<font color=hotpink>S. WILLIAMS/A. Barna
4-6, 6-1, 6-2</font>
Q. What happened in the first set? You looked a little lost out there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was just way off. I made too many errors. I gave it away. And she played a good first set. She played really solid, really consistent. You've just got to give it to her for that.
Q. What did you know about her before you went on the court? Did you get a scouting report on her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Don't know her. Never seen her play. I didn't know what she looked like. But I knew before I went on, someone told me that she was a lefty.
Q. You often sort of have had a bad set, then just change gears, immediately go into the next set. How do you do that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think after a while you just get used to -- I don't know. I don't know. You know, you realize you have to change the level of your game, especially if you had a bad set in the first set, or you're going to be out of the tournament basically. That's the last thing I needed right now.
Q. How concerned are you after one set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: How concerned am I?
Q. How concerned were you after the first set, about your situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it just never crossed my mind that I was, you know, going to go out because I'm here to give my best, and I wasn't giving my best. I thought I was. In all reality, if I was, I wouldn't have made so many errors, I would have been more consistent with my serve. It was weird because I've been practicing really good. In practice, I just look like a billion dollars basically. I just knew if I'm going to practice well like that, it's going to eventually come in.
Q. After what happened at Wimbledon, have you changed your dining habits at all, what you eat, being extra careful about what food you have?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm really picky now about the food that I eat, because I have a sensitive stomach. I've had food poisoning a few times just this year alone. I'm real picky about what I eat. I make sure if I go to a restaurant, it's a classy restaurant, food's prepared different.
Q. Where have you eaten?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I haven't really. Benihana's. Other than that, I love Benihana's. I go there. If I could go there every day, I would. Unfortunately, there's not one that I live close by. I know there's one in Fort Lauderdale, but that's like 45, an hour away. I've eaten there twice. Other than that, I just eat at the hotel.
Q. You and your sister graced the cover of Time Magazine this week. I was wondering if you've had a chance to see the magazine, what your reaction is to the article?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just saw it today. I say this a million times, I never read articles, I just look at the pictures. It was a nice picture on the cover. I liked how my hair was a little aerodynamic. It was cool.
Q. In that article, Martina Hingis said, and I'll read you the quote, "Many times, you get sponsors because you and your sister are black and they have had a lot of advantages because they can always say it's racism." What do you think of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I really wouldn't know what to think of that really. I just heard this quote. I don't know. You'd have to ask her what she meant by that.
Q. She said she meant what she said.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Did she?
Q. For a long, long time the thought was just the opposite. Zina didn't get any kind of contract until she reached the finals. Sort of a half-baked situation. Do you think for a long time African Americans had trouble getting endorsement contracts? Do you think that has changed?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think in a sport that is a predominantly white sport, I think when athletes -- when people see new faces, like for instance golf with Tiger Woods, maybe if hockey were to have a superstar that was maybe Spanish or maybe black, I think then maybe it would get a few more people to watch a sport.
But as for being black and getting more endorsements because I'm black, I wouldn't know anything about that. All I know is I get endorsements because I win and I work hard. I go out there and have a good attitude and I smile. I like tennis. Whether I got endorsements or not, I don't know. All I know is that that's what I can say about it.
Q. In that same article, Martina Navratilova said other female tennis players are afraid to criticize you because you and your family will accuse them of being racist, so you get away with certain behavior that other people don't.
SERENA WILLIAMS: You can go back and read all my transcripts. I personally never said in an article or interview that, "This happened to me because I'm black." I have gone to a store and been treated differently because I was black once. Other than that, no. I mean, you can go back and read all my transcripts. Maybe that was a bit on the fabrication side.
Q. What she said was a fabrication?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, you just read my transcripts and you tell me next time. Do that for me. You guys, you writers, are getting lazy on me. You want me to tell you everything.
Q. You're not reading our stuff.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't read articles because it can ruin you.
Q. We're in the print media. We need customers.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe I'll start reading a few more.
Q. What is it going to take for you to read some?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, maybe when I retire. At the beginning, I was caught up with reading all the articles about myself. It kind of got me a little messed up in the mind. I began to expect too much of myself because I was reading what everyone else thought. I was thinking, "Wow, you know, maybe I need to think this." I just got a little bit crazy.
Now I just don't read it. I'm sorry.
Q. If you have read Time Magazine, they were comparing you and Venus to some of the fluffier sports figures around. They said, "It's far better to be filled with arrogance and aloofness and intention than to flash a saccharine Dorothy Hamill-like smile." Could you comment about that attitude?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Dorothy Hamill?
Q. The ice skating champion.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay. You guys are really reading into that. You guys are reading underneath everything. I don't know.
Can you repeat the quote?
MODERATOR: What's the point of the question?
Q. The point of the question is about the attitude that you and Venus have brought to tennis, which is a very different attitude than a conventional goody-two-shoes-like attitude. The quote is, "It's far better to be filled with arrogance and aloofness and intention than to smile a saccharine Dorothy Hamill-like smile."
MODERATOR: That quote wasn't directed towards just the Williamses, it was the players in general.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think there's a lot of new attitudes out here. In the beginning, Martina Hingis, everyone just gets different attitudes. You know, it brings a lot of excitement to the sport. Why not? More people are looking at tennis. More people are realizing that tennis is actually a fun sport to play. Tennis, it's really exciting to watch, to watch ladies actually go out there and compete, watch ladies be pretty, watch ladies sweat, do a lot of different things.
That's my answer to your question.
Q. I know in theory you want to take each match one at a time. At an event like this, how difficult is it for you to not kind of look a few matches ahead, the match-up maybe with your sister perhaps?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it's not difficult for me at all right now because I'm just focused on my next round, because I really want to do well here and I really can't accept anything less. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to do well this fortnight. I don't want to have any pejorative thoughts getting in my mind. I want to think positive at all times.
Q. You won this tournament once with dark hair. Now you're playing as a blonde. If you win it as a blonde, might you come back as a red head?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What are you talking about? I've always been blonde. This is natural (smiling).
Q. Do you prefer to play at night or day? Does it matter?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I used to like to play in the daytime. But now I like to play at night. It doesn't matter. Like today, I kind of wished that I played first match on so I could just have the rest of the day and tomorrow off.
Q. Is there any advantage playing at night? Is it more exciting, more energy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's the feature match. I don't know. I do well in night matches. I like to play at night now a lot. I get more chance to rest. I don't know. That's it, I guess. Get more opportunity to scout out your next opponent possibly.
Q. How did it feel to get back out there on the court today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Felt good. It was a little windy. I had more unforced errors than I would have liked to have had. But I'm in the second round now. It's where I wanted to be.
Q. Would you say this is probably the best way you can possibly start this tournament off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. I don't really want any hard matches, especially since my week last week. That was a tough week for me. I'd like to start off a little bit slower this week. Here I am.
Q. Are you pleased with the expanded seedings, 32 seeds instead of 16, the way it sets up for the top players?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, I suppose that makes it a little bit easier for the people who are not in the top 16 because they've worked hard to be in the position that they are with their ranking. It does help them to be rewarded for their hard work. It helps the top players to get an easier round in the beginning. So I think it works out well for everyone.
Q. A couple of kids from Compton on the cover of Time Magazine this week. How cool is it to be on the cover?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm going to have to put it in my scrapbook when I get a copy. I might not ever get this opportunity again. So it's pretty nice.
Q. Felt pretty good to see yourself on the cover?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes. I just saw it recently. I guess it just came out. It's only a week. It's pretty fleeting.
Q. Can you pronounce your opponent's name?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I can't.
Q. Obviously, you've never seen her before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hadn't seen her. She's a good player, though, very good player. She tried hard even when she was down 5-2. It probably wasn't easy for her playing the US Open wind. I'm quite used to it. I've been playing this wind since '98. Seems like I always have a match in the wind. That might have been tough for her.
Q. Would you describe the way you attack in general?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Normally I look for a short ball. I attack with my serve. A lot of times I'm attack my opponent's serve. I use a lot of power, try to keep my opponent on their guard, on their toes.
Q. And with your big serve, do you think about you can do that more a little bit?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes I serve a big one, sometimes a serve a kicker, in the body. Depends on what the score is, what the situation is, how much I want to risk.
Q. Did you notice that most of the time women attack less than men on court? Do you think it's lack of physical ability or lack of confidence?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the ladies attack as much as the guys. I think it depends on the style. Most peoples these days that are baseliners on the women and men's tour are comfortable at the baseline. No one really wants to come in. I think it depends on the style of the player, men or women.
Q. Pete has always been one of your favorites. He was in here before saying people have started worrying about him now. I was wondering about how you're feeling about him?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He was worried?
Q. Everybody is sort of asking about him, he hasn't won a tournament in 17 tries, the sympathy thing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think he's in a position in life that he wants to be in. He's been a champion all his life. Things seem to be going well for him. You don't always win. I think he's done well for himself.
Q. As you know, Zina struggled for a long time to get any kind of contract. Ironically when she reached the final, she got sort of an instant small contract. You've gotten a contract worth more than $40 million. How do you think times have changed? Do you think it's true, Martina Hingis' comment that blacks have an advantage in terms of getting sponsorship?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know much about what happened in the past. I think your best bet would be to ask Zina. Back in the '80s, even before that, I wasn't around. The '80s, I was like watching cartoons, stuff like that. I have no idea.
Q. But you're a student of the game. She couldn't get a contract for years.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
Q. Even though she was a Top 10 player.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe I should ask her about it.
Q. Have you seen much of this Ashley Harkleroad, making a lot of a splash, trying to be the next Anna Kournikova? Have you seen a lot of her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I guess you're telling me now. This is the first I've heard.
