V. Williams interview - 3 July
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Venus Williams def. Elena Dementieva 6-1, 7-6
Q. You were jumping up and down like a little kid out there. What was going through your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I guess it started to set in a little bit about being in the final, which is always exciting. When I'm excited I always jump. That I guess will never change. But still I felt like the tournament was not over. I'm still in the doubles tomorrow and still have that final match to play, still one step further. So definitely would like to celebrate even more if I'm good enough to take that title.
Q. Do you ever feel like jumping up and down during the middle of a match? You're pretty contained until after you win.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm really contained. I mean, I don't fist pump a lot because I expect to win the point. It's not like if I win the point that it's like something that I wasn't expecting, so that's why I don't fist pump a ton. I mean, there's definitely some points where, you know, you need that point, and it's just exhilarating. For me, that's when the pump comes. But if I'm feeling up or down no one can tell. I can hardly tell, so... I just stay even-keeled no matter what.
Q. Serena said if you play she's gonna steal your breakfast. What kind of match do you expect between the two of you? She's leading 5-2. Looks like she'll win. What sort of tactics and strategy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, obviously I rely on my serve a lot. When I get it going it helps me out a ton. I think being able to go out there and return really well will be key for me. I'll definitely use my speed. As always, to win a title, you've got to play aggressive and not just hope that your opponent misses. So all of those things.
Q. Force the issue?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Always. Every day.
Q. Will you and Serena talk any more or any less between now and the final than you would normally?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. Just normal.
Q. How have you seen her change in the last few years, both personally and as a player? What differences do you see in Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think that we share even more things together off the court. We definitely rely on each other's advice even more. You know, I was a big sister. I was kind of like, you never make mistakes. So then I think sometimes it put pressure on her like to be perfect, too. Not that I'm perfect. But I'm just really like a nerd (laughter). She wasn't exactly that way, so I think we both now know our roles in the relationship and we support each other.
Q. Away from the relationship, just her away from Venus as a person and as a player. Have you seen her mature?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's definitely matured in a lot of ways. I don't really worry about her that much. I respect the decisions that she's gonna make. I don't worry that she's gonna make a decision that I'm going to try to be trying to et her not to make. On the court, she's always Serena Williams. She's tenacious. She's got every shot no matter what. You can't bet against her.
Q. Several players have said they can't even imagine the idea of playing against a sister on a grand stage. What has it been like for you and for Serena and what strain, if any, has it put on each of you as individuals?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think a lot of players could imagine it. I think that a lot of players never have a sibling that's a world-class athlete, and they also find themselves a world-class athlete at the top of their game. That's a blessing in itself. And I think, you know, if other people did find themselves in that situation, I think that they would be happy for their sister or brother or their sibling because they really would want to see them do well and that they wouldn't want to see them have a tough loss or not win a match that they should have won or have a close loss or anything like that. They'd want to see them go all the way. They would want to meet them. It's really just about wanting the best for your sister and just really wanting to see her do well - until she plays you, obviously (smiling).
Q. What factor in your mind is the fact that Serena beat you here the last two times you played in this situation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uhm, of course I respect her as a player more than anyone else on the tour. I think that's really the only factor that goes into it. I actually do respect her as a player.
Q. Some have noted, believe it or not, there's still a skepticism in the public in terms of one Williams sister playing another. Elena Dementieva just said that she felt the outcome of the final would be a result of a family decision. Could you talk to the public in terms of what happens when Venus plays Serena and whether there's any family decision, any discussion beforehand.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the main thing is that I find the question pretty offensive because I'm extremely professional in everything that I do on and off the court. I contribute my best in my sport, and I also have a ton of respect for myself and my family. So any mention of that is extremely disrespectful for who I am, what I stand for, and my family. That's pretty much how I feel about the whole subject.
Q. I think Elena --
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not talking about her. I'm talking about the question.
Q. I think he had it wrong. I think Elena didn't understand it. She was talking very complimentary about both of you. She said it's going to be a family decision, that someone in the family is going to win. I think it was a language issue. I don't think she was saying it was a family decision.
VENUS WILLIAMS: We need to move on from this subject because it's ridiculous.
Q. Venus, it's been five years since you and Serena have been in a Grand Slam final, primarily because of health issues and what have you. I wonder if you would take a moment and reflect on what it means, assuming she wins, for the two of you to get on to the very top of the tennis world once again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point our main focus is obviously both of us was getting to the final. Then from there it's every Williams for themself. I mean, our goal is just to be healthy. I think if we can be healthy, then we can do well and continue to climb the rankings. So of course we believe we can be on top, but we just have to keep our fingers crossed, keep working hard, and go for it.
Q. Is it ever awkward when you're playing your sister and, like you said before, you don't want to see her down, you don't want to see her play poorly. If your sister is all of a sudden playing poorly against you, you're creaming her, do you ever feel sad for her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. Not even when I was younger.
Q. You played her 15 times. Can you just talk about a couple of the moments or matches that most stand out for you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Geez, where do I start?
Q. You started in Australia in '98.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I mean, I remember the Australian Open final. I really played the best that I could and she was just better. I mean, there were a series of matches where I just -- she was just better than I was at that point, you know, on that day. She was definitely on a high. I had just came off of a couple years of just winning everything. I was tired. And then she had come off a couple years of not winning everything and she was more pumped. So it was kind of like this, you know, balance of her going up and me kind of being a little tired, a little burned out probably. But, you know, I think obviously playing here were some great finals. I think some of my best memories are here.
Q. Tomorrow night when you have finished on the doubles court, will you go your separate ways?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we live together, so we'll go home together.
Q. Even though you're living together, will you spend the whole night together tomorrow night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, we both prepare in different ways. I usually read a book. She usually watches a video. I mean, just the normal. Just the same preparation.
Q. Do you say anything to each other right before? Is there something you always say to each other before you're going to play each other?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I mean, at that point there's no more advice. I'll give her advice for this match, but she's not gonna say, Okay, now make sure you play my forehand because, you know, my wrist has been hurting. You know, none of that.
Q. Can you imagine having a career on the pro circuit without Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I don't think I'd be as good, because I was so inspired by her so many times. She really helped me to really be a fighter and to really dig deep. I think that's really what she gave me.
Q. It's no secret that your family came to tennis in a different way. You didn't play the juniors. Barring injuries, you've taken more time off, scheduled yourself better. A lot of people didn't do that. Yet you're 26, Serena is 26, and you're still in the thick of things. Is that an endorsement towards taking an unorthodox approach to the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We have really good genetic. I think it's all in the genes, to be honest. My mom and dad were really good athletes. I think it's just a blessing in the genes. I actually do think the time off did contribute. We didn't really start off very fast. All of it rolled in one.
Q. That first final at Key Biscayne seems so long ago. What do you recall about the tension, if there was any, before that match, then maybe the relief after the match was over?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I definitely wanted to win. I think that my family wanted me to win because I was the older sister. So they thought I should win this title because I was older, and then Serena would have a chance after. Personally that's what I felt. They didn't say anything. There have been other times where I felt like they felt like, Serena hasn't won, so it's her turn to win.
Q. It was like a coming out party for Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Was it? I don't know, because she had been playing great tennis before that, so I guess it was just a way on the road to glory for her.