ALLEZ VENUS!! Looks like she HAS added muscle in those pics!!
May 24th, 2005, 04:14 PM
Williams has fun as she cruises into second round
PARIS (AP) -- Hitting smashes and volleys with gusto, punching forehands down
both lines, Venus Williams enjoyed herself Monday as she cruised into the second
round of the French Open.
No. 11-seeded Williams completed her 6-3, 6-2 win over Marta Marrero of Spain in
69 minutes. She would have closed out the match quicker if not for the urge to
try extravagant winners instead of more routine shots.
``Sometimes I get a little wild,'' she said, adding that her opponent's loopy
groundstrokes were too much to resist.
``I just love the swing volley,'' the 6-foot-1 Williams said. ``Because I'm so
long and tall I can get most of them back. She's like a classic clay-court
player, playing high balls and loop balls.''
Williams is seeking her first Grand Slam title since winning Wimbledon and the
U.S. Open in 2001 and is winless in her last five major finals.
She's also carrying the hopes of her family following the withdrawal of sister
Serena on Friday because of a lingering ankle injury.
``What can I say? I mean, I wish it was different, but it's not,'' Williams
The closest Venus came to winning the French Open was in 2002, when Serena beat
her 7-5, 6-3 in the final. A fourth-round loss in 2003 was followed by a
quarterfinal defeat to eventual champion Anastasia Myskina last year.
She's eager to claim a second Roland Garros title for the family.
``I don't know if I'm obsessed,'' she said. ``But I love it here. It's a nice
feeling. My goal is to be in the final and to hold up the trophy. I have big
dreams of winning this tournament ... always.''
Williams is in good form coming into Paris, having won the Istanbul Cup in
Turkey on Saturday -- the 32nd title of her career but her first in a year. She
said her confidence is still intact, and losing bothers her as much as ever.
``I was always raised to go for the gold, and the sky's the limit. I go for it
all. I don't put any limits on myself. I would only live with regrets if I had
that,'' she said. ``It's extremely annoying (to lose) at any time. But I try to
Williams had a word of warning for those who feel her dominant days are over.
``I try not to listen to the talk because everyone can talk,'' she said ``But
there are very few who can walk. So for all those who aren't, like, playing, I
pay no mind.''
Venus, Dementieva show mettle to reach third round By Matt Cronin
Wednesday, May 25, 2005Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva became the first two high seeds to battle their way into the third round when they both scored impressive victories on Wednesday.
Williams had to struggle to overcome clay court specialist Fabiola Zuluaga 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour, 45 minutes, while 2004 finalist Dementieva put down a strong challenge from Croatian Sandra Mamic 7-6 (7), 6-2 in two hours, three minutes.
Williams, who reached the final here in 2002, rarely shied away from her strategy of not overplaying her groundstrokes, committing only seven more unforced errors than the usually steady Zuluaga. The 11th seed also kept her normally erratic forehand under control, knocking off eight winners.
For her part, Dementieva had to go wall to wall to survive the talented Mamic, who was swinging from the hips. Dementieva -- who has been battling a left hip injury -- retrieved during much of the contest, only hitting four more winners than her foe.
May 25th, 2005, 02:33 PM
http://www.rolandgarros.com/images/headers/fo4510h2_e.gif Q. That was a bit of a challenge, wasn't it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It was a challenging match, but I think the best part was, you know, she's a player with variety, so sometimes she's hitting harder and sometimes she's hitting with more spin. So I got to see everything which, you know, I'll see throughout the rest of the tournament.
Q. Good to get a match like that, somebody who mixes it up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, definitely. You know, if you get used to seeing only hard balls and only soft balls, sometimes you get into, you know, a particular rhythm.
Q. With Serena not here, Venus, do you feel like you're flying the Williams' flag, that you have something to uphold?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It has been said (smiling).
Q. Is that a good position to be in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Always, yeah. Of course.
Q. How do you feel you are playing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Playing good. Playing good. I feel really good in the long rallies, you know. I feel like my return is also good. Just in general I'm pretty comfortable on the clay.
Q. Back to Fed Cup for just a second. You had a chance to look at the future of women's tennis. Two young girls, Brittany Augustine, Asia Muhammad, who maybe within three years, by the time some of you guys could be fading, they could be making a very big impact on the game. Can you elaborate a little bit on what you saw hitting with these two young players?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They were really good. They were, first of all, great attitudes, which is pretty much, you know, the whole battle almost, willing to work hard. They were just having fun. That's what I liked most of all. And then they were very talented. It's really up to them how far they want to take it.
Q. Do you think at 13 it's still too early for you to assess how good they can be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't do any assessing these days. I leave it up to whoever, you know, is playing to do their own assessment. I leave it up to you.
Q. You were 13 once. Where do you think they are right now compared to where you were at age 13?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Mentally they're much more solid than I was. I was pretty much a laughing hyena, very oblivious.
I think they're, you know, on a higher level mentally than I was. I was also around this height at 13, too, so I probably had more leverage.
Q. Looks like you're going to play Karatantcheva next round, who is 15. Does it surprise you to see how young girls are on the tour now and being successful at that age?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. There's always good players coming. That's the way it is because tennis keeps going.