Q. You haven't seen her play at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. You're playing the woman that just beat her next. She was a former junior champion here. You never came up through the junior ranks. Can you sympathize with the pressure that these kids are under?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think pressure is really how you process it. It's not easy a lot of times, especially when you're coming through the ranks, especially if you're getting a lot of press, to deal with it.
You just have to challenge yourself to step up and move forward, to compete. Once you can break it down in your mind, make it that simple, it is quite easy.
But everyone's different. People deal with pressures in life differently. Take it one step at a time.
Q. You said pressure is how you process it. What's the biggest pressure you think you've faced in your tennis career and how have you handled it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess when I first came around, I was young. I didn't quite understand how to win just yet. I had a few tough matches. It was only about three, though, where I lost in the first round.
After that, my last first round loss, I think it was '96 in Oakland. I didn't play again until March the next year. I was really eager to play. I was very excited to play. I didn't have any problems after that.
That was my biggest challenge, I suppose.
Q. Do you plan to play in more tournaments next year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think to this part I've lived up to my commitment. I believe I only played one tournament that -- I didn't play one tournament, Rome, where I was supposed to appear. But I'm doing what's good for me. Maybe I'll play more next year. I don't know.
Q. Seem to be breezing along right now. Are you feeling in top form?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling a lot better. Most of all, I'm feeling I can get any ball right now. I feel so fast, just so quick. I feel special.
Q. Is this probably as confident as you've ever felt in a Grand Slam in the early stages?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I always really -- I guess maybe, yeah. I'm feeling really confident. But I'm just taking it one match at a time. That's two down now. I'm just trying to make it happen.
Q. You go out there and play somebody you never lost a set to, do you have that little knot in your stomach that she can do some harm?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, she's a really good player. She hits the ball really hard. If you hit it hard back to her, she hits it even harder back for a winner. She did that in a couple games, so I had to kind of change up the pace.
Playing her, I know what I have to do because I played her a few times. That's the good thing about playing people, knowing their games. The girl I played in the first round, I didn't know her game at all.
Q. Do you have any feelings one way or the other about the new seeding with the 32 seeds? Does it make any difference to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Because in the end you're going to have to play and perform and compete, so it really doesn't matter who I play.
Q. And you don't think it better to kind of get rolling into a tournament by playing theoretically a lesser player?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really don't know, honestly. As a top player and as a competitor, you have to be ready for either, you know, a Lindsay Davenport and a Venus Williams or, you know, anyone. It doesn't matter, the hundredth ranked player. They're going to come your way, one way or another, sooner or later. When you enter a tournament, if you're not ready from the first point, then you shouldn't be in the tournament.
Q. Venus was in here a couple days ago and said that she perhaps will play more next year.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She perhaps what?
Q. Would play more tournaments next year. And also with regards to a Grand Slam record, there was no reason why she hasn't done well at the Australian and French Open as she has at the other two. Can I get your thoughts?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely going to play a bit more next year, maybe in the earlier part of the year, to make sure I can do well at the Australian Open this year. Maybe I'll play more clay court events because I haven't had any clay court warm-ups before I played the French Open.
Yeah, I think -- I don't know. I definitely am going to try to do better at those two Slams in particular. Those are just as important as the rest.
Q. In golf Tiger Woods has made it clear that he plays for the majors, every event he plays he wants to win, but it's gearing up for the majors. Do you feel that way about Grand Slams?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously, you're going to have to lift up your game and lift up your mind basically when you enter in a Slam. First of all, the more you win, the better chance you have going into history. It's just been a dream since I was a young person myself, a young child, to win the Slams. So obviously I'm going to try everything I can whenever I get into a Slam.
But at the same time, I'm the type of person, I don't like to lose, I don't. I give my full effort no matter what tournament I play. For me, I definitely must agree that the Slams are really important. You get the most points. It's just a good feeling to go home with a Slam under your belt.
At the same time, I'm the type of person that would like to go out there and do the best I can in everything I do.
Q. Are you starting to take tennis a little more seriously? Sounds like you and Venus have been talking about playing more tennis next year, you're more interested in gearing up for your game. Last year was some talk of retirement down the road. This year is a little different, it seems.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've always been serious about my game. But I think now maybe I'm a little more serious, I guess, if you want to put it that way. But I'm just really geared up to move up to the next level. I've been on the same level for a little too long now. It's time to move on, let it go.
Q. What is that next level?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the next level for me is Top 3 and then top place. Obviously, I haven't been able to reach that because I'm not playing the tournaments I need to play. If you see with my results, if I played more, I definitely would be a better-ranked individual than I am right now.
Right now, I'm not even worried about rankings. I'm just going for the titles. If you get the titles, the ranking is going to come.
Sep 1st, 2001, 11:34 PM
<font color=hotblue>V. WILLIAMS/M. Tu
Q. You're not feeling all that well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm feeling okay, thank you.
Q. In the throat?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I'm okay. (Smiling).
Q. Did you feel like that was a step forward as far as the way you're playing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I played okay. You know, I feel I can do a lot better. I really just wanted to keep my focus when I get leads and try not to let my opponent back in the match at all. So that's what I'd like to work on next round.
Q. You did lose your serve three times. How do you feel you served?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think it was my serve that lost it. I think after I hit the serve in, I made mistakes on my ground strokes. So I'm a little disappointed. I hate losing serve and I didn't think it was especially necessary, not tonight. So I have to try to hang on to it a little bit better.
Q. Were the conditions pretty tough out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm used to the wind now. It's always windy here. I've played a lot of years in the wind here.
Q. Still undefeated at night. What's it like to play out there at night? What do you like about it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I'm a marquee match, match of the day. They chose me to play the night match. That's nice.
And I guess what is it about the night matches? I don't know. I guess I've always - I don't know. It was nice having a nice record at night. I'd prefer not to have any more losses.
Q. Tracy Austin said on the telecast that if you play your best, you will win your tournament. What do you think about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think if I play my best, I have a wonderful shot at winning the tournament. But, you know, I don't always play my best. If I can play near my best, that will be great, too. As long as I'm playing those important points correctly, that's what counts. So I'm looking forward to just improving in every round.
Q. You've won three of the last five Slams. Does that make you hungrier or does it allow you to get a little bit comfortable? How do you feel coming in here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I definitely love winning. I hate going home a loser. I hate having to start over. I'd love to take this title home.
I've just started, I only have three. I'd like to just kind of keep counting them until you got to start counting my toes.
Q. I saw your father up in the nose bleed section taking photographs of you. What do you do with all those photographs? Do you keep an album?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know yet. I don't know.
Q. Even the ones all the way up there? I'm sure you look like a little speck down on the court. He was very intent on taking lots of pictures?
VENUS WILLIAMS: He's probably going to have a big panoramic photo put on the wall. I don't know what he's going to do.
Q. You're in a familiar position, winning three quick matches, at a Grand Slam, playing well. How do you feel?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling pretty good now. I'm definitely almost in the form that I want to be. Was a little bit windy today. Other than that, I'm feeling really good.
Q. You've discussed this at other times during the Slams this year. Would it have been nicer for you to get a tougher match early on, or are you happy to get off the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I had a tough match mentally I guess in the first round, so that's good. But, no, I wouldn't want a tougher match because , obviously, I have a few tough matches ahead of me. I'd rather keep them on the down before they get a little too tough.
Q. Talk about playing Henin. That's a good possibility for you in the next round. You haven't played her before.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I've never played her before, but Venus has played her several times. I'm definitely going to ask Venus. We're going to have a lot of discussion on what I need to do.
You know, I'm playing good. Really doesn't matter who you play in the end, in the end you're going to have to play everyone. You have to compete. That's what I'm here for.
Q. Did you see Henin in the finals at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I was sick, so I went home. And I can't watch Venus on TV. I get too nervous. I can only watch in person.
Q. Periodically the question of rivalries comes up, partly because Martina and Chris set such a high standard for rivalries, perhaps the definitive one in any sport. Do you think the women's game needs them? Is there any chance of one developing? If so, with whom?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think right now there are plenty of rivalries out there. It's not just one. I guess if you just have one rivalry, it will be really major.
I think when I'm playing Venus, that's huge, or when I'm playing Martina or Lindsay, it's really big. Even Jennifer, it's really, really big.
I think the women's game right now has enough personality, enough everything, so we're getting a lot of attention. I don't think we can get more attention than maybe what we have now because there's plenty of rivalries out there.
Q. Some people have made it sound as if the rivalries were between the Williams sisters --
SERENA WILLIAMS: -- and the world (smiling).
Q. Can you comment on that? Is that valid?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think maybe, because -- I don't know. I don't know. I can't really comment on that. We're -- I don't know. You'll have to ask the rest of the girls if they feel like it's them against us. I'm just playing an opponent as they come.
Q. Can you potentially have a rivalry with Venus, given the fact that she's your sister, blood relation? Could you see yourself possibly having a Martina-Chrissy type thing, or is that ruled out by the fact you're blood relations?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I think we definitely have a rivalry, we definitely could have one. But our rivalry stays on the tennis court. Once we shake hands and leave the court, you know, it's pretty much over with.
But I think definitely -- we definitely could and do have a nice one that could really get the sparks going.
Q. The Justine match, that is a step-up match for you? How important is that for your year, to be able to beat a player like that and advance to the second week?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You guys are talking like I'm a major underdog here.
Q. No, I'm not.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Am I an underdog? I like being the underdog.
Q. She's a good player. She's had good results this year.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's great, doing great, had great results. I have, too. It's just the Round of 16. I'm going to take it as a match and move on.
Q. Does it motivate you to play kind of a new player who's flashy, who is good, who you know a lot of people are going to be watching you play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, that's definitely a motivation because I know I can't go out there and make too many errors and make too many mistakes against her because she's playing good tennis. I know what I have to do. I have to make sure I'm ready more than anything. Most of all, it's going to be a fun match for the crowd because they get nice, good competition early on.
