sweating from the match. It's hard to cool down.
But, no, it just took time. Over time I could definitely see when I was better, and I could also see if I did certain things or lift certain things or tried to do too much in my exercise regime or rehabilitation regime, that I would also regress, so I couldn't be too ambitious. So I had to just wait.
It was really just a waiting game.
Q. Was that frustrating?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As much as I like tennis, I was okay being away from it. The hardest thing was definitely accepting my limitations, to accept that I couldn't do it. And growing up in the Williams house, there was no such thing as "can't" or "cannot." That was a hard thing to accept, that I couldn't. It seemed everyone else could - my mom, dad, sisters, except for me.
Q. When you are speaking about limitation, do you have any limitation? Would you list some of them?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Limitations as far as?
Q. You said "limitations," this word.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I'm quite ambitious, I think. I try a lot of things. I notice also when I'm trying different things, like I'll learn new things. My mom, she's kind of sitting like this (closed mouthed). She knows that I try too much, and she worries for me. She doesn't want me to lose my focus on the tennis - which I won't. I'll always keep that. It's like my lighthouse. I'm always going towards the tennis. But also there's other things that take me in other directions, too. For me, it's important to be well-rounded in order for me to do my best at the tennis.
Q. What are some of those other things?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like I try new languages. I like to try to learn computer programs, like PhotoShop. What else? You know, fashion design programs, as far as technical drawing. I like a lot of music. I want to learn to mix. I play the guitar and the bass, but I want to learn keyboards.
What else is on my list? I have things on my list that are like life goals, goals for 2004. So there's a lot of things I'd like to do. You know, I write. I write poetry in my spare time. Just different things that I try.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I know, I miss her, too (laughter).
Q. Serena does fashion design, as well. Are you into something like that as well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely, for sure. Definitely after tennis -- I don't know what my first love is after tennis. More than anything, I like exploring myself, and each year I realize there's so much more that I don't know, so much more that I'd like to do. And I think more than anything, I just want to improve myself. That's my whole goal. Whether it's fashion or any other endeavor, I just want to do my best and just keep getting more out of me.
Q. After such a long layoff from tournament play, did you have to deal with more aches and pains than normal when you came back up after these first couple of matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, yeah, for sure. When you're off so long, you have to be real careful about how much you train. You can't go gung-ho and get out there and practice five hours because you'll come back with five more injuries.
I have done that. And this time I was a lot smarter. It took three or four practices before I could go out there and practice an hour or hour and a half or two hours. But I did ease into it.
Still now I'm trying not to play too many events, too many doubles and singles. I'm watching how much I practice on my off-days. Those kinds of things. But I have my mom and my trainer. I tell them, "Don't let me do it. Don't let me practice too long."
Q. Do you increase it as the tournament goes on, or do the matches give you the fitness you need?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really less and less. Less and less. I am real clear on what I want to execute and what I want to do on the court. I'm real clear with my technique. I feel I can bring the errors down when I'm ready. I feel like I just want to hit, and that's what I'm doing.
Q. How is the interior design company going? You said you set yourself goals for 2004. Can you tell us what those are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: 2004 goals? Well, as far as the tennis, definitely to get my ranking back up. It seems like the ranking isn't always up to me. Of course, to definitely be successful in the Grand Slam events and the WTA Tour events. Really, that's at the forefront of everything. So everything else comes second.
Q. And the design company?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Design company, of course to always grow. My ultimate goal is to have branches in different cities. But that's quite a few years from now. So, of course, it's important to have the first business model up and running and perfected.
Q. Seven years ago you were able to say a few words in Italian. Now you just say you would like to improve your languages. Which language? Have you made any progress in Italian?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I made some progress in my Italian. I haven't studied since like '99. I picked up Spanish. I got too busy with everything in my life, so I had to drop it.
I want to learn French. I was pretty good at my French, but it dropped off. Didn't practice.
Ultimately, I'd like to speak lots of languages because I love words. I love how people put them together. I like the translations, yeah.
Q. Have you ever heard of an old suggestion, "Sleep with the dictionary"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I never heard this one. Is this English or Italian?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I never heard this one.
Q. Have you thought about learning Russian?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've tried that, too. Believe me, I've tried every language (laughter). I've tried it, yes. I think I learned the alphabet, but it's been a few years since I tried that, too. But at least I can phonetically sound things out, so I'm not as lost as maybe the next person when I go to Russia.
Q. Are you following the primary campaign at all in the States?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Do you have any opinions on that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I've been watching the tennis, yeah.
Q. I have one question regarding the first-round Fed Cup match which you play against Slovenia.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. What are your intentions? Are you planning to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You don't want me to play?
Q. Of course, everybody is curious whether you or your sister are going to come to our country.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I would love to come. I think that's one of the highlights of Fed Cup, to go to countries that you normally wouldn't have the chance to go to. So I'm very keen on coming. I'm really keen on supporting the new captain also, Zina Garrison.
I'm real excited. She told me she's been there before and it's a beautiful country. I'd like to be immersed in the whole experience, besides of course getting a win for the US.
Q. There's a report from overseas that yourself and Serena have started proceedings to get custody of your sister's child. Is that true?
Oh my God, wrong place, wrong time to talk about that.
Q. I had to ask. I'm sorry.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you.