Q. Do they seem younger? Do the seem bigger, stronger when you were 16 and 17 playing on the tour?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think there's a lot more younger players in comparison to at the time when I was playing, a lot more younger people breaking through the ranks, it seems. When I was in my teens, it was just a handful of girls, it seemed.
Q. Any guess as to why that is?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea. I'm no expert.
Q. You said you were flying the Williams flag. What does the Williams flag consist of? What is it made of? What kind of fabric?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course, you know, only fabrics from couture. More than anything, just having fun. That's the main thing. I just feel the more you enjoy yourself, the better things are, the better, at least for me, that I play. So that's like number one. Of course, leave it all out on the court.
But, yeah, I never really thought about what Williams flag stood for. Kind of put me on the spot there.
Q. Do you have a sense that a lot of people do follow how you and Serena are doing, so to speak?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Follow our progress?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so, yeah.
Q. How did it feel to finally win a title after 12 or 13 months?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was nice. It was nice. But then at the same time I've won quite a few titles, so it was kind of, I guess, familiar, to say the least.
Q. But it felt good?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, awesome.
Q. Can you explain what happened in the third set? You were leading 4‑0, then she came back. Was it something she did or you let down a little or a little combination?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think there were just a few moments where I was rushing a little too much. Then there were times when she was just playing some great tennis, put some good shots together. I expected as much from her because she's a very good player. But then at the same time I felt like I needed to be solid all the time. Sometimes I was just ‑‑ a few too many errors.
Q. Can you also reflect back to Miami for us when you beat Serena. How much did that victory give you mentally to feel better about yourself or that your game was going where it wanted? It had been a long time since you had beaten her, a little distance between then.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was all good, I guess. It's not something I think about every day. I guess the matches I enjoy most are definitely against the Top 10 players. All the other matches, sure, are challenging also, but it's great to play against the best of the best and then meet the challenge every time. So it was nice.
Q. Serena specifically?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, because she's like, you know, toughest player on tour a lot of the times.
Q. Zina thinks that your game is still evolving and that you're really close to sort of a major breakthrough where your transition game and net game will be something you're going to be going to. I know they talk to you about it all the time. Do you actually feel like you're ready to push through in that stage where you're going to become more of a net‑rusher, someone who takes over the net, or do you kind of see yourself the way you were when you were winning four or five years ago, winning a lot of points inside the baseline, mostly from the back?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like this philosophy because sometimes I'm tired of hanging out on the baseline. But I feel like it's about time to break camp. When I'm playing my best, I'm always, of course, moving forward. But that's pretty much anyone. All the great players are always making something happen. But I feel like I'm quite good at the net and I have like a lot of leverage.
Yeah, that's something Zina and I talked about. I'm getting there.
Q. She also talked about how you have to learn to trust, not just at the net itself, but trusting that you can make the approach and not backing off. Do you feel more trust within yourself that you're not going to get passed or hit a lousy volley? >
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that for me it's just all about dedicating more time to practice at the net, because I'm like a player that gets carried away and I start practicing one thing, then three hours later I'm still practicing that and it's time to leave court and I haven't practiced anything else. I have to I think spend more time at the net in practice because it comes first on the practice court.
Q. Is that going to be a necessary part of your game if you're going to go back to the top again, or do you feel like you can get back to the top again essentially winning points from the back?>
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think either way.
Q. Talk you a little bit about what you did in Istanbul.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like what?
Q. Away from the courts, your impression. Kind of a bit off the beaten tennis track.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, of course, I did the tennis on the bridge, then we went to the bazaar, and also to the Ottoman castle. Not a lot of time to do a ton of things. I enjoyed my time there. If I never get to go back, at least I had the opportunity to go. I don't know, I never dreamed I'd be going to Turkey.
Q. Did you buy anything in the bazaar?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe (laughter). I tried to resist. You know, old habits die hard.
Q. What did you buy?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe I'll wear some of it next time around. I bought mostly jewelry, though.
Q. How are you staying healthy these days? You've been healthier the last year probably than for a while. Any secret to it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Lots of prayer, lots of determination to stay healthy, I guess less twisting of the ankles. I usually tape them every match now. If I do twist them, I have a head start so it's not going to go as far, and during the match the swelling will stay down. Just doing everything I can. Those ankle twists have really set me back a whole lot.
Q. You just mentioned how oblivious and unaware you were coming on tour. With the young girls you see today, is there something different in their mentality, maturity?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I'm not just talking about young girls on the tour; just young people in general. All you have to do is watch a video on MTV and you know a lot about the world. Things I think have changed. Even with my nephews and nieces, they just are so much faster than what I was. I think it's just the way of the world.
Q. Istanbul, this week it's going to be the site of a huge soccer match. Traditionally it's been a meeting ground of cultures. Looking at it as a meeting ground of east and west, were you touched?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand the question.
Q. Did you have any impressions of Istanbul in terms of it being a meeting ground of eastern and western cultures?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think the history there just speaks for itself. I guess at this time it's pretty even as far as there being kind of more Turkish people, more Muslims. I think historically for me it was very interesting. I'm not sure what you're talking about with the soccer. I follow tennis, not soccer.