Q. Can you go back a few years and tell me about your experiences at the Driftwood Academy and how it made you into the person you are now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, yeah. Before I went to Driftwood, I was home-schooled for a few years. I was really shy. I'm still really shy. I mean, I didn't talk to anyone. I was really introverted. I wasn't loquacious at all.
I went to Driftwood. For the first year, I really didn't talk. After that, the second and third year, I really got into it, I really talked. Most of all, I remember the head teacher, Sandra McMannis (phonetic). She had a wonderful vocabulary and it really inspired me for life, so I try to use -- I'm reading a book now that's called -- I don't know the name of it, but it's a book with vocabulary words from A to Z. I get three a day.
Q. What are your three today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't gotten them today yet. The other day I have pejorative. What else was it? Narcissism. There was another one. Nihilism. There we go.
Q. The reason I'm asking is you probably followed in the New York papers this big controversy with the little league player, his age, the fact he never went to school. Are you aware of this? If you are, I think you're in a unique position to comment given you're at the top of your game and you also have a high school education. Can you meld the two together?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know anything about the story. I really can't make any comments about the story.
Me, as a person, I'm education oriented and family. That's what I believe in most, is having a good relationship with God, having a good relationship with your family and having a good education. I think in sports, you can get in an accident and your career is over with. Car accidents happen every day. That's why I decided to go to school. That's why I go to school in the fall. I'm not going this fall, but that's why I went for a few years.
That's just me. Everyone has a different choice. Everyone has their own heart that's separate from the rest. Everyone is doing their own thing. I can't make a decision for anyone else. I don't want to either.
Q. What are you reading? A dictionary?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's not a dictionary. It's Word Smart. That's the name of the book. Word Smart 3rd Edition. I haven't gotten mine for today.
Q. Are you a nihilistic player, destroy everybody?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Destroy, yeah. Well, it depends. I try to be very nihilistic when I play.
Q. Is Venus also doing this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. See, that's the thing. I'm always around Venus, my older sister. They're just really so smart. It's like I figured since I was last, the brains were left out by then (laughter).
Sep 4th, 2001, 01:41 AM
<font color=hotblue>V. WILLIAMS/L. Raymond
Q. She was able to break your serve a couple times in the second set. Did you feel mechanically like your serve was okay?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just didn't serve as well as I wanted to. What can I say? I'll do better in the next match.
Q. You had a 123 mile per hour ace. Just general feelings about your serve right now. Is it where you want it to be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It just seems like I can pull my serve together or serve it out when I need to at this point. Ever since Wimbledon, I've been serving well over the last three months. So I'm really confident with my serve and what I can do with it.
Q. You have been playing well. Overall, do you feel you're where you want to be at this point in the tournament? Do you have some things you want to work on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It seems I never play as well as I want to in the early rounds but I just seem to get better with the later rounds. So my hope is that that will be the trend at this tournament also.
Q. Have you been looking ahead to the draws down the road?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not really. Sometimes. I like to know who I play the next day, that's for sure.
Q. Why do you think that is, that in the early rounds you feel you're not on top of your game. Then as the rounds and the tournament gets going, you get better and better?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have no idea. Really I guess I'm just settling in. I don't know. I'd like to play very well in every match, but if I had a choice I'd like to play better toward the end.
Q. Your voice sounds a little rougher than the last time you were in here. How are you feeling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm feeling okay, thank you.
Q. Do you remember much about the rivalry between Everet and Navratilova, like being a little girl and watching? Could you comment on that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't remember. Sorry.
Q. You've spoken about how you admire Sampras. There's a fellow coming in after you do your press named Andre Agassi. What are your thoughts on Andre? What do you think of him as a player and a person?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Andre's great. He's like a (inaudible), you know, never say die. I guess I just admire Pete's Wimbledon accomplishments, because that's what I wanted was to win Wimbledon. I know Andre did, but Pete won about six more times. I guess I'd like to have seven, too. One for every day of the week.
Q. I saw in Time Magazine that you're a Witness of Jehovah. Can you confirm that, is that true?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's true.
Q. Do you respect all the rules, don't celebrate birthday, Christmas and spend some money?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I spend money. (Laughter).
But I don't celebrate birthdays, I don't celebrate Christmas. You know, I'm not involved in really any holidays that most people celebrate.
Q. The way the women's tour computes their rankings clearly does not serve players like you and Serena who play less often than some of the others. Do you think, the rankings aside, that you two guys should be ranked the first and second best players in the women's game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point, sure, the first and second best players are Hingis and Capriati. I feel they deserve to be there. I feel I've done well in the Grand Slam events in the past year. That's a given. But at this point, just for myself and my mind, I have to consider myself the best just really not to give an edge to anyone in my mind. So every time I walk out on the court, I have to feel that I'm the best so I can compete well.
Q. Since you are becoming a dominant player, who do you look at as your chief rival down the road?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A lot of times my chief rival is just me, keep the ball in play, keep the ball in. Other than that, a lot of players are playing great. Lindsay, she had a great edge over me for a while, 8-1. But I managed to get it to, I think, 10-9.
Q. Is it important for you, do you have a desire to have the kind of rivalry like a Agassi-Sampras in your career? Would that add something extra to your career to have that intense rivalry with someone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. Because a rivalry means you lose sometimes. I'd like to win every time. (Smiling). Sure, if there's a one-sided rivalry, okay.
Q. There was an interesting comment in Time Magazine where the writer said that you and Serena draw a lot of the criticism because you're like the kids in school who don't show anybody that they're studying and then they let everyone know that they got straight A's. Could you comment on that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that did happen to me. I wouldn't study for a French test and then take it and get 100 percent.
But I don't know. I didn't read the article, so... But I did look at the picture on the cover. That's a nice moment in time for Serena and I to be on the cover of a magazine like that.
Q. Not to get too personal, but were you pleased that you were on top?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, boy.
Q. Of the cover.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never thought about it.
Q. Yesterday Lleyton Hewitt seemed to indicate that an African American line judge was giving favorable calls to James Blake, an African American. I was curious for your thoughts on that incident.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I have no thoughts on the incident. I don't know.
Q. A lot of people were standing in line to see you play for a very long time. How do you feel about that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm happy if it's packed. I like to entertain because not only am I a professional tennis player, but the people who come out to see me, they want to see a good match. They want to be entertained. Sometimes if I play badly, if I don't play very well, I feel like the entertainment value is low. So a lot of times I like to feel it is a good match for myself but also for the fans.
Q. (Inaudible). How important is image to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say image is an important thing, surely. I would like people to know I'm a nice person, but I guess that doesn't always happen.
Q. Do you like that court, playing on that smaller, maybe a little more intimate court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, Serena and I first played on Louis Armstrong. I got here the year that Arthur Ashe Stadium was the first year. I'd never seen Louis Armstrong. So when we got there, we said, "All those matches happened on this court?" But later we found out that it had been altered to a degree, so it's smaller than what it was. I couldn't believe all those matches I watched on TV happened on that little small court. So later on we were corrected.
Q. You started off kind of slow. After the fourth game, started grunting loud, sort of took over. She only got two or three more games after that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I started out a bit slow out there today. My mom told me to go out there and start out quick, and I just didn't do it, so...
But after a while, like in the end, I was really just warming up. I was really just getting in my groove.
Q. After that 5-All game in the first set, she didn't take another game off you. Did you shift to a new gear?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think maybe I did. I just realized that I need -- I got used to her game at that point because I hadn't played her before. Although Venus told me what to do, it was like, you know, when you get to your own rhythm, we have different type of styles of games. When I was in my own rhythm, I'm like, "Oh, okay, here is what I need to do." I was able to pull it in, pull it up, pull it together.
Q. She had you there at the beginning. You were playing cross-court with her a lot. That wasn't working. Going the down, you kind of took over.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah (smiling).
Q. Any more than that? Is that what Venus told you to do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no. Venus just told me some points, some weak points that she might have had, some things that I might not want to do when I'm out there. I think she returned my serve very well today. I think she did that very well.
But I think I had myself in the beginning by making a few too many errors.
Q. Now that you've played against her, what do you think about her game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she's a great player. She's doing well. She's No. 6 in the world now, I think. She played a good match today. She did her best. I just happened to play a bit better. I know whenever I play her, I'm going to have to make sure I'm ready because you don't get to that spot in the finals of Wimbledon - I haven't even been in the finals of Wimbledon - you don't get there easy. You go out there by working hard. She's definitely doing great.
Q. Anyone who has seen you knows you're young, fun-loving, you have a need to focus on your job in tennis. You're also one of the most prominent young African Americans in our culture. I know you've been asked this many times. Do you feel you have an obligation or a desire to play a leadership role for young African Americans?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think a lot of young African Americans, young black people, definitely look up to myself and Venus, even Marian Jones, a lot of other prominent black athletes out there. I don't feel pressure to be like kind of in a tense situation, be uptight and a little bit nervous, because I think I am a role model, but at the same time I'm not out there doing things that would make -- that I don't want kids seeing me do. I'm not out there doing those type of things. So for me it's easy.
For me, I'm just going out there, playing tennis. I know I'm just going to have a good attitude, no matter what happens, I'm going to have fun, I'm going to smile and I'm going to enjoy myself. That's natural for me. So I don't feel pressure.
Hopefully kids can learn from me that, you know, if you just live a good life.... I think I've had a strong spiritual background also, and that helped me out a lot. So for me, I don't feel pressure on being a role model or having black kids look up to me.
Q. Obviously in our sport, issues of race keep on coming up.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Naturally, yeah.
Q. Do you have any feeling of wanting to take a proactive role or to comment on these issues when they do come up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I'm just really trying to be me. I'm out here to play tennis. I want to do the best I can do. I want to reach a goal. I want it now. I think that now is the time to do it. Now is the time better than any other time before.
