Q. How did you like your game today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played okay, you know, for a first round match. Sometimes those always can be a little bit shaky. But I think I had the opportunity to hit a lot of balls, hit a few returns, so that's always good.
Q. Did you feel any pressure out there as the ladies' defender on centre court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at all. I don't really feel any pressure to. Having won last year was really a dream come true. Whether or not I win this year has nothing to do if I won last year, in my opinion, because I still want the title just as much. So I don't feel any pressure to defend. If anything, I would just like to win again.
Q. Serena said yesterday she found her mind wandering occasionally. Did you find it difficult to concentrate today? Looked as though maybe you did early on.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't have any difficulty concentrating. I think it's easy to lose focus, especially when you're winning easily. But I didn't have any issues with that at all.
Q. Did you lose focus early on, all those unforced errors?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I really just started going for too much. I wanted every shot to be great and perfect. Sometimes you have to play 50%, not 100. I was able to crawl out of it. But, you know, I did have some errors. All I can do is learn from it, just go back on the practise court.
Q. How did you find the weather today out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it was hot. But I had a little preparation, living in Florida. But it's quite hot.
Q. We saw you revealing your new dress today. I was just wondering, apparently we heard that you had a new lucky charm that you were going to be showing today.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. It's just a rumor. I don't have any lucky charms.
Q. You don't have any superstitions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do, but I don't have any lucky charms.
Q. What are your superstitions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just like to wear the same style dress every time. If I kind of defer from that, then I start to believe that I'll be less successful. So I have to try a dress out in doubles before it can be ready for single's.
Q. Would it be fair to say that Bobby is your lucky charm?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, Bob has been having some discipline problems lately.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Is that why your game is fluctuating?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As a mom, you've got to worry. He's doing okay. I heard he escaped some disciplining. While the other dogs were being disciplined, he ran under the couch so nobody could reach him.
Q. If Bobby were here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If Bobby were here, he'd be a joy every day. He helps me warm up on the court. He's quite noisy. He just makes you feel good. He's a feel-good dog.
Q. Given the importance of this dog issue, what type of dog is Bobby?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Bobby is a Yorkshire terrier. I'll have to bring a picture next time. Serena has pictures in her purse. I do, too, but I didn't bring it.
Q. What is it like to walk on here and being the defending champion? How is it different than last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel really motivated. Anytime you come to Wimbledon, in my opinion, you just have to feel motivated, especially when you walk out on centre. There's really no better feeling. The court is so perfect, it's the best grass court I've ever played on in my life, including all the other courts at this facility. I love being there. 1:00 start on Tuesday, I came through.
Q. The thrill of winning last year, was it as great for you as you would have anticipated going in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was super. I think you have a lot more feeling when you lose because it's just so hard, especially when you lose a tough match, it's really tough to get going again. When you win, everything's perfect. But I think you have a lot more feelings when you lose a match. So I just want to keep winning.
Q. What about winning specifically here at Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was real nice. My first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. That's really a top pick, in my opinion. If I could choose one to win first, it would have to be this one. Really a dream come true.
Q. Your dad wondered whether the French would have been on your mind today at all. That is accurate?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, definitely I was thinking about it. You know, I still haven't gotten over it. I feel really deprived not having been able to compete there. I really felt I had a good chance. I think the draw really opened up, too, all the players either withdrawing or falling out. Yeah, I don't think I'll ever get over it.
Q. How did you spend the time between the French and now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I got a just punishment. I went home, had to face all types of heat, and I got bit by a lot of bugs. I was punished. I was motivated enough to win my match so I could stay here at Wimbledon.
Q. Lack of match play has never really seemed to be a deterrent for you. Are you the kind of player that gets a lot out of your practise time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I try to get as much out of my practise times as possible. If I'm not practising effectively, I might as well not be practising. That's how I feel. Really, I try to do a lot of my work in my mind. I try to really be prepared before I come to the tournament so I don't have to work on anything at all, I have it all together when I get here. When I arrive at a tournament, all I have to do is just maintain my game. That's really what I focus on. I think you have to win the battle in your mind first before you go out there on the court. So I think that's one of the reasons why I don't have to compete as much as the next player.
Q. Are you trying to be any kind of a different player this year? Anything you're doing differently than last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. I think everything I did last year was quite good. If I could just do what I did last year, I think that would be perfect. Move forward, just execute it. That's enough to win a Slam.
Q. Do you think finesse and touch still has a large role in the women's game or do you see it kind of going away from there, power and aggressiveness are pretty much the number one elements now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think if you have the opportunity to bully your opponent, then you have to take that chance. Also I think that finesse and touch is also something that if you can kind of move your opponent around, being tricky, kind of having them off balance, that's perfect also. But sometimes if you have the power, it's perfect to use it. So I think it's a happy medium between both. Learning to use both is good.
Q. When do you go to touch and finesse? Normally when you're not playing as well? Do you start out saying, "If I can overpower my opponent, that's what I'm going to do. If I can't, I'm going to have to go to Plan B or C"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Normally I use less power if I'm winning easily. I take a lot off the ball, start to really enjoy myself. But if I'm not winning easily, it's a lot harder for an opponent, always having to feel that I'm pushing them back or they have to keep returning my deep balls and my hard balls, whereas if I was just hitting them softer, they feel less pressure that I'm even going to hit a winner. In my opinion, I have -- God gave me the gift of being strong, I'm going to use it.
Q. Jennifer is having such a great run. Do you feel like she's the player to beat in this tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point I don't even think she's on my side of the draw, so I haven't really thought very much about it.
Q. Is it fair to say that she's the best player in women's tennis at this point?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, at this point she has the best results, so you'd have to say that she's doing the best, whereas the rest of us have been trying, but it hasn't exactly happened.
Q. The Lawn Tennis Association says that you and your sister asked for 100,000 pounds each to help promote tennis in this country. What was your take on that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you think about it?
Q. Pardon me?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What do you think about that?
Q. I'm just reporting what the Lawn Tennis Association says. What do you reply to that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know because I haven't read anything about it, so I wouldn't be able to make an educated opinion.