Q. It's going to host its largest international sporting event later this week.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a great city. I think a lot of parts of the world have been put off because, you know, of recent events in the world, the climate of the world politically, that kind of thing, and also because it's mostly a Muslim religion country. I think by having tennis events and having these kind of soccer events, that kind of thing, will bring people back. I think a lot of people in the States also don't know too much about Turkey, that kind of thing.
I enjoyed it. I was hoping to be part of something bigger than what I'm doing, hitting balls back and forth.
Q. Can you tell us where your discussions are with Zina in terms of the next round of Fed Cup, what you're feeling the likelihood you'll show?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love Zina. I just feel like if she's the captain, I always want to play for her. But I think she also probably needs me. Is it on clay?
Q. It will be indoor clay.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously, I'm good on this surface. She'll probably need me there.
Q. So right now you're leaning towards going?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It's inside information (whispering).
May 25th, 2005, 03:36 PM
Go Vee! :woohoo:
May 25th, 2005, 04:33 PM
Venus Continues French Forward March
Photo By Susan Mullane By Richard Pagliaro
The footprints Venus Williams left on the red clay today were more than tracks tracing her trip to the third round, they were marks of her mentality. Weary of loitering behind the baseline, the 11th-seeded Williams is showing a willingness to work to the forefront of the French Open by focusing on forward thinking.
Stepping inside the baseline to aggressively attack the ball and assert her authority at net, Williams won 15 of 19 net points in scoring a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Fabiola Zuluaga.
"I like this philosophy because sometimes I'm tired of hanging out on the baseline. But I feel like it's about time to break camp," Williams said. "When I'm playing my best, I'm always, of course, moving forward. But that's pretty much anyone. All the great players are always making something happen. But I feel like I'm quite good at the net and I have like a lot of leverage."
Playing the waiting game can be vital on the slow surface that often rewards patience, but Williams is an attacking player who is at her best when she's dictating the direction of rallies. Facing the woman she defeated 6-1, 7-6(3), in the 2004 fourth round, Williams took charge in the opening set, taming her sometimes troublesome forehand by putting her body weight behind the ball and extending through the shot to provide the necessary net clearance.
Zuluaga, whose forehand is her best ground stroke, rallied in the second set by punishing the Williams second serve. Zuluaga won 10 of 12 second-serve points Williams delivered in the set. The second serve is typically a barometer of Venus' confidence: when she's in command she hits up and out on the second ball, but when she's struggling with her confidence her head and toss tends to drop. Williams hit five of her nine double faults in the second set and committed 19 of her 45 errors in a sloppy second set that saw her sacrifice serve three times.
Regaining her range, Williams, who prefers a high ball on her forehand side, again stepped into her shots to force Zuluaga to play defense in wrapping up the win.
"It was a challenging match, but I think the best part was, you know, she's a player with variety, so sometimes she's hitting harder and sometimes she's hitting with more spin," Williams said. "So I got to see everything which, you know, I'll see throughout the rest of the tournament."
Next up for the 2002 French Open finalist is a third-round meeting with talented teen Sesil Karatantcheva, who dismissed 19th-seeded Shinobu Asagoe, 7-5, 6-2. In her Roland Garros debut, Karatantcheva may be short on experience, but certainly does need to dig in the dirt for confidence.
"If you believe in yourself, have confidence in yourself, work hard and give 100 percent to what you do, I believe you can accomplish your goals — not just in tennis but in life," Karatantcheva said in a Tennis Week Interview (http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=12544). "I think I am working, training and sweating out there to try to reach my goals."
The 15-year-old Bulgarian will probably provide the pace Venus prefers. Only one woman in Williams' quarter of the draw — fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva, who beat Sanda Mamic, 7-6(7), 6-2 earlier today — is seeded higher than the former No. 1. With a favorable draw, Williams could advance to the quarterfinals for the third time in four years. The real test may come when she faces a player who can play slice or off-pace shots to her forehand. The low ball to her forehand has been Williams' weakness in recent years, but if she can continue to step into the court and move forward she has the ability to combat that shot.
U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison, who has worked with both Williams sisters in Fed Cup and Olympic competition, and former American Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King, who were both outstanding volleyers, salivate at the prospect of Venus feasting on volleys at the net.
"Watch how she runs. Watch her wing span," King told Tennis Week in a past interview. "If Venus would get to the net more often, I think she'd do better. They can't go over her, they can't go by her, but she tends to wait. It would be nice to see her go to net more often and use that wing span. She really does volley well so that would be the only thing I'd like to see more of."
In February, Venus said her goal was to claim a new title — WTA Tour Comeback Player of the Year. While she has a more work to do, Williams has stretched her winning streak to eight matches — her longest winning streak since she reeled off 15 straight matches a year ago in capturing consecutive clay-court championships in Charleston and Warsaw and reaching the Berlin final.
"2004 was difficult for me, I hope that this year will be better," Williams said. "I feel strong. You can never tell what is going to happen, of course, but when I play I feel well. I am not hurting at all, I am not injured and I have felt fine since the last U.S. Open. I want to be the comeback player of the year."