If issues come up, obviously I'm going to say something about it because I am black and I can't do anything about that. I have a good joke, but I'm not going to say anything right now (laughter).
Q. Just to be more direct, you're saying that you don't want to comment on the Hewitt/Blake decision or incident? Is that what you're saying?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think he asked that question at all. But what happened to them is them. I'm a lady. I'm in the ladies' side of the draw. You have to ask the men's side for once.
Q. Certainly you have an opinion. Lleyton accused the black lines judge of making numerous bad calls because he's black. What do you think about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really don't know what I think about that. I'm not -- I have no comment (laughter). I have no comment. I'm really trying to stay out of the controversy this two weeks. I'm really a smart-aleck here, so I have no comment (laughter).
Q. Going to the 32 seeds, do you think that offered any protection? Until today, there were very few upsets.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure. I think for some people, it does offer protection. Like I said before, in the end, you're going to have to play the player, you're going to have to play and perform. Doesn't matter who I play.
I think maybe it's a good idea. Just bring them on. It doesn't really matter to me.
Q. Can you talk about playing Lindsay?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I like playing Lindsay. It's going to be a good match, a rematch of last year's quarterfinal. I think she won (smiling).
I'm going to be ready this year. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's going to be a good match for the fans. Either way, an American is definitely going to be in the semifinals. So that's definitely a good thing.
Q. Did you watch any of her match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't get a chance to watch any of it. I have lots of films of her and me. You know, we know each other's game very well. We played each other many, many times. We know each other like our back hands.
Q. You are always very self-confident. Can you say now that Justine lost to the 2001 US Open champion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't say that until Saturday. We've got to wait. You know what, I just -- what is it, four down now? I'm just taking it one match at a time. Four down.
Q. Were you at any moment concerned today or from the beginning on were you very confident?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think right now I have a lot of confidence. But I don't play ahead of myself. I'm taking everything one point at a time. If you get too far ahead of yourself, then things can go crazy.
Q. The form you're in now, how do you feel in terms of how you're playing, how you're progressing? Are you in a good spot right now for yourself?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, right now I'm definitely in a good spot. I think I can do a bit better on my serves, my returns. I haven't hit as many aces as I normally do, which is not good for the Chase Ace Program, because I'm usually the leader - but I'm going to pick it up (laughter).
Yeah, so, there's a lot of things I would like to improve on. I'm only 19. I have plenty of time. But I would like to do it before the next hopefully three matches.
Q. You said that you're getting more serious now, that now is different than maybe last year. What is changing for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I realize that this is my job (laughter). This is what I do for a living. After I lost in Manhattan, I was pretty disappointed, because I never lose there, first of all. Second of all, I told my dog Jackie, because I had lost at Wimbledon, you know, I was pretty disappointed. I said, "We can't afford to eat anymore because mommy's not doing well right now." (Laughter).
I looked in her eyes. We were both hungry, so... (Laughter).
Q. What did your dog say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's nothing really she could say until mommy started doing a bit better. Ever since then, I've been doing a little better.
Q. You're the No. 10 seed coming in here. Can't feel too good to see that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Doesn't matter to me. I realize now if you look at my name, look at the tournaments next to my name, if I played the amount that the other girls played, I obviously wouldn't be there. That's another thing about being serious, I'm going to definitely work on.
Q. How are you feeling physically?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Immaculate.
Q. Why did you have your ankle wrapped?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had issues with my ankle in the past. I just wrap it for prevention.
Q. It seemed you were overhitting just a little bit during certain portions of the match today.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Time Magazine had a fun line about you which said when you're on, you're unbeatable, but when you're not, the ballboys better wear cups. Do you think that's a good idea?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been one to spray balls. I've been known to hit in the net, but I've never been known to spray balls.
Q. You're down 2-4 a break in the first set. Don't lose another game the rest of the match against a good player.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I played her last week at the Pilot Pen - a couple weeks ago - and actually I was in the same situation except I got down 5-3 and won that set in the tiebreak.
And, you know, I had some opportunities in the second game to convert to 2-love, but I hadn't been doing that well this tournament. So basically I'm looking forward to tightening up in the quarterfinals.
Q. Doesn't sound like your cold has improved much. What symptoms are bothering you most on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Whoever said I had a cold?
Q. Sounds that way.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, really? I'm doing all right (smiling).
Q. Do you have a cold?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so.
Q. You haven't dropped a set so far in this tournament. I was just wondering if you could talk about that. How surprising is that to you and what do you think that says about your game, where it's at?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, especially if I'm feeling good, especially mentally, I have a clear vision of how I want the game to go and how I want the ball to be. So when I feel like this, I don't have to work very hard. And I think that's what it has been in this past week. That's how it's been, basically.
So whenever I get down a break or if things feel a little tight, I feel as if I can get out of there.
Q. There's six of the top eight that are left in this tournament that are considered power players. Among all of you, I mean you can't beat each other to death from the baseline, what do you think is going to be the next evolution in the women's game that will separate the ones who win the big tournaments and the ones who don't?
VENUS WILLIAMS: At this point, I think it's possibly conditioning, you know, because we're -- and consistency, because out there, sure, it's okay to hit with power but you do have to get it in also.
Being consistent, if you're able to get that extra ball back by having the conditioning, then that might be the next thing. I'm not envisioning, especially -- Serena and I are a little bit younger at 20 and 21, but Lindsay and Jennifer, they're a little older so they might not be as ready to change their game and go to be a serve and volleyer. I don't think that's going to happen, especially they're having so much success at this point.
Q. You mentioned earlier in the week you're starting to mix up your serves a little more. Are you thinking those are the things you're adding that is taking you to the next level then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. I don't really hit the ball as hard as I can every shot anymore - just when I have to.
If I'm playing a more important match, I try to use my power to bully my opponent. Why not?
But nowadays, I'm just coasting.
Q. Quarterfinals will be against Kim Clijsters. What do you know about her game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play Serena about three times. So hopefully I've paid attention. But, you know, I'm ready. If I'm not ready by now, it's gonna be too late.
Q. What did you see when she played Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's always played a good game. She had not her best match at the Ericsson. I think Serena just played very well. She's strong, she runs well and she's a great competitor. As long as you're here to compete, then it's gonna be a tough match.
Q. Can you win the tournament with the percentage of first serves you had today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was dismal. At least these days I'm serving at least 55 percent. On a good day it's like 65. So if I served like 70, it would be a nightmare for my opponent (smiling).
But it hasn't happened yet.
Q. How does your approach and/or your game change the first week of a Grand Slam versus the second week?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, in the first week I really look to -- I do a lot more of my harder practices, but I try to pace myself because I'm playing a Grand Slam. Especially since I played last week too, the week before, your body just starts to break down because of the intensity. You start straining muscles easily, especially towards the end. So I'm just trying to stay in shape.
Q. Some players will say, "I'm playing every match like it's the finals. Go, go, go." You're more of one to pace yourself?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just, you know, am playing. And like I just seem to play better as the tournament goes on. Like at Wimbledon, I was playing quite bad in the beginning rounds. But as soon as I got to the semifinals, I was able to play a lot better. I'm hoping this will be the same thing.
Q. You obviously have to spend a great deal of your time focusing on tennis, but you also are one of the leading young African Americans in our country. I know you've been asked this many times, but could you take a moment and just share with us your thoughts on being a representative for African Americans and your role in terms of speaking on different issues.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think that each -- every one of us in this country, we have to be a representative of ourselves and of our family and most of all of being an American. So wherever I go, you know, I carry the flag.
Q. You're one week into this tournament, so is Serena. You're both still in it. Do you allow that to enter your stream of consciousness at all at a tournament where you're on course to meet each other in the final possibly?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think that's what we're thinking about at this point. Sure, we'd love for both of us to be in the final, but that's only happened once so far -- twice, we played the mixed doubles final at the French Open.
But we still have a tough way to go. Possibly I'll play Jennifer in the semifinals and Serena has Davenport. We know she's a great competitor. So at this point, it's like one point at a time.
Q. Great new hairdo. New to my eyes. Very stylish. Could you comment on that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You mean the color? (Smiling) It offsets my eyes.
No, I just -- my mom bought me a new hair clip so I'm using it.
Q. The other day Andre said he couldn't believe he went through all the aggravation of having long hair when he was younger. Do you ever think about the days with the beads and how you did it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, that was last millennium. Yeah, "Update. Don't be late." That's what I've done. I had to. I've had no other choice, or else I would have been a fashion misfit.
Q. You said before you were kind of coasting. What do you mean by that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just mean that I haven't -- more than anything, I haven't had to run very much. So I don't run as much as I used to back when I was younger. I would, like, lose a first set or win the first set, struggle in the second, come back in the third, do all kinds of running, hitting lots of short balls, opponent run me around. I'm a lot smarter now. I don't have to do all the running I used to.
Q. When you were talking about how you can kind of see things, where the ball should be going, does that mean you know physically you're going to respond once you can see the right strategy from the match, your strokes are going to come together and all that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's like I can see what I'm going to do before I do it and that's when I know I'm playing good tennis. If I don't see it, then I have a tougher day.
Q. Is it you can see what you can do, or is it also you can kind of anticipate what the opponent is going to do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's just really about me. Surely I like to know what my opponent is doing, especially if they have a certain weakness. If I'm playing bad, I'd love to capitalize on it.
But mostly it's about me when I go out on the court.
Q. You let out a pretty loud scream after match point there. What were your emotions at that point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was pretty happy because, obviously, I'm tired of losing close matches. I really, really wanted to win this match. So, I was a bit elated.