Q. Would you like to help promote tennis in this country? If the opportunity arose, is that something that appeals to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think, you know, you've got to start pressuring, because in time it will come. I don't think I'd be as helpful as someone who lives in England, and someone who understands how to work with players. And also if you don't know the answer, how could I? I just finished being a kid myself, so I'm just trying to grow up.
Q. Are you a little surprised that you're essentially in the same position this year that you were last year where you came in here not playing your best tennis, you'd been injured, taking a lot of time off, and now you're in a position where you have to kind of step up, win Wimbledon, go through the summer, have a big run?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What was the question?
Q. The question is, are you a little surprised that you're in the same position this year that you were last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think I worked hard enough. I deserve to be in this position. It's okay. I'm not doing that bad.
Q. Apart from all the hours and hours of preparation all the players put in, back to this superstition point. Is it fair to say that most of the players are a superstitious bunch?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think most of the players probably do have their pet peeves. It's hard to get rid of them once you have them.
Q. Does Serena have some?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know.
Q. Serena has a little dog?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. She has two now.
Jun 29th, 2001, 12:48 AM
<u><font size=3>Day 4</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def. D. Hantuchova 6-3 6-2</font>
MODERATOR: Questions for Venus.
Q. That was a very hard game for you today.
VENUS WILLIAMS: In the first set, I had a lot of opportunities, but I wasn't capitalizing. I was just kind of rushing. After that rain delay I said, "If I don't hit the ball over the net, then she can't hit the ball over the net. I have to hit it back so she can hit it back." That kind of slowed things down in my mind.
Q. How far away are you from reaching your best form, do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I'm not that far away at all. I just think at times -- I think I'm setting up well, moving my feet well, I think I'm serving quite well also. I think sometimes I'm just a little bit off with my shots, the contact point.
Really, it's not about who's playing the best, it's about who's making the decisions at the right times, who's playing the right points well.
Q. Is it like you sort of want to progress as the tournament goes on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, definitely.
Q. I just wondered, how impressed were you with her? She's only 18. She's a big, tall kid. What would you say are some of her strengths and weaknesses?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really see any weaknesses at all, except for she hasn't played as much as maybe the next person has. That would have been me today (smiling). Some things are even predictable if you have a little bit of experience. All she has to do is just keep working hard, believing in herself. Basically that's all you have to do - for anyone.
Q. Do you think she has the raw talent for the Top 20 sort of thing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely think so.
Q. It was recently written that you and Serena wielded an authority like no one else in the game; if you were male, that you would be applauded for your intensity and your competitive streak; because you're women, black women, you're seen to be caddy; and to quote McEnroe, that you lack humility. Do you think there is a kind of double standard toward you and Serena? Could you comment on his observation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's so tough these days. I don't read anything. I'm not interested in watching the match. If I do, I put it on mute. To me, what's important in the end is how I view myself. When I'm injured or I'm retired, I'm still going to have to live with me. For me, that's all that matters. What the next person thinks is not so interesting for me.
Q. Do you feel that you and Serena do wield or do have a kind of authority on court? Is that part of your presence out there, a part of your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that when people come out to play us, I think they hope that we have a bad day because if we don't, it's pretty rough - especially in doubles (laughter). If one of us is having a bad day, the other one isn't going to. The other one is going to hold the team up with all the force.
Really, if we don't have a bad day, then we're pretty merciless. Even if we do, it's a rough game. We just have to play more consistently.
Q. Talk about Serena a little bit, how you think she's grown up and matured in the last couple years?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as her tennis?
Q. Tennis and dealing with tennis. Lindsay was in here talking about growing up on tour earlier. She really went from 18 to 20, you've seen her the most, how do you think of how she's done?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's doing well. I'm proud of her, everything she does. You know, I'm proud of her off the court, too. She works hard. Most of all, she makes good decisions with her life. That's the most important thing.
As far as growing up, I think Serena has a lot more to do still. Maybe because she's the youngest, she doesn't get her way, she might abuse me, yell at me (laughter). I back down. Maybe I have to stop doing that.
Q. How do you view what Jennifer Capriati has done to turn around her life and career? Do you and other players find yourselves rooting for her to a degree?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was really happy for her in her Australian Open victory. Most of all, I was happy for her parents, too, because they've worked so hard. You can see the work they put in.
As far as the French Open, I was so focusing on myself. I didn't even know the result till quite a few days later. Up until now, she's had great results. At this point she's actually one of the best players in the world. You can only applaud her.
Q. What do you think of her story, what she's done?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think it's tough because everyone has put so much emphasis on the past, and right now is the future. I think we should just be happy for her and let her move on.
Q. Do you consider her right now at the level where you and Serena and the best players in the world are on a consistent basis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I haven't played her recently. But she's playing well, more than anything else. I haven't played her in a while. One day I will. It will be a good match.
Q. Has what happened to Jennifer demonstrated you can't have other influences in your life - even though you would want to have friends, boyfriends - you cannot have that if you want to be successful at tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's hard to find that happy medium. For everyone, it's different. I don't know. I think for everyone, it's different.
Q. The image of you leaping in joy at the end of Wimbledon last year after match point was one of the great images in tennis in recent years. Can you remember anything that was going through your mind then or in the moments after that? Was that the happiest moment in your tennis career?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Well, you know, I don't know what I was thinking. I was just pretty intense by then because it was a tiebreaker, and I was just determined to run every ball down. I was determined to play well. I just wanted one more point, one more point every time. Take one more point until all the points were for me. It was a nice time. That's my title - no one else's.
For me, it's more about this year now.
Q. Was that your happiest moment thus far?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I can't say it was. I've had so many happy moments. That surely was a happy moment. It's kind of like I've been planning all my life for these moments. I've worked hard. More than anything, I believed I'd be there. For me, it wasn't a surprise that I did because I had a plan.
Q. Do you feel like one of the older players? Hard to say that at your age. You've been around four or five years now.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've been in and out, you know (smiling).
I guess I'm getting there. I'm 21 now. Can rent a car maybe, so...
Q. Do you know if you and Serena plan to play for the US in Fed Cup in Spain in October or November?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's in Spain?
