The Queen's quaterfinals interview
V. WILLIAMS/D. Hantuchova
Q. You haven't played one preparation tournament, yet you're in the semifinals without dropping one set. What's the recipe?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did get here a little early. I arrived on Wednesday. I practiced hard. I really didn't want to lose. Maybe that's the recipe.
Q. When did you play last such a good match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You think it was good?
I think I had a lot of errors. I think also that Daniela didn't play her best. I think she wanted to play better, for sure.
But I think in general, maybe it was my better match of this tournament. But, of course, I'm my best critic, I'm always looking for the things that I can do better after each match, unless it was perfect. So that's probably why I see it like that.
Q. What did you think when you served the 201 kilometer an hour serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't even know I served it. I was getting ready for the next serve, then I saw it.
I guess the times that I serve the hardest is when I'm not trying. I haven't even tried to break my record. Back when I was serving really big, I had the 205, I was always trying to serve really hard. So this tournament I did decide that I'm going to start trying to do that again.
Nowadays, I just go for placement and, of course, power. I mean, when I hit it, it just kind of comes that fast. Now I'm going to start trying to see if I can serve it even bigger than the record.
Q. What lesson did you take from last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: From last year?
Q. Playing her.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, well, I guess a lesson I could have taken is that she was a very good player. But I played her a handful of times. I think this match was just really different from the last one, for sure.
Q. Assuming you would meet Justine Henin in the semifinals, you've beaten her six times, lost one time. How do you feel about her as a player, opponent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hated that one loss. I always remember the losses more than the wins. So I guess I'll keep that in mind when I play the next one.
I always remember the scores, you know, the pain. But I think she's playing really well. I didn't see any of the last match. But I was on the doubles court, and they show the scores of the matches on the changeovers. The crowd would go, "Ooh," gasp, because it was 6-6, 7-6. It looked really exciting.
Q. Have you ever been in a match like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hmm, yes, I have. Those aren't easy, especially if you lose it.
Q. Did those out calls bother you from the crowd in that first set, when she started calling your shots long?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think in the middle of a point when the crowd starts to be a bit noisy, it's best just to focus on your shot and not to worry if the ball was really in or out. Obviously, I can't call the lines for me or against me.
I'd like to think they were in, but I suppose maybe some of them were in or out. I don't know.
Q. Will you watch the game tonight?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They don't seem to show it on TV, so I guess I won't be able to.
Q. You never do that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If they show the match, if I have time. In general, I like to watch women's tennis a lot, everyone at home, no matter what player it is.
Q. Do you learn something from watching it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I try to. (Inaudible) learn anything.
Q. You ready to beat the sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I assume it's Serena, right (smiling)?
Long way from that still. I mean, the semifinals is a very important point in a Grand Slam, for sure. Whoever I do play, it will be very important for me to focus on that match and just to keep improving. The thing I was happy with today was most of my errors that I was making were long, out, not in the net. When it's in the net, it bothers me. I don't like that.
Q. You have one match between your singles match and the doubles match you're going to play. What will you do in between?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Eat, stretch, tape, play.
Q. Do you tape between matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Where was the 205?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Zurich, long time ago, '98. Back then I was really always trying like to serve faster. After that, I just tapered off. I was always going for placement. Forgot to serve faster.
Q. Did you serve any more over 200?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. But then in the States, the clock is different. I guess it's about 123, something like that.
Q. Are you more determined, more focused to win a Grand Slam this year as you were last year or is there no difference?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As I was last year? Sure, always. But I think the players who are winning the Grand Slams are the ones who play the points at the right time, who are the bravest, who aren't afraid to make a mistake. That's what I have to be.
Q. If you make it to the final, would you prefer to play your sister again or would you prefer Kim Clijsters?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Sorry. I'm playing favorites.
Q. How does Mark help you as a hitting partner?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He's really consistent. He doesn't miss a lot. Especially if I have to play before a match -- not play, but practice, warm up before a match, then I have to have anything perfect. I don't want anything missing. I want the ball coming exactly how I want it to come. He's quite good at that. He's motivated. He's on time when I'm late. It's great.
Q. You're not wearing your necklace anymore.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't feel like it, so I didn't. I didn't bring a lot of good ones. I can't seem to find them anymore.
Q. You said the other day that you're a little bit more sure of your path off the court than Serena, that Serena was maybe more exploring her options a little bit more. On the court last year she couldn't have been more focused or dynamic. Do you think there's any validity in that, that that helped her be No. 1 last year, and maybe you just went off the boil a tiny bit?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't quite understand the question.
Q. The fact that you were getting more of your life in order off the court, the fact that she was more focused on the court. Do you think there's any explanation there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think that had nothing to do with it. She just was too good. Everyone tried to take her down; no one could do it.
Q. What do you think of your opponent today in view of her improvement? Were you looking for more opposition than what you received?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play a few matches here, plus I've played her, so I knew what to expect.
I just didn't want to go out there rushing my shots. Sometimes I can do that, start to make errors. But I don't think she did anything that I didn't expect, no.
Q. You hit so many shots, of course it's hard to remember one. You had a forehand return in the seventh game of the second set that set up a breakpoint. Do you recall that one?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. She couldn't even move and the point was over.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just took that one from Serena, I think. She hits that a lot.
I think at that point I just wasn't thinking about it too much. I just hit the shot instead of trying to analyze it so much beforehand. That works a lot better. It was nice.
Q. Do you normally try to analyze shots before you hit them?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I'm not playing so well, I do a lot. When I'm playing very well, I just play tennis.
Q. So was this your best return on a first serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Would there be no relief whatsoever to have to play in the final against somebody who is not your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No relief?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as?
Q. I don't know. In terms of psychological terms, not having to play your sister in the final.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Relief? I'm trying to understand the question. I never felt a relief.
Q. Would it be easier maybe psychologically if you had to play somebody who was not Serena, even though you would like to see your sister in the final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never really think of it that way. More than anything, I'm just trying to survive myself. Honestly, if I don't make it there, then what's the point? I'm just really trying to get there myself. Once I do get there, obviously I look at it that way.
Hopefully I'll be in the final.
Q. Do you have any time to focus on your design company?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. In fact, I don't think about it. I have to focus on the tennis. Fortunately I don't have to, and everything's going on at home. I'll have to read my e-mail and see if anything bad happened, but I don't think so.
Q. Does the tennis (inaudible) design?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Design? I think it's kind of an art form.