Q. Talk about the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of the second and third set? You get up, go back down, up, back down.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I had a couple chances, especially in the third. I had my chances in the second, too. I shouldn't have lost my serve. But in the third, I had a chance to be up 4-Love. You know, I just blew it. You know, that's what I told myself, you know what, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I wish, I couldn't even pay a person to rewind time, so I may as well get over it. That's what I was able to do. I was able to move on after that.
Q. Is that the difference between this and those other matches?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe. I might have been able to forget. You know what, you can't do anything about it. If I were to lose, I couldn't have done anything about it, no matter how hard I tried. Maybe I could have made a few more shots. I knew I would be most disappointed had I went out.
Q. When you lose so many close matches, got to cut a little bit into your self-belief. How much does winning this match build that self-belief back up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I always have a lot of self-belief, yeah. Everyone, you know, points out the close matches that I lost. You know what, you got to let that go, you really do, or else you're just going to be in a hole forever. I'm really not trying to be in a hole forever.
Q. What are you trying to tell yourself when you are trying to close out an opponent, she keeps coming back, keeps coming back? What are the things you're trying to tell yourself, make yourself do?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just tell myself, you know, "Stay focused, you know, make your shots." I missed a lot of shots today. I just was a bit off. I was just, you know -- you know, make your shots in that case. It depends on what I'm doing. If I'm not looking at the ball, hitting the ball, not on my contact point. I try and correct what I'm doing wrong.
Q. Is it hard to stick with your game plan deep in the third set when the match gets so tense?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, no. Actually, it's easier for me. In the past, I've lost matches because I didn't move up to the ball or I didn't come to the net. So when a match gets tough, it's easier for me to come to the net because I know for sure I have a good chance of winning. If I'm going to go out, at least go out doing what I practice, so next time it will be better.
Q. Do you think winning a close match like this will help you in future matches when you get tight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Venus told me something really important the other day. She said, "You know, a champion in tight situations are able to pull through, they don't get nervous." That really helped me a lot. I don't have time to be nervous anymore. If I'm going to go ahead and do something, I was thinking about what she said.
I'm like, "You know what, doesn't matter. I just shouldn't get nervous. I should just go ahead and do the best I can".
Q. How did that come up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think we were watching a match maybe. This person might have been up. I'm not going to say anything else (laughter). They weren't able to close it out, you know, after being up.
Q. How long ago was that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: This was just the other day. It was before this match.
Q. Was it a tall guy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I doubt it. Everybody's tall, though. Yeah, might have been.
Q. Serve and volleyer?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I take the Fifth.
Q. It's been since 2000 Wimbledon since you've been to the semifinal in a Grand Slam. Does that surprise you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it has. It should never have been this long. I definitely should have been more serious in the past, won some of those quarterfinal matches. Comes a day when someone gets tired of losing in the quarterfinals all the time. I would like to move ahead, just go three steps farther than the quarterfinals (laughter).
Q. You hit a few backhands into the net.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was ridiculous.
Q. Looked like you were getting a little tired.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I wasn't tired at all.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. Not at all. I could have -- I don't get tired anymore. I'm too young to get tired.
Q. What happened there? How did you get yourself out of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't have the right techniques. I was way too far behind the baseline, and I basically pushed the shot, hoping it went over. When you hope... Sometimes you have to have a little more than hope.
Q. You're down 30-15 in the last game, then you sneak in for a volley. Was that perhaps the difference right there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I was just talking to my dad. It was definitely, we think the difference in the match. Like I said, in the past I've lost matches because I didn't come to the net. Actually, in Wimbledon I lost because I didn't move up. Doesn't matter how sick I was, I could have won if I had of moved up. If I was going to do it, I should move up, go out moving up or coming to the net.
Q. I think you only lost two or three points at net tonight.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. You came in 20 plus times.
SERENA WILLIAMS: 27 and 24, yeah.
Q. Could you see yourself now coming in ten times a set? Is it something that might never happen?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm really working on it. You know, I'm really trying. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it ten times (laughter).
Q. Do you trust your volley a lot?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. That's the funny thing. I trust my volleys. When I come in, you know, even if they pass me, it has to be on the line or something close to that. You can't -- doesn't matter if it's me or anyone, you can't keep passing. That's why Pat Rafter is able to do so well. You can't pass him that many times. It's too difficult. I need to force my legs to get up there a little more.
Q. She kept coming back from the dead over and over again. Was there ever a point where you were like, "Okay, enough already. I can't believe you're coming back. I thought I had you dead."
SERENA WILLIAMS: She just kept coming back. She didn't win three Grand Slam championships for anything, for sure. Obviously, she has a lot of fight in her. She was No. 1, too. You don't get there from just giving up. That's why you can really appreciate that.
Q. Do you see any difference in her game now? Do you think she's missing anything?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. No, I don't think so. She didn't play the French. She got to the semis of Wimbledon, lost to Venus. She just lost to me here. Those aren't really bad losses. Those really have to be able to be tough.
Q. Is she still as tough as she was?
SERENA WILLIAMS: For sure. Her serve is looking great. I think she's doing a good, good job.
Q. Lindsay said that you could overpower Martina Hingis; the key is keeping down the unforced errors. In your eyes, what's the key to playing Martina? Is it easier now than it was a couple years ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think the key, she said it right, I just have to keep down the errors, I can't make as many errors as I did today. And power, sometimes you can use your power, but sometimes you want to use more brain as opposed to brawn. You don't want to have all brawn and no brain. I'm going to go out there and try and use a little bit of both.
Q. Is it much easier to play her now than it was a couple years ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't played her in a minute. It's been a while since I played her. She's in the semifinals. She had to win, what is it, four or five? I'm tired. It's late. You still want to ask questions, guys. She had to win several matches to get here, so... I've got to stop saying "you know." I'm working on that. I'm not going to say "you know" anymore.
She got here by working hard. I can't take her for granted. You don't want to take anyone for granted.
Q. You played a lot of matches with her since the '99 finals. A lot of people will think of that. How much do you still think of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, that was back in '99. I hate to tell you, this is a new millennium (laughter). That's old. I won't be thinking about that. That was back in the past.
Q. What will you be thinking about if you do beat her, the prospect exists that you could play your sister on Saturday night?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That would be great. I'm sure TV would love it (smiling).
Q. What gives you more satisfaction, to win a really tough point using your brain or tough point using your brawn?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, if it's -- huh. It depends. Sometimes you just want to get it over with, so you hit a big winner. I'm glad I have that option. A lot of people don't have that option. They don't just have one shot they can put away real quick. I couldn't -- I don't know
Q. Do you have any plans for Saturday night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm hoping to be in the final (smiling). 8:00 sharp at the dance, so...
Yeah, I still have the semifinals first.
Q. How happy are you with today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My unforced errors count was just really high. I wasn't stringing together the points the way I'd like to exactly. I did a few good points, and then I missed a few easy shots, too.
But, in general, a win is a win, and I'm happy to have won.
Q. I think Clijsters pushed Serena two years ago to three sets. You guys have never met before. Was it easier than you thought?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've seen her play quite a few times so I knew what to expect. You know, I was disappointed that I lost serve in one game, but I was able to hang on the rest of them. I think I only lost serve once. That was a nice stat for me.
Q. Is there something going on with the conditions that was affecting your serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was a little bit windy with the toss. I feel that I'm accustomed to the wind at this point. Have to get my first serve percentage up. Really I'd like to have a few more aces. Some service winners would be nice too.
Q. You said your service game the other night was dismal. How would you describe today's?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was definitely much better. I think she was returning my serve well. You know, I hit a fast one, she would get it right back, so that was nice for her, I guess. For me, I would be a lot happier if it was a service winner.
You know, I think I served better. I was in the 50s, so that's definitely bringing it up from the other day.
Q. Now that you played Clijsters yourself, what do you think about her game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's a very strong player. I could see exactly why she got to the French Open final. She's very fast. She has a lot of power. I guess she just has to use it to her advantage every time that she plays.
Q. But she was not strong enough to beat you today.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it wasn't today. Today wasn't her day. There will be other days, just like there were for me. Sometimes it wasn't my day. But there will be other opportunities.
Q. What does it say about your game where it was somewhat uneven, but you had a relatively easy straight-sets victory?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think it's experience. Really, I was just doing exactly what my dad told me to do, so that helped out a lot, when I was listening. When I wasn't, it was tougher.
Q. What did he tell you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'll keep that for myself. But everything that he told me always works out.
Q. How much confidence does it give you having successfully defended Wimbledon, coming into the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't trying to defend Wimbledon; I was trying to win Wimbledon. For me, it's a totally different thing. I'm not trying to defend here; I'm trying to win. So it's a great big difference. I don't have any pressure to defend because I'm here to try to take the title home.
Q. Your sister said last night that you gave her some very good advice about champions not getting nervous in tough situations. How did you come up with that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't really remember what I said. I talk a lot sometimes.
I guess I did tell her that champions will hit over the net and not into the net. If you hit in the net, there's just no chance at all. The opportunity is finished. If you get it over, it might drop in.
Q. Have you guys talked at all about possibly meeting in the first prime time final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I guess just one more match to go for each of us. But we're against some pretty good players, No. 1 and -- Capriati has to play yet. If I play Mauresmo, you know, she's not a joke either. I guess I have to wait and see who I play.
Q. What went through your mind when you got broken in the opening game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, she played very good. She was trying to force me, you know, to play. But I was pretty confident, especially in my return game. Really just haven't been broken before in an opening game. That's happened before. Wasn't anything for me to get nervous or shaky about.
Q. If it is Jennifer who you play in the next round, what's the key to the match-up when you face her? Obviously, this would be the only Grand Slam left that neither of you has won this year? She won the first two, you won the last one. What would be at stake against her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose getting to that prime time final. A lot of people have been vying to get there. It hasn't been an easy road.
I guess whoever comes out and plays superior. I believe it will be a good match, a tough match.