Q. I think it is.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never been to Spain. I want to. If I go to school, it makes it tough. I can only have three weeks where I can either play or have time for myself. All the other weeks, I have to be at school or else I'll be removed. They don't make any exceptions.
Q. What time period is that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: From October to December. It just depends what I decide.
Q. Someone once wrote that you felt there was nothing cooler than being smart. Is that something that you would agree with?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, being smart's one thing, and having common sense is another. There's a lot of things that goes into the combination.
But it is sweet when you can think your way through situations. Just depends. I like having smarts.
Q. In Britain at the moment, there's a big drive to get kids from cities involved in tennis. What was it like for you growing up in Los Angeles? Can you describe the area you grew up in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I lived in Compton, right on the border of Lynnwood. First I lived in Lynnwood, they changed the border, then I was in Compton. You know, went to playing tennis. Spent my allowance on the ice cream truck, doughnut truck, the candy store behind. There was another store that sold Icees, spent my money there sometimes, too. I really had a great time. I didn't have any bad times.
Q. Tennis is available, easily to everyone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. There's quite a few public courts in Compton or in the Los Angeles area. From what I saw, there were a lot of older people playing, like 35. They did have kids. They had the opportunity to start the kids. But it is accessible.
You know, everything that's involved, I don't know. Mom and dad made it happen for me.
Q. If it hadn't been for your mom and dad, would you have found it easy to work your way up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If it hadn't had been for them, I wouldn't be here talking to you.
Jun 30th, 2001, 11:39 PM
<u><font size=3>Day 6</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def. E. Likhovtseva
MODERATOR: Who would like to start?
Q. You didn't waste much time out there. Do you feel you're hitting top gear?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm definitely getting better and better. The only thing, I feel like I can get the job done even if I'm not playing my best. I feel confident in my shots. I like playing here more than anything, so I don't want to be out.
Q. What sort of an experience has it been this week as a defending champion? Do you feel it's tougher to try to repeat getting through that first week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, definitely not at all. I don't feel any pressure at all. More than anything, I just enjoy playing. I love this tournament. I really would just like to take it this year. I don't feel any pressure, and I'm happy that I don't. I know a lot of players do. And for me, I just don't feel any pressure.
Q. Has it been the week that you wanted, as you look back now and you head toward the second week of the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: There's a few things I would like to work on, I would like to see myself do better. But I am hanging on and winning, so that's most important.
Q. What do you want to improve on, Venus, what parts of your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A lot of technical things really. It would be just a lot of technical things. It's not anything like my concentration or my return of serve, my serve, although I would like to improve my return game. But everything else is like technical.
Q. You're No. 2, Lindsay is No. 3, Jennifer Capriati, who is going for her third Slam, is No. 4. When this tournament ends, Martina Hingis will still be No. 1. Is there a concern about the ranking system?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm not concerned at all. I think the results have shown that she is No. 1 at this point, and I think everyone else at this point probably hasn't deserved to be No. 1. And right now, even though she hasn't won all of the big events, she has played quite consistently and she hasn't been injured, so it does reflect how consistently she's been playing.
Q. Your dad wasn't overly happy apparently, despite Serena winning very easily the other day. Was he happier today with you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I haven't seen him. I thought he was happy with her win.
Q. Billy Jean King, I believe it was said the other day that it's the job of every generation in women's tennis to advance the game. What would you say? Do you agree with that? What do you think is the job of your generation to advance the women's game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think, sure, I think it's really brave and actually a good idea for all the current players to advance the game. But I don't think it's really happening today, not in the way it used to. I guess priorities are different. Even in the fact that kind of tennis runs on its own, whether you're here or not. It's become more commercial. So there's some different variables involved.
Q. So are you saying the game is not being advanced these days?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think the game is advancing, for sure. But I don't think the players have to do as much maybe as they did in the past for it to advance because at that point, the game really grew, back in the '70s and '80s. Now it's kind of stabilized.
Q. Are you always supremely confident when you walk out on any of the courts as Wimbledon?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Depends on how hard I practised before I got here. At this rate, yes.
Q. You feel confident at the moment?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I do. Thank you.
Q. Although you won the match quite easily and simply, you made a number of unforced errors. Were these because you were going for the shots more or were they, as it were, inadvertent, that you played loosely?
VENUS WILLIAMS: How many were there?
Q. I would have thought about eight or nine that you wouldn't have wanted to make.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, that happens sometimes. Really, once you get in the more important matches, you would like to close out in those kind of things, really not make those errors. You know, that's something I'm going to have to work on. I've been kind of doing that this whole first week. But I know it's something I can clean up.
Q. Do you feel going into the second week it's like a different tournament now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really because the matches I've played, no one has given me anything. They've tried to beat me. If anything, it would be more dangerous because at times you do play players that you have not heard of who are extraordinarily motivated because they're trying to move forward in their careers; you play younger players.
I think in both weeks you have to be equally as serious because no one wants to lose, no one wants to walk off the court a loser, no one wants to go home anymore. That's something you have to realise. I play hard every time.
Q. What do you think of going to the WTA Championships from New York to Munich?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I kind of like Munich. I've been twice, once for the Grand Slam Cup, that's no longer. So now The Championships are there. More than anything, I had good memories in Munich, so that makes it kind of a happy place for me.
Q. And the World Championships, that would be just another title or is it something special?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it's definitely something special, the World Championships. It's the year-end event. Don't want to end the year with a loss; I want to end the year with a win, on a positive note.
Q. I was surprised to hear you say that you felt that Hingis was the best player in the world, if I heard correctly. Are you saying that not being hurt, playing consistently, reaching quarters, semis and finals is a more important measure than doing well in the biggest events in the sport?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wouldn't say -- as a professional for me, it's more important to win the big ones than to finish well. Finishing well for me isn't enough, especially at this point in my career. When I was younger, maybe it was okay, but now it isn't for me anymore.
But I think at this point everyone else has been injured or in and out or up and down. At this point she has played the most consistently. And I don't think at this point anyone else would exactly deserve to be No. 1. She deserves the spot, and that's why she's there. Anyone else deserving will be No. 1, and they'll stay there. So at this point it's her.
Q. Even Jennifer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, she's working her way there, just like me, just like everyone else. Really, you just have to play well for quite a while to get there, to prove that you are the best.
Q. Is getting to No. 1 for you very important? How does it compare to maybe winning a championship like Wimbledon again? Which would be more important for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Winning Wimbledon, more important for me.
Q. Why is that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I love it here. I like this Grand Slam. I don't like to lose at the Grand Slams at all. Sure, if you can play well in the Grand Slams, it's pretty much a guarantee that you can have the No. 1 ranking.
Q. What of Petrova?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm playing her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh (smiling).
Serena has played her in the last three Grand Slams. Petrova has not been the victor. She might take her anger out on me. I hope that doesn't happen. But she's a good player. She gets a good hit on the ball. I think that she's playing pretty well and she's playing better with every tournament. She's quite young.
But, I'll walk on the court, just going to concentrate on me.
Jul 3rd, 2001, 01:18 AM
<u><font size=3>Day 7</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def. N. Petrova
Q. If you could I guess assess your play, your thoughts at this point in the tournament.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my groundstrokes were a lot better today. My movement was very good. But my serve was a little bit down , really just my first serve percentage, whereas in the rest of my matches I've been serving quite well. Pretty confident I can bring it up.
Q. Obviously, tomorrow a lot of people are going to be talking about your sister's match with Jennifer just because it's a headline match-up, I guess. Your thoughts on that match and maybe what Serena is going to have to do to get through.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I'm going to be hoping Serena wins all the way. She's my sister. I want the best for her. You know, I think in the previous matches she's played against Jennifer, they've been very close. But I don't think Serena's performed nearly as well as what she can do. I think she's just been given a lot of effort in those matches, and I think that's why they've been close. I think Serena picked up the level of her game today. She's just going to have to go out there and compete. She has a choice to compete well and compete badly. She has to make that choice.
Q. How do you feel about playing somebody as old as Tauziat?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just feel no difference. Each person is a competitor once they walk on the court, and possibly trying to beat me, so that's how I see it.
Q. Generally, how do you see the match against her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I just think that I'm going to have to stay calm and not get rushed at all, just stick to my guns.
Q. Is there more of a challenge playing someone like that, who is more experienced on grass?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it's just playing a different player. Everyone's different. You keep that in mind when you play them, what their strong points are and what their weaknesses are. So that's how I approach every match, a different match against a different player.
Q. Serena said she bought her dress already for the Wimbledon ball. Have you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did. But, you know, nothing about the ball dress yet. Mostly the tennis ball.
Q. Serena mentioned how your father had encouraged you to step it up in the second week, to bring it up another notch. Can you give us any insight or detail on that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, he did. I was playing okay in the first week, but not nearly up to my potential. I was really making quite a few errors at random, basically two or three a match. Even though the scores were easy, I was making the games a lot harder. Whereas today, the score was easy and I won quite easy. So that was nice.
Q. Are you all friendly with Jennifer? Do you feel like you have maybe an intimidation factor over her with the fact that her mental breakdowns, I guess, against you at the Ericsson, letting three match points get away against Serena at the French?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't really know her. She's a little bit older than what I am. She's probably more serious about life than what I would be at this point. And as far as a mental advantage, I think that everyone walks on the court to play me, they have to be ready to play well. And I think she knows she has to play well against both of us. Really, I don't think it's a problem for her, and it shouldn't be a problem for anyone because if you come out and play a top player, you do have to play well to beat them. I think she keeps that in mind, not only when she's playing me, but any top player - in fact, these days, any player.
Q. You've always admired Sampras. Do you see yourself being able to win this tournament as many times as he has?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it would be a dream come true just never to have to lose here, yeah. Never have to walk home a loser. That would be great. But you win some, you lose some. He's lost a few here before he got his wonderful record. And I've had my losses, actually, since '97. So maybe I'm done paying all my dues.
Q. The other day you said that you were just finishing getting over being a kid, now you have to grow up. Is it more fun in some ways being a kid? Do you miss that? Are you looking forward to the challenges?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't feel like I had to grow up. Just saying I'm starting to grow up. I think that I'm not going to lose as many things. I'm going to hang on to the things, especially the things that I like. So I've made that pact with myself. I'm going to keep my little things.
Q. What are some of those things?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just little things like hairpins that I really like. I won't just throw them around. I'll put them in one place all the time. Because I really like them. If I let Serena borrow them, I'll make them give them back. A little hair band my mom gave me, I've had it for six months now. I really like it. Maybe she didn't give it to me, but it's mine now. Just things that I'd like to keep. No need to keep wasting money by going out and buying more. I'm trying to be more parsimonious.
Q. Will you talk strategy with Serena tonight at all? Do you guys talk about it? Will she help you at all for your match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I guess so, we'll talk about the match. Maybe, I guess. Sure, it's a good idea.
Q. Anything you would say to her about Jennifer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: "Play your game." That's all she has to do really. She has a great game. If she gets out there and plays, it's going to be rough for anyone, as long as she competes well. If Jennifer beats her, and Serena has played well, then kudos for Jennifer.
Q. Would you talk a bit about playing Navratilova for the second year in the doubles? You cut short her ambitions last year.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's just basically Serena and I, we love doubles, and we hate to lose in the doubles. We don't like to lose in the doubles, especially before we lose in the singles. No losses for us, especially before singles. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe if I was playing Navratilova in singles, I'd feel a little differently. It's just another match for me.
Q. She has a better partner this year.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't exactly say that she has a better partner. De Swardt was a good player. She had a big serve. I think that helped her out a lot. Haven't played Sanchez in doubles in a little while, but I know she's a good doubles player. I don't know, we'll see.
Jul 4th, 2001, 12:24 AM
<u><font size=3>Day 8</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def.N. Tauziat
MODERATOR: Venus Williams. Who would like to start?
Q. What happened there at 5-1 in the first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think maybe I got a little overconfident and then she started to play a lot better, and I felt a little rushed.
But I was able to say, "You better calm down and get through it."
Q. How do you feel your relationship is with the Wimbledon crowds now that you're coming back as champion? Does it make a difference in the reaction to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think they're quite nice. I think they're very nice, and very supportive. Get a lot of support here, a lot more than other places.