Q. What would it mean to you in a couple weeks' time to be on the cover of Time Magazine and then be on prime time at night?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess I have to win the next round first. But if I'm there, I'm going to take the full opportunity to try to make it happen, take another title home.
Q. Tactically, what are the keys against Jennifer for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She's a very strong player. She does everything well. In my opinion, you just have to come out there and play good tennis, be ready to compete on that day.
Q. What about styles of play? How does she compare with yours, for example?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think she plays very well. She hits the ball quite hard. Nowadays, I don't really try to hit every ball hard anymore. When I have to, sure, I like to force it if I have the opportunity.
I think maybe I don't have as much pace on every shot as she does.
Q. Did you feel it was confusing Kim today? She was expecting you to hit every ball hard. When they weren't, she was a little confused.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I believe I had a few free points on the serve because of that. Maybe she was expecting a hard one, and I would hit it just at a medium pace. She was thrown off. I threw up some high ones.
But I feel I'm able to mix it up. Maybe that was to my advantage today.
Q. Can you serve much better than you did out there today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My percentage was high out there today on my serve. I didn't hit really any big ones. I just took some pace off and got it in. I tried to do that in my quarterfinal match also.
But I haven't seen my service percentage. What was it, 82%?
Q. 100% in the second set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean?
Q. 100% in the second set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't hit a second serve in the second set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You're kidding. No, I can't serve any better than that (laughter). Oh, my gosh.
Q. That's kind of high.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I really have been working on that. I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams that it would have been 100%. Oh, my.
Q. You were obviously feeling great out there. What did it feel like on the court as you were going through the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just felt that I needed the win. Not only did I want it, but I also needed it. I'm pretty low ranked. With someone with my name to be No. 10 is pretty absurd. I felt I didn't really like it in that position that I was in.
Q. When did you realize she wouldn't come back, she wouldn't step up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: When the match was over and we were shaking hands. I never doubt anyone anymore because I've played a lot of people and they've come back. A lot of people played me and they've come back.
It's never over until you're walking off the court. That's how I like to think of it.
Q. Still, were you surprised that she didn't find any means to tactically challenge you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She tried. She tried to come to the net. I was just on my toes today. I really wanted the win. I really needed the win. I wanted to win more than anything. When that happens and you have that attitude, then you're going to go out there and you're going to do better.
Q. I know the last two years without a Grand Slam title you've said have been disappointing.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Very.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the emotions you feel as you go through the year and it's not happening?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm feeling good now. I won a Tier I event. Actually, I've won two Tier I's.
Right now, I just want to do good. I'm in the finals. I said from the beginning, I just want to win seven matches. So now I just have one left.
Q. I wasn't sure if there was a point where you sort of really felt angry or felt more motivated.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, actually there was a point where I felt very angry. I think I was playing Barbara Schett in Toronto. I think I lost the first set. I was pretty disappointed in my play at that point. I just had to turn things around.
Q. You talked about how you wanted to win seven matches when you're here. Years and years ago when you guys drew up your master plan, you and Venus, that was pretty far away, saying, "We're going to be meeting in finals of Grand Slams." Now that it's this close, depending what happens here, obviously, how odd is that or great is that? What's the feeling, if it happens?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To play each other in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Venus still has a match to win, so I don't know. It will be great history. It's going to happen sooner or later. It will be nice if it happened in 2001.
I made it. We'll see.
Q. You wanted to get through seven matches. Do you and Venus do that? Do you say, "We're going to do this, we still have this to accomplish? You won a Grand Slam, I won a Grand Slam." Do you treat it that way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not really. Maybe we should. We just go out and practice, we work hard. If you work hard, things are going to come for you. If you're a slacker, you're just going to get slacking results.
We figure if we work hard, things are definitely going to come. Obviously, we do set goals for ourselves. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to reach the goal that I set for myself this year.
But, yeah, we just go out and work hard. Good things come to hard workers, like the ants.
Q. Emotionally, is it easier to meet other people in the finals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because obviously I want Venus to do her best. And we've played each other a few times now, several times now.
For me, it doesn't matter. It will be good for us, our family and everything. I'm sure TV would love it.
Emotionally, it doesn't matter who I play in the end, because in the end we're going to have to compete anyway.
Q. Venus is your sister, you've grown up with her, she's your best pal. How will you get the fighting intensity to go out on the court to try and beat her in the final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I won't have any problem because this is the US Open. If you ever notice, the winner gets $850,000 (laughter). So I won't have any problem going out there and trying to win.
Q. Did you learn anything in particular from that semifinal match at Wimbledon, how to handle what is a huge situation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I learned a lot. I learned a lot in that match. It was a big atmosphere. It was a huge atmosphere.
I did take a lot from that match. I was pretty disappointed, but I took a lot from that match.
Q. What kind of things did you take away?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Mostly pointers for my game. My game kind of broke down a bit.
Q. How much did that have to do with the fact that you were playing your sister, what you might have to change if, again, you're on this huge stage, atmosphere similar to that of the semifinal at Wimbledon, what can you do differently?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, definitely I just think right now I'm focused, I'm not even that excited anymore. I'm just so focused right now. I really, really want this tournament. I'm basically ready to do anything to get it.
So that's why I don't think for me it really matters much. And Venus, she's really focused also. I don't think for her it matters much either.
Q. What do you think you have to prove to the public, given what happened earlier this year at Indian Wells?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't have anything to prove to the public. We know things that happened and what didn't happen. People have their own opinions either way.
I've already made myself clear to the public, you know, on that situation. There's really nothing to prove. People are going to believe what they want to believe anyway. But the bottom line is, we're both competitors, we both want to compete, we both want to be No. 1, and we both want to do the best that we can. We're both of age where no one makes decisions for us.
Q. They say you shouldn't offer a drink to an alcoholic. You just mentioned the $850,000 first prize money. If you win this tournament, you've talked about your problems with being a shopaholic, do you think that could be a bit of a problem? How are you going to deal with that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no. Probably the whole check will go, unfortunately, to Uncle Sam.
Q. The whole check?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. My tax return right now is ridiculous.
Q. If Venus wins tonight, will your preparation be any different tonight than it would be normally if you're not playing against each other tomorrow?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, yeah, because I'm playing Venus, and she has a different style of game than Jennifer. If I'm playing Jennifer, I'm going to have a different plan, different tactic. If I play Venus, I'm going to have a different plan, different tactic. Kind of all depends.
Q. What about coming to the center together, talking tonight? Will that change?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no. Tennis is just a game, and we're entertainers. We entertain the public. People come to see us play and perform. They pay to see us perform and entertain.
After that, we go home, and Venus will always be my sister, we're always going to be a family. No matter what, she's always going to be there. We just take tennis as it comes. We play a match. After that, we have to be able to separate, you know, tennis from family life.
Q. You talked about developing the mindset of a champion. What for you is that? What goes through your mind where you say, "I'm getting into that mindset"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: What do you mean?
Q. You talked about the other day one of the things that Venus talked told us is to have the mindset of a champion, has to be a mental part of your outlook on the game. What is it that goes through your mind that's part of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think in order to think the way a champion thinks, you have to take things as they come. Things don't always go your way. I think in the past I wanted things to go my way too often, but I was able to change that and realize if I was in this situation, what would I do? Things of that nature.
I've been able to improve on that. Also I've been able to, this week, close out my matches a bit better.
I really don't, you know -- yeah, basically.
Q. You were thanking the crowd afterwards. Have they been especially supportive?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've had a good two weeks here. I've had a lot of support from the crowd. That's always nice to hear, especially, you know, after Indian Wells (laughter). So I always have plenty of support from the crowd. It's nice. It was really nice. So I like it here. I like the New York crowd, for sure.
Q. For those of us who weren't there, how bad did they get at Indian Wells?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, it was a pretty low blow. It was definitely a blow below the belt. It was pretty bad. Even after I won, when I went out to accept the trophy, they booed. But that was okay at that point. I really just did some prayers, and God was able to help me get through it.
Q. Has that followed you all summer or have people warmed up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I think that was just a one-time incident. Who was it, Martin Luther King said, "A lie can't live forever." Everybody forgot about that.
Q. Did you and Venus talk before she went out to face Jennifer? What was the conversation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I talked to her a bit. I just told her to "Take your opportunities, stay calm." Basically some technical things she might want to try.
Q. What did she tell you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus is very quiet, especially before a match. She just takes it all in. I hope she took enough of it in.
Q. Speaking of you being an entertainer, you and your sister seem to have support of more famous entertainers than anybody else: Jamie Fox, Jay-Z?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Really? Really (laughter)?
Q. How do you feel?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel real good. Yeah, just happy I got the win and I guess maybe the significance is just settling in still.
Q. At what point in the first set do you feel that your forehand ground stroke really locked in, you really felt you could hit anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was just windy. I was having a tougher time with the wind today and, you know, if anything, I feel like my forehand was better than my backhand these two weeks. If anything, I was struggling more on my backhand really. So once I got in touch with the wind, it was okay.
Q. What do you think? Around the sixth game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I knew I was only down one break. I just didn't feel like it was my day to leave the tournament. A lot of times you can feel your demise. Today I just didn't feel it.
Q. This is an historic afternoon. You and your best friend, sister, two African Americans, into the final of the US Open. Could you comment on the significance of this in terms of tennis history.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's sweet. It's sweet. Just real nice. Had a lot of blessings from God. And we're happy that we're healthy and we're happy to be here.
Q. Is it possible for you to want to win against your sister as much as you do against anyone else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely. I'm still trying to take the title home. I know that she won't be giving up anything tomorrow, too. It's been like two years for her since she's won. It's been a year for me since I won here, too. So...
Q. When you took the court knowing that Serena was already at the final, is it more motivation or is it more pressure to go on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't feel any pressure because, more than anything, I wanted to win my match. So I didn't take into account that she had won. I was really happy she had won, for sure. The way she closed it out was impressive. So I think maybe I had a little motivation to close mine out, too.