Q. (Inaudible) than last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember. A lot of times you don't even hear the crowd. You're really just focusing on your thing. A lot of times I'm not thinking about the crowd.
Q. What are you going to have to sharpen up in your game for the semis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing well already. I think today was just a different match because I was playing a serve and volleyer. She knew if she was going to beat me, she was going to have to come into the net because she wasn't going to be able to beat me from the line, from the baseline. But my passing shots were nice today, so that helps me out.
But, you know, I think I'm ready. I'm feeling well. Especially in my Round of 16, I did a lot better than my first previous three matches.
Q. Which of the two girls would you like to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I usually pick the higher-ranked player.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It helps my ranking (smiling).
Q. Have you ever played Kim Clijsters?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I have not played her before.
Q. You saw her playing already here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. Just a few points here and there.
Q. Do you think you have a shot against her, no problem?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I think I have a shot against anyone, and who knows. But, like I said, I'll just play the winner. If she's the winner, I think that would be sweet for her.
But we'll see.
Q. What are your thoughts about playing Lindsay?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll be ready. I think maybe she hasn't been playing her best game. She's played a few tough players like Dokic. It was good to come through that match.
But at this point I'm just focusing on myself, really just playing out there, showing no fear.
Q. Serena seemed to have a difficult time on court today with some indigestion. Did she exhibit any problems like that this morning at home?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I think you have to talk to her about that. I'm just going to be quiet.
Q. You didn't have any discussion after about pulling out of the doubles because of her problems with the singles match, did you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I haven't really spoken to her.
Q. How does your form compare to last year? It was a dream year with 35 wins in a row, Olympics, US, Wimbledon. How does it compare? How are you playing now compared to your peak last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing okay. A year later, I'm a little bit wiser, I know a little more. I think can I get that kind of form again. Once you've done it once, you can do it again. That's what I feel like. You know what it takes.
Q. What were the keys to last year's match against Davenport? Are things very different in your games, respective games, this year if you were to face her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think our games are different. None of us have switched from a two-hand to a one-hand or become a serve and volleyer. We're pretty much using the same weapons that we used last year. That's all.
Q. What were the keys, though, last year? What would you try to capitalize on this year if you faced her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think the key is I really wanted to win, I really did. I wanted it all for me. I think that was the whole key. She was a little off, too. She had back problems last year. And I don't think she played her best.
But, I don't know.
Q. How important is serving well, though, when you play against the other elite players, especially on grass?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think serving well is important. But I think that even if I don't serve well, I can still win. A lot of times if I don't hit a big first serve, I can still rely on my speed to run down any ball. So I don't really feel threatened against my serve always.
Q. When Serena suffers a tough loss like today, do you sort of see it as part of your role as her big sister to give her some words of support? Secondly, when she does get knocked out of a tournament, does that give you a little extra motivation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it's not my role to criticize or tell her what she did wrong. I'm sure she knows what may have happened. I didn't really see the match. I saw like the last game.
But, you know, yeah, sure, I love supporting her, all the way to the end.
Q. And now that she's out, in any way do you think you'll have just a little bit extra motivation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, let's hope so. If I can't do it for myself, I'll do it for her.
Q. What are your thoughts on Clijsters as a player?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's a very good player. She has great groundstrokes, a good serve. I haven't really played her. Seems like Serena plays her. I just never had the opportunity yet.
Q. You saw her play Serena in the desert.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh-huh, yeah.
Q. What were your thoughts about watching her play then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's playing well. I think she's playing a lot better than what she was about a year ago. But she was younger then. She's been through a lot more matches. She was at the French Open final, where she almost won, I guess. So I think she's come a long way since then. She's probably feeling good coming off of that match.
Q. Can you tell us something about your long-term ambitions? I imagine when you were young, your ambitions were to win Wimbledon. What are your long-term ambitions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as what?
Q. What are your long-term ambitions?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know (laughter). To stay healthy, that's one. If I can just keep playing on the tour, and without injuries, then I think I can do well. You know, ups and downs.
Q. To beat somebody's record or anything like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, because I didn't start myself in tennis. It wasn't like I was self-motivated. My dad started me. It was his dream before it was mine. So I think if it was the other way around, I would have different motivations.
But for me, I just want to play tennis, I want to play well every time, give my best. When I'm done, I'm done.
Q. So if it was his dream, what is your dream now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To win Wimbledon in 2001.
Q. The other day you said you had a plan in terms of winning Wimbledon last year. Do you have a plan this year? Can you share just a little bit of it with us?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I think just playing better and better actually with all my matches. And I think really it's just about the person who's going to do the right thing at the right time, who's going to be willing to do it. So that should be my plan.
Really right now I'm just ready for my semifinal.
Q. Do you worry that people will misunderstand you or your family because of the kind of struggle, I guess, people to understand whose dream it is for you to be playing tennis, kind of what your dad's role is? Do you worry that people will misunderstand and maybe, I don't know, become indifferent to your success?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't worry. I don't go to bed at night worried about it really. No, never crossed my mind.
Q. At what time your dad's dream became your dream?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I was just out there playing.
Q. Was it at an early stage?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. I was just playing tennis. I guess once I got older, close to 10 or 11 or 12 is when I really started to be -- to really, I guess, like tennis or really realise what was going on.
I really don't know, to be honest. I don't remember.
Q. Is it important for you to be liked out there as a tennis player or as a person, or not?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Wasn't that like the chief theme of Death of a Salesman, to be well-liked? What happened to them.
So, I just think that you got to like yourself first. If that doesn't help, you've lost.
Q. When did you see Death of a Salesman or did you just read it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I read the book.
Q. A while ago or recently?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was in high school.
Q. Did it depress you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought it was sad. I was waiting for the punch. And it was just -- I thought it was sad really because, you know, I think they live their lives in a way that could have been -- that was less than what it could have been. It was just a story, though. Thank God it wasn't real people.
Q. Tauziat talked about the power players. Do you think people focus too much on the power and maybe miss other aspects of your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess so. In general, I do use my power. I don't always -- I don't hit every ball as hard as I can. But for me I think it's a chief asset. Even today when I wanted to get a free point, put a little more mustard on the ball, it's mine. Not always, but in general it is.
That's the way I play. I can mix it up. Whatever it takes, that's what I like to do.
Jul 6th, 2001, 01:35 AM
<u><font size=3>Day 10</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def. L. Davenport
6-2, 6-7, 6-1</font>
MODERATOR: Venus Williams. Who would like to start?
Q. Turned into a much tougher match than it started out for you. What happened?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, I just think she started to play a lot better. She started to hit a lot of penetrating balls. I felt really like I was on my back foot. Then I made a few loose shots, too.
But I think really it was her.
Q. How did you turn it around in the third set after that breaker?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I really just didn't feel like I was going to go home without the win. I just think it was how I was feeling. So I really think it was just that.
And basically she had played well. I had missed a few shots. I think the third set I had about one unforced error. So I think that helped a lot.
Q. You talked a lot the other day about really wanting this title last year. Can you talk about how much you really want it this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm just playing well, maybe even better at this point in this semifinal than what I did last year in the semifinals.
So for me that's really exciting.
Q. What about your desire? Is it still pretty strong?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, for sure. I don't like to go home without carrying a plate or a trophy or a title or something. So I think that's motivation enough for me. I love winning here. Once you win here, it's pretty addictive.
Q. What about you personally, do you really get a rush from winning?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, I love to win. But I don't think I get a rush.
Q. Could you talk a little about facing Justine in the finals. Were you expecting Jennifer?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, I thought the match could go either way. Justine's a very good player. Everyone wants to get to the finals these days. Everyone wants to win. So really you have to watch out for every player. For me, it wasn't very surprising.
Q. She's beaten you in your only meeting. What is it going to take to reverse that result?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, the last time we played, I was just really moving kind of slow. I don't think I was playing as well as maybe I could have, really as well as I did today.
And, you know, I feel comfortable going into the final. I've been there once or twice before - in a big final. So I think that my chances are good.
Q. Lindsay was saying that your serve was particularly effective today. Have you served better than that? Is there any reason why it's so on lately?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it just seems that when it comes time, to the larger matches, I'm just able to raise the level of my game to really a high degree, which makes me think, "Why didn't I play so well in the first rounds?" But maybe I didn't have to play that well.
In the beginning of the tournament, I really struggled a lot with unforced errors. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop making them. Really, I started cutting them out, finally. And today I knew I'd have to serve well.
Really, any match, when I serve well, it's just so much easier for me. And I think it makes my opponent think a lot about having to break me. So if I can serve well, then it's really important in the match.
Q. Do you think you have to play against a big player to show your true form?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I just think I have to play a big match. But it's nice playing someone like Lindsay, especially in a big match like this, because it really proves to yourself what level you're on, where you need to improve.
For me, I think I've done my homework.
Q. You're one win away from back-to-back Wimbledon titles, which hasn't been done since Steffi Graf. What would it mean to you to be in that same breath with a champion like her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm just doing my best. I'll just have to do whatever it takes. For now, I'm just, you know, putting everything behind me because, now that I've been able to be victorious today, I have to look forward to the next day.
I did play well today. I'm just trying to move on. And really for me it's not about making history; it's just about trying to win Wimbledon 2001.
Q. I think Jennifer suggested she perhaps underestimated Justine a bit. Any danger that you might do that? If so, how do you avoid that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so. My mom told me never to underestimate anyone. So I take that good advice.
You have to be playing pretty good tennis to get to the finals of a Wimbledon. That says a lot. So I'm going to be out there hopefully rowing like I did today.
Q. Do you plan to come back for many years? There was some talk earlier in the week about thinking very early - you're very young -about early retirement. Is that something that ever really crosses your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at this point. I'm too young to be thinking about retiring.
Q. You said last year when Martina was up, everyone was talking about her coming back here at 43; you didn't ever see yourself coming back here at 43. When do you see tennis ending for you and what would you do later in life? Do you ever think about those things?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's too early to be talking about the end. I'm not there yet.
As far as what I'd do at the end of my career, I want to do something that I enjoy, but I don't want to do too much. I don't want to work too hard, so...
Maybe I'll be a couch potato (laughter).
Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard have your first six matches been?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes they've been very difficult because, not only was I playing against my opponent, I was also playing against myself. And really it was all I could do sometimes just to keep the ball in play.
You know, as the tournament went on, kind of -- I naturally raised the level of my game. For me it's nice to have that kind of built-in ability. But my last three matches have been a lot more easier for me. Even though I played better opponents, they've really just been a lot easier because I've been executing a lot better on my shots.
Q. Is it hard for you to go out and practice, do all the things that it takes for you to keep this high level?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think that if I practice more, then maybe I would have had a better part of this year. But that's okay. I had a good time whatever I was doing. I guess it was worthwhile.
Sometimes it is hard to practice because I get a little bored with practicing. It's not always fun. I think, you know, some of the champions like Steffi Graf or Ivan Lendl, that's where they really excelled, because they excelled in practice, and they were able to do well in their matches because of that. Maybe I have to get the same attitude.
Q. Last year at this same stage obviously you were thinking about the final. How do you prepare for the final? Do you repeat the same preparations this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember at all. But it's like I knew I was going to win last year - after the semifinal, I just knew it. I don't know, I just felt that way.
Hopefully I'll have that same feeling this year.
Q. Are you going to practice? Are you going to drive around London? I heard you've been trying to work out the roads in London, roundabouts.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I do drive, but only if I have to get somewhere. I don't drive leisurely, and I don't go to London. I hit the grocery store, drop a few people off. I'm a designated driver now.
Q. Is it strange not having Serena here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it is. I was sad because on my day off the other day, I woke up early, went for a walk. Normally I have my dog with me when I was doing that, or Serena. You know, I was sad that we couldn't do our little shopping together. You know, I've got to do it for her now.
But, you know, she called me, and she said, "Bring the title home." She was very serious about it. So I feel pressured now to bring it home.
Q. Was that after your match with Lindsay?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I really don't talk too much with my phone, I've tried to cut it down.
Q. What was that last phone bill?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't look at it anymore. I've now put it on my credit card so that way I can still get points, so I don't really have to look at it.