But today I wasn't so much into the score. I was more or less like into keeping those points for me. Finally, it was finished.
Q. So what happens tonight? Do you see your sister? Is it like all war until tomorrow, it's all over?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, we'll just keep on keeping on. In the end, we're taking everything home.
Q. I'm saying tonight, will you go to dinner with her? Or is it like, "I don't want to see her until this is all over"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, definitely not. We'll probably go out and eat. That's necessary (laughing).
Q. You played your sister a few times now. On the morning of a match when you're going to play her, do you actually still hit together? Maybe a half hour or so?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess it depends on if I choose a different practice time, then I won't hit with her. If we choose the same time, then we'll hit together. Sometimes we choose different times.
Q. Why do you feel the nation is so avid to see you and Venus play tennis? I ask that, when you have played, the matches haven't been considered all that enthralling?
VENUS WILLIAMS: A lot of matches we played haven't been considered championship, heroic matches. I think that tomorrow will be different, especially since the fact that I'm going to be returning, you know, a serve very similar to mine and I haven't had to do that in quite a long time. So that's going to be an experience, too.
Q. Why do you think in the past your matches with your sister haven't necessarily been of the same quality that your individual matches are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just that in general I just rise to the occasion with each match. I wouldn't say today the match I played was an epic thriller. You can't expect that from every match. The match Andre and Pete played, that was fantastic. That doesn't happen every year, every tournament.
Q. Are you and Serena capable of playing a match like that, do you think?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I hope so. We come out there, compete, and just play well.
Q. Do you think you're mentally stronger on the court than Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We're just two different players, two different persons, react to situations differently. I think -- I hope at least tomorrow that I'll be.
Q. Given what happened the last time you were supposed to play each other, do you feel like you have to prove anything to anybody tomorrow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have nothing to prove in my life. All I have to do is live and pay my taxes. That's all (laughter).
Q. Your dad said both you and Serena are injured. Is that the case?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone has injuries, you know, every player. It's hard. Especially toward this point of the year, because all the hardcourts, all the matches, your body gets worn down naturally. You strain muscles easier. So actually I'm in better health physically this year than what I was last year.
Q. Are you both in good enough health to play a match tomorrow that's not influenced by injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm okay. I haven't asked Serena.
Q. Has some of the criticism been unfair about your previous matches, where people would hint that there's fixing going on? Was that unfair?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that anyone would have wrote that or said that was very unprofessional. I take pride in my sport and my performance. You know, I'm just appalled that anyone would hint something like that. But I don't think that has ever been the case and that it ever will be.
Q. Can you talk about one of your epic practice sessions, one of the more memorable ones with Serena, kind of what goes on there when you're going all out?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, one time we had to hit from eight to three in the afternoon. But that was a long time ago, when we were kids. We didn't want to be there.
But it happened. Finally, we left.
Q. Why did you have to hit from eight to three?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When you're little, those kind of things happen. You just keep hitting and hitting. You're ready to go, but you just keep hitting. When you're young, you put those hours in. When you get older, the time's less and less.
Q. What is the most competitive match you guys have played? Not necessarily here on the tour, but LA, Florida?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Maybe the mixed doubles we played in '98 at the French Open. That was pretty competitive. No one seems to remember that (smiling).
Q. Your dad said it was the happiest day of his life. What does that mean to you that your father would say that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think he's put a lot of work into this, a lot of hours, a lot of sacrifices on his part. I guess he's just proud of both of us.
Q. I'm guessing you may have dreamed what it would be like for you and Serena to play here at the US Open in the finals. When was the first time you imagined this happening?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, it was my dad's dream, my mom's dream. They told us we'd be here playing each other in the finals. That's why we believed it. If they had told us we would never make it playing tennis, I don't think we'd be here today. So it all started with my parents giving us positive reinforcement.
Q. Opponents talk about how physically demanding it is playing against yourself and your sister, how it's different playing against you guys. What do you expect tomorrow? What kind of a match do you expect when you put those two powerful players against one another?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, a lot of times when you put two powerful players against one another, it's more difficult because the unforced error count can become high because of both players. If you put a powerful player and a less powerful one, they both have to adjust to each other's games. I guess we'll have to keep the unforced errors down.
Q. I know you're used to seeing your miles per hour clock being higher than your opponent's. What will it be like tomorrow when it's a much closer miles per hour on the serve? How will you react to that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think Serena and I, we both mix it up. Should we go for our speed, because it's easy to get points off a short ball we can move in on. Then also we do hit some kick serves and some sliders. So it's variety that's the spice of life. That's what keeps our opponents on their toes.
Q. Do you have any sense of how difficult this is for your mom and your dad, too, because they're helpless to control the match; they want both of you to succeed certainly?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think in their minds we've succeeded already - not really with just tennis, but just with being people and good citizens. That's all they wanted for us, is for us to be happy in our lives and to do what we want.
At this point, we've done what we wanted, we've been successful and we're healthy. That's all they wanted from us.
Q. Were you at all bothered by the booing at the end of the first set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Over the line calls.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm here to compete. I couldn't be too bothered. I won the first set. Things had went my way.
I was feeling pretty good at that point.
Q. If you could step back and get one of Serena's either strokes or one of her qualities as a tennis player, what would that be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did take one of her qualities. You know, just her will to fight. That's how I became a fighter, too.
Sep 10th, 2001, 03:09 AM
<font size=6 color="#33FFCC">ALL WILLIAMS FINAL! <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"></font>
Q. Are you a mean big sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I think I'm one of the best out there. So... I don't know.
Q. Do you consider tonight a win for the Williams family? What's the significance?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, for sure, because this is our first Grand Slam final together, and really that's the way we'd like it to be. Because then both of us win in a way. And, also, I just hate to see Serena lose anyway - even against me. So I think that's the harder part. For anything, it would be easier for her to beat me, then I'd maybe be, I don't know, happier.
It's kind of strange. But when you're the big sister looking to take care of the younger one...
Q. If that's true, do you think it would have been easier for you tonight if it were Jennifer or Lindsay? Would you be more joyful now if you had beaten one of them in the final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I was the younger sister, maybe I'd feel more joyful. When you're younger, (inaudible) you're used to finding a way to get in and out of things. I don't exactly feel like I've won.
Q. That's what I mean. That's why I'm asking. If you were playing a different opponent, would you be a little bit more joyful?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I was playing a different opponent, I'd probably be a lot more joyful. But I'm happy I won the US Open again. There's nothing like winning a Grand Slam. Serena and I, we both know that when we come out there, it's going to be two competitors competing against each other. That's just the way it is. When you walk out on the court, if you're not a competitor, you just got to go home. And we both understand that.
Q. How did you and your sister spend the day today before you got here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We practiced, had lunch, took a nap, headed over.
Q. Your mother said that you took a nap. Serena went out and did some shopping with mom.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I think Serena -- I don't know. I don't think she shopped. I hope not, because then she probably got some things I didn't get (laughter).
Q. You got some sleep, maybe that helped?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I love sleeping (laughter). Nothing like getting those zzz's on. Always try to take a nap before a match if I get the chance. A lot of times it's hard to get up for me. Today it took me about an hour and a half to get up.
Q. There's much talk about the dream. Often, you have told us that this was your parents' dream. At what point did it become your dream? Secondly, the dream of both of you playing together in a Grand Slam tournament, when did that happen?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's tough to say. When I was younger, I played tennis because my parents wanted me to. I was happy doing it. I never thought twice about it. And I suppose later on, as I got older and was able to understand and I kind of understood what was going on around me, that's when I decided or I understood that, "Hey, I wanted to be a player, too."
From the beginning, it was just a lot of positive reinforcement from my parents. Again, I understood I'd be a good player, I guess.
Q. There are a lot of sisters, brothers. What has happened today is really so unusual in tennis. So many things could have gone one way or the other. Because of the development, how do you see this, both of you together, in terms of the historical perspective of this event?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, boy. Well, I don't know how we ^ both had to be two good sisters together. We're both good athletes, that helps a lot. Then we worked hard and we believe in ourselves. That helps a lot more. Then we kind of stepped up and made it happen. That's what counts.
I guess, you know, years from now we'll look back and laugh. We still laugh. But now we look back at the times that we've had before and we laugh and say, "Boy, if I had known, I would have done better here and there." I suppose we can keep the memory for ourselves.
Q. So many figures from the world of sports, from entertainment, celebrities of all kinds came to this match. What does that mean to you, that all these figures came to see a little tennis match between two women?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, actually, I was looking at the screen, too. I don't deny myself a look on the screen when I'm on the changeover. So I look and see who's here, too.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit, some of the celebrities you saw, what went through your head.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I saw all of them - all of them that they showed on the screen. I was thinking mostly about the match for sure. But I like watching the screen.
Q. In the past, your matches with Serena have been filled with a lot of unforced errors - one way or the other. Were you surprised the way she came out? Was she a little rattled in the beginning? How do you describe that first-set dominance you had?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think we were even until I got the first break, and it could be that I'm really used to playing these Grand Slam finals now. That could be it. This is my fifth one so far, my fifth Grand Slam final. So I think maybe that played a factor.
Q. You didn't drop a set this whole event. Is this the easiest Grand Slam you've won? I mean, are you just playing beyond, you know, any skill level you played before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: In terms of the scores, I suppose so. It has to be my easiest Grand Slam. But it's been a hard week, or two weeks. I'm a little tired.
Q. Are you at the top of your game? Can you move up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't feel I played my best. I don't feel I did. But I guess it's not always the best that counts. It's how you play the important points. And I'd like to, of course, improve my game.
Q. Do you still have the goal of being No. 1 in the world?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure, I do. It just hasn't happened (smiling). When I'm deserving of it, I suppose I'll be there. But it hasn't worked out just yet.