Q. You said you hoped to have that same feeling that you were going to win, but you don't yet?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it's so close after the match now. But last year, I was kind of going home in the car, I just felt like I was going to win. This year's totally different. New year; new opponent; new game. So, really, I just think I have to just play well, serve well.
Q. Does it surprise you to see someone her size generate that much power off both sides, but especially the backhand?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's good for her. You know, when you have power, I think that helps you out a lot, especially in tough situations. You don't have to hope that the next person miss. Maybe you can make something happen. So that's good for her.
Q. If you play 100%, would that be enough against Justine Henin? Will you decide the final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope so. If I play a hundred percent, I can't do more. So if that's not enough, then too bad for me.
Jul 9th, 2001, 01:47 AM
<u><font size=3>Day 13</font></u>
<font color=red>V. WILLIAMS def. J. Henin
6-1, 3-6, 6-0</font>
MODERATOR: Who would like to start?
Q. What does it feel like to emulate Althea Gibson?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Am I trying to emulate Althea?
Q. She won twice.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I can't say I'm trying to emulate her. Really, I was just trying to make my own success.
Q. Your celebration seemed much more subdued than last year. What was the reason for that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it was the fact that I was up 5-Love, and last year, you know, I won in a tough tiebreaker, so it was two different circumstances.
Q. Does this one mean as much to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I think it means more to me.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because I had to work a lot harder to win this one. In my first rounds, I was really not playing very well. I really just kind of had to force myself to play good tennis. So for me it was a real effort.
Q. Was that third set one of the best you've ever played?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe yes and no. Yes because I played a very good set, in important situations, which is super for me. I was really relaxed at that point - really just ready to take it all. You have different feelings that you go through when you're playing. At that point I was really ready to go.
Q. You look at this in a newspaper or something tomorrow, you say, "What a strange match." You lose one game in the first and third sets combined, then she beats you in the second set. How did it go so up and down?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think in the second set, we were on serve. It was just one break toward the end. Surely if you're going to get broken, it's better to get broken maybe in the beginning and not the end. And I didn't play as many good points as maybe I should have, and she played better points than me.
But maybe it was just experience that came through, or maybe she was a little nervous in the third - I don't know. But I'm happy it went my way.
Q. You seemed to whisper a few words immediately after the match. Can you convey what you said to her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I just didn't want her to be upset because she'll have her chance. She plays very well. She plays a lot of gutsy matches. If she just keeps playing the way she is, good things are bound to happen.
Q. You've won three of the last five majors, which is an extraordinary accomplishment. Martina Hingis hasn't won for over two and a half years. Do you feel you're now the best player in the world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm the best player today (smiling).
I really am happy about this whole two weeks because for me this is the first time where I've served very well every match that I've played. For me, that's a good breakthrough. I always served well at the important points - no double-faults or any of that stuff. So for me that's a good thing. Really just moving forward.
Last year I don't think I worked as hard as maybe I should have after my wins. I was just tired. So when you're tired, there's not a lot of motivation to get better. But this year I'm going to take it a little differently, I'm going to work a little harder.
Q. People are always interested in who the best player is overall. You obviously are the best player today. Overall, in the big picture, are you the best player?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In my mind, I'm always the best. I can't see anybody better than me. If I walk out on the court, I think the next person is better, I've already lost.
In my mind, sure, I'm best. On paper right now, I'm No. 2.
Q. Could you tell us about your feelings once the match was over, immediately afterwards?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I was really excited. You know, I love Wimbledon. It's great not to have to lose here. I haven't lost 14 matches in a row - plus the doubles, I guess. So for me that's really sweet.
It was good because, sure, it would have been nice with the crowd, maybe nice for you writing to have a tough third set. But for me, it was nice just to kind of run through it. And that was sweet.
This means just a lot more to me this year because I hadn't played as well in the other Grand Slams as I would have liked, especially with my French Open. And I really wanted it.
Q. You said you're going to do something different, take this win differently.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Last year in between Wimbledon and Stanford, two weeks from now, I didn't practice at all. I won that tournament.
Q. You didn't do so badly.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. And I won San Diego. I didn't practice that much for the US Open either - then I won two tournaments after that. At the Olympics, I didn't hit hardly at all. I'd get out there, I'd be practicing, I'd just be fooling around. Really, if you start fooling around, your game gets worse, you walk off the court.
I was a major pin collector at the Olympics. I didn't do too much practicing. I didn't really practice. I had about eight wonderful days of practice before Wimbledon, that lasted me the whole year.
Q. And this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This year I'm going to practice more.
Q. You're ready to do that? You told us the other day you don't like it so much.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I can capitalise better, just really work on more things in my game - moving forward, taking the ball early - just some new strategy that I can add to the next year coming. I didn't really do that last year.
A lot of things happened. I went to school. There wasn't a lot of time . A lot of sponsors, things to do. But I'm going to make time to practice.
Q. You talk about taking the ball earlier. You were moving in today so aggressively and consistently. How much was that part of your plan going in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely I want to move forward because no one's going to give you a Grand Slam. If you take it, you've got to move forward, or at least be willing to move forward a little bit. Even if you're not going to the net, attack the short balls, something.
That was my plan today. I didn't even want to think about it. If I see a short ball, I'm moving in. That's how I like to play.
Q. With your serve, now that you've won two of these, do you get the feeling that Centre Court is yours now, that this is a place you're going to dominate for years to come?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's going to be a great place for me years to come. I've really been serving well this past two weeks. Really, everyone I played couldn't return my serve. So for me that was a plus because I have very easy service games. If I get in a tight area, then all I have to do is serve it out.
For me, that was a real plus. It's a real plus to your game to have that ability. Serving like this on the grass makes it even more difficult because the ball is coming so fast, and it stays low. I think that was really important these past two weeks.
Q. Do you think about the record number for single's titles here and think, "I can get that"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It will be tough because, you know, I'll be older. Some people started when they were younger winning titles. My first title is at 20. If I could have started winning at 16, maybe the story would be different.