Q. You said you've been in five Grand Slam finals now, and you think that that's helped your comfort level, confidence in the match. There are certain points you might have been down Love-30. Can you explain how being in the finals helped you out.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's really just that maybe I understand the plays more, more than Serena does, which is putting the ball where I want it to be or trying to draw an error. So that could be it, too.
But I don't know. Just, you know... I don't know.
Q. Do you think that women are overtaking sport? If so, what role do you think you and your sister have in that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: The sport of tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think definitely right now we're the top story in tennis. It's real exciting because every time I go out there, especially if I'm playing someone like Lindsay, Martina, Serena, Jennifer, Monica, I'm going to be in for a battle. And I think that's exciting. And what we've all brought to the game, we've worked hard, and I feel that we deserve it - and the sport does, too.
Q. Martina's pretty much acknowledged that she's not the best player in the world this year. Jennifer has two majors. You have two majors. If you had to realistically assess it, would you say you were the best player this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I've had the most amount of titles. But for me, I've almost done my personal best. I would have loved to have won some more Grand Slams, but that wasn't the case. Someone else was more deserving of the first two (laughing). So it wasn't me.
I've done my best. And the year isn't over yet. I'm still looking forward to hopefully improving my ranking. Who knows?
Q. Just sort of eradicating tonight's match and everything, can you understand how people in the media particularly look at matches between yourself and Serena with a very sort of critical eye, almost waiting to see if there's any sign that one maybe is sort of slumping at such a time, sort of a suspicion, almost? Obviously something that you abhor. But can you understand why they're saying, These two sisters, how hard is it for them to play each other? Do you understand that, or do you just find it complete nonsense?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I rarely try to understand. When you spend too much time trying to understand things, then that takes too much time, in my opinion, energy. I develop my own theories and beliefs, and that's how I go.
Q. A few years ago you said you'd like to travel to Africa. I was wondering if you ever envisioned yourself playing a tournament there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I suppose we had one tournament in Egypt, but it's not there anymore. But I sure would like to go. It's hard, because when we do have time off, we have to also spend that time practicing and training so we can play as well as we do. Isn't a lot of free time in our schedules. We have full-time jobs, actually. So when I have the opportunity and the time, I'd love to.
Q. There were times when she wasn't playing too well. As a sister, did you feel yourself feeling a little bit sorry for her? If you did, how did you deal with that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I always like to see Serena play well and do her personal best. I was happy to get free points, that's for sure. But then on the other hand, I was, you know, being like -- kind of like if I was sitting in the stands and Serena was playing someone else and I was saying, "Come on, Serena, just do this or do that." When I'd find myself doing that, I'd lose a couple points.
So I just want the best for her in the end.
Q. How did you overcome feeling sorry for her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: When I lost a couple points, I wasn't sorry anymore (laughter).
Q. There were people, Venus, who were thinking ahead to when you're 1 and 2 in the world, you and Serena, and that you could be playing more Grand Slam finals. Do you think that gradually will cut through the difficulties you feel maybe emotionally now about playing sister against sister, and that it will become, "Okay, you've won Grand Slams, I've won Grand Slams, let's go for it"? Mentally, emotionally, there won't be any problem whatsoever playing your sister. Do you think that time will come?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think pretty much today, I don't think we had a problem playing each other. Sure, I wanted to win more than anything - and Serena did, too. We understood that.
But I think we played an okay match today. I think that when I had some opportunities like to break serve, I was able to capitalize on those more than what she was able to. So that was the key, the difference in the match.
But we both went out there competing, trying to win this tournament. Hopefully, there will be better matches. I mean, after that Andre and Pete match, no one can live up to that again in this tournament - maybe not ever.
Sep 10th, 2001, 03:13 AM
Q. You weren't able to bring your level up, except for a few games there in the second set, after 4-All?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. It was a bit tough out there. I was fighting the wind, fighting myself because I was making too many errors, and I was fighting Venus. Actually, too many fights going on. I should have reduced it a bit.
Q. You looked really strong coming out of the box, running her side to side, coming to the net. Was there a particular strategy you had?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, my whole strategy nowadays is to come to the net anyway. Whether I want to or not, I try to come on in.
Yeah, it was. I've been working on that in general.
Q. Talk about the second set a little more. You got yourself back in there.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was able to get myself back in it a bit. It was like I was struggling so much with making errors. I don't know, I couldn't seem to stop the errors from coming. I was too far behind the baseline, I think.
I don't know, it was just -- it was weird. It was a bit windy. I don't know.
Q. Did you get a little embarrassed when Venus was talking in front of the crowd afterwards, when she was talking about how you want to protect your little sister? You said, "Stop it."
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because I'm really emotional, so... I mean, it was just so deep, and she was so sincere, and that really touches one. I'm a really emotional person, so it was really making me pretty emotional there.
Q. You didn't feel like you wanted to get really emotional in front of 23,000 people?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not today (laughter). Maybe next time.
Q. Has it gotten easier playing her in psychological terms? I know her game is no easier, but psychologically has it become easier to play against her or is it the same?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely become a lot easier for me. I think after the first time, it was easier. Overall, it's definitely easy. I really have no problem any more.
Q. Did you practice together this morning? Did you have breakfast together?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, we practiced together. We didn't have breakfast. We usually -- we practice at 10. We didn't want to wake up. We left around 9, so it was too early to get up to get breakfast. But, yeah.
Q. Did you spend the whole day together or did you separate?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, pretty much. I took a nap. I mean, we didn't nap in the same bed, if that's what you're getting at (smiling).
Q. Can you enjoy any of this, any of what happened today, even though it was a disappointing loss?
SERENA WILLIAMS: In the past, I would have been disappointed, but I've grown as a competitor more than anything. In that aspect, I've grown a lot. I've realized that you take them as they come. I didn't take my chances. I didn't get the moment. So it's all for Venus right now.
There's always the next time, especially in sports. There's always a next year. It's not like it's, you know, football where there's just Super Bowl one time type thing. There's next year, and next week actually I'm playing a match.
Q. This match almost certainly drew more stars and celebrities than any other tennis match in history. What does that mean to you, that you and your sister attracted so many celebrities, and were you aware when your friends' box cracked up when Puff Daddy came in?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I don't know. I guess they always like to watch entertainment. They always like sports. It just so happened that this is one of the times they wanted to come out. Hey, I wouldn't have missed it either if I knew something so historical was going to happen. I definitely would have tried to make it myself.
So I guess a lot of people want to watch us. For me personally, it's really exciting because some of these guys are really superstars. I didn't really think that they would want to watch little me play tennis. But I guess we're really exciting, and I'm flattered.
Q. With four of the last six majors titles, is your sister now clearly a cut above the rest of the women's field, in your opinion?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, winning four out of the last six, I guess you could say she is. I don't know. I think she's beaten everyone.
Q. Have you spoken to your father since the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I've only been off the court for about 40 minutes now. I haven't really had an opportunity.
Q. What did he say to you this morning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: He just told us to go out there and compete and have fun. One of us is going to win, and obviously one of us were going to lose. Just to have fun with it. This is history. Just enjoy it.
Q. What did Venus say to you at the net?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She said she didn't feel like she really won because she always wanted to, you know, kind of protect me. I told her, "Well, you won. Take it. You know, it's your win. It's your victory. If I would have won, I won. You won, you need it. It's yours. Don't feel that way because, honestly, there's not enough time in one's life. Time happens so fast." I just told her, you know, "It's yours. You won it."
Q. You both are at the top of the power game. It was just amazing how much power both of you had out there. I wonder how you rank Venus' groundstrokes to Jennifer Capriati because it looked like she was so powerful that you were leaning back sometimes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Venus actually has taken a lot of power off her ball, and she's actually making less mistakes, using more tactics in her game.
So power-wise, I think she's definitely taken a lot off. She tried something different this whole tournament, and I think it worked.
Definitely when she wants to, she can hit it hard. But as for me backing up, that's just I didn't move forward.
Q. When you go into a match, do you have a strategy that you form for whatever opponent it is? If so, do you form that strategy with Venus or your father or someone? Were you able to do that today, for this match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I always have a strategy. But usually when I go out there, I go out there to play my game. It doesn't matter who you play, you're going to have to play your game anyway. I don't get involved in too much scouting out what this girl does, what this one does. It can become too much. I know a lot of people get involved in that.
For me, I just go out there. I know the weaknesses usually, and then I'll play like that. I usually develop a strategy on some things that I want to try to work on throughout the match. But it's not a whole technical thing, because it can get hectic sometimes.
Q. Can you talk about your unforced errors. You had 39 in two sets.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. It's a consistent problem for you sometimes.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think a lot of those errors came because for me it was a bit difficult for me to play in the wind. It's always a bit difficult. Especially on the return, I was really disappointed at one point because I just couldn't get them. There was like a 73 miles an hour one in particular, and I just couldn't get it. When I went to hit it, it was pretty disappointing, the wind would come up.
You know, I've really cut back on my errors, in general. It was a weird atmosphere out there today.
Q. How do you feel with the support from the crowd? Did you feel it was the same for both of you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was the same for both of us. I think a lot of people wanted Venus to win. I think maybe the older sisters and older brothers wanted Venus to win. The younger sisters and younger brothers wanted me to win. I think it was even.
Q. You talked about Venus taking the pace off the ball, play smart. Do you think she played a little bit smarter of a match tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe, yeah, sure, she did. Obviously she should have because if it's windy, you don't want to start pounding balls away.
Q. You talked about the wind. Both of you have practiced in the same places. Venus always says, "I'm used to the wind, I play well with the wind."
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because in the Ericsson and The Open, it's weird, she always plays in the wind. I always play when it's not windy. It's kind of weird how it works out.