Q. Bill Clinton yesterday said that on the court you move like a gazelle. First of all, do you agree with that? How does that make you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: People have been telling me that for years - actually, ever since I was nine. Actually, I've been working on my movement because I notice that I'd really slowed down and I wasn't concentrating on really getting every ball. So this past two weeks - everything's happened in the past two weeks - really started trying to move a lot faster. That's frustrating for your opponents too. They can't get a ball past you. Once I put my mind to it, I got a lot better.
Q. (Inaudible) the crowd transferred their allegiance to the underdog?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I've had a lot of experiences like that with the crowd. Doesn't seem like that often that, you know, I'm the player that the crowd wants to win. For me, it's not as important because I want to win. Even if the crowd's on my side, I still have to win for me. I still have to hit the ball. They can't do it physically for me.
Who knows, maybe there will be a day when they root for me.
Q. They were last year. But were you aware of it today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, for sure they wanted her to win. I guess it's always nice to see the unexpected happen. But for me it's not an issue. If they don't agree with a call, it's not an issue. I don't function this way, where I have to have approval.
Q. "The Death of the Salesman" you were talking about the other day, being liked and liking yourself?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess it fits into that theory.
Q. Will you play more next year and try and become No. 1 or where does being No. 1 sit in your list of priorities?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's on the top list now. Maybe in the past, it wasn't. Grand Slams definitely are No. 1. Then No. 2, for sure, is No. 1 (laughter). Oh, boy, like a Dr. Seuss book.
Really, that's all. I have to make it a priority. I have to play more. Either that or I have to win every Grand Slam, which is not easy, so I'll play a little bit more.
Q. Earlier this tournament you said you were just getting over being a kid. Does winning three out of five Grand Slams and two Wimbledons in a row make you feel like you're growing up, or you are grown up? Does it make you change feeling like you're just getting over being a kid?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't feel changed. I'm still a kid, and I don't want to grow up yet - but I have to in some things, but not everything. So it's a happy medium.
Q. Will you go to school again in the fall?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'm not going to say what I'm going to do. I like school, but then I miss the tournaments. I do. Because there's a lot of places that I like to go. For me, I judge a tournament whether I have good memories there. For me, I'd miss all the places where I had good memories. I'm going to miss it this year, but we'll see.
Q. When you stood up out of the chair, walked to start the third set, what words were in your head?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't remember exactly. I was really ready to serve it up. At this point I was very confident in my serve. If I could return a little bit better, that's all that counted. By that point, I was just very relaxed, very loose, just really ready to compete.
Maybe when you first get out there, you're a little bit nervous or a little tight. By the time you get to the third set, you've got to be loose. I just felt very loose.
Q. How tough was the rain delay for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It wasn't tough at all. I'm used to the rain. I expect it. If it happens, it happens. I still have to play.
Q. You got introduced to that your first year here? Wasn't it five days before you played a match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't recall playing that year.
Q. How about yesterday, had to wait and wait, of course never got on court? Were you here? Did you finally realise you weren't going to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was here for a few hours. I went home, then I came back. Really, I was ready to play any time. But I think the delay helped me a lot, just to think things through, kind of make it more simple in my mind. Maybe if I played at 2:00 or whenever I was supposed to, maybe things would have went differently, I don't know.
But by the time I got around to today, I was very calm. This time I did a lot of thinking before the final - maybe more than what I needed to. I think that helped me to stop thinking as much.
Q. Is tennis a passion for you or is it just something you're really good at?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think tennis is something I'm really good at. I like playing. It's a great job. Sometimes things get really complicated, especially if you're having a really bad time in your career.
But right now, things are quite simple.
Q. Do you like kind of the celebrity that comes with it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like the upgrades, special privileges and things like that. But other than that, no. I'm just trying to be me.
Q. When is the time when it's been very hard for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, just every day, you know, going to the supermarket. If I want to get an ice cream, if I want to go to the health food store, if I want to go to the mall, or if I want to go to Blockbuster, just things like that. I just like to be solitary, just me and my little dog, we go everywhere.
Q. You say there's been times in your career when it gets complicated.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like after the Olympics, that was a really tough time. Everyone was thinking about the Olympics, I guess. But as far as when things get complicated, when you have tough losses or you're not playing very well, then tennis seems really complicated, just with the technical aspect maybe. But when you start to play well, it's not as hard.
Q. When you look back on today and this fortnight, what will stand out most for you years from now? Obviously, it's different than the first experience of winning.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Maybe the finals will because it's different playing someone like maybe Capriati in the finals than playing someone who's there for the first time. I think that will stand out. Maybe it's more difficult.
Q. More difficult in what way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, you know, she had had the win before, the one time that we had played. But that time I didn't play well, so...
This time I had a better plan.
Q. Your approach to this sport has been so unconventional, and I guess continues to be, like when you don't play as much as some of the other players. Is that something you take pride in, kind of don't want to fall in line with everyone else with a full schedule?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't like to be like everyone else. It annoys me. That's what I mean about fashion trends. Like I'll be doing something, and all of a sudden it's trendy, so I have to put it away. If I want to pull it back out, suddenly I'm out of style. I don't like that.
But with tennis -- that was irrelevant (laughter).
Really, I like to do things that make me happy. That doesn't mean I have to do everything the way maybe the next person does it. Everybody has their own way of doing things. For me, if I want to play, I'll play. If I don't, I won't. If I want to go to school or if I want to retire, for me, whatever is important for me at that point, not for what's conventional.
Q. Justine Henin today said she thinks it's going to be hard for anyone to beat you here for quite a long time. She acknowledged the other players. Do you start to sense that, that the other players now fear you maybe the way they feared Sampras here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Ooh. I don't know. We'll see. I just have to keep playing well. I think I have a good combination because I return very well on the grass, in my opinion, especially maybe my semifinal, and I serve very well. I hit my groundstrokes well, of course. Plus I'm willing to move forward when I get to Wimbledon. At other tournaments, maybe not as much. But at Wimbledon, I will move forward. I think it's a good combination.
Q. What do you think of the Duchess' outfit? A bit like Serena's dress at Roland Garros?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have to tell her.
Jul 9th, 2001, 11:13 PM
Thanks Miss Susie <IMG SRC="smilies/kiss.gif" border="0">