Aug 24th, 2003, 09:20 PM
Why did she decide to play if she wasn't completely fit and healed?
Venus Williams - Day 12
Saturday, July 5, 2003
S. WILLIAMS/V. Williams
4-6, 6-4, 6-2
MODERATOR: Can we have your questions, please, for Venus Williams.
Q. What was behind your decision to actually go ahead and play today? Obviously, you were in pain and had this injury to deal with.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess, first, you know, there's always the "what if" in the back of your head. And, second, it's just hard these days. Serena and I have taken a lot of slack, so I felt to take one for the team.
Q. What do you mean by that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it hasn't been easy. Serena and I, we've been blamed for a lot of things that never even happened. I felt today to play.
Q. Meaning people have accused you of leaving matches too soon? Is it a criticism for defaulting?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I think everyone's quite familiar with the history. So today, today was a good effort. And I wanted to play. I mean, I had to at least show up and go out on the court. So that was definitely a decision on my own. .
Q. How tough was it, Venus? How tough was that to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess, you know, it's tough enough to go into the Wimbledon final because you know you have to play your best tennis to win. It's a little tougher also, not really sure how much you can do, how far -- how much I could do, I wasn't sure how far I could go.
You know, that just sums it up.
Q. If it wasn't the Wimbledon final, would you have defaulted?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If it wasn't the Wimbledon final, chances of me playing probably would have went down. .
Q. Were you advised at all by Kerry or any of your trainers or whatever not to play and you decided to override that? Did they kind of say, "It's really up to you, you can't injure yourself more"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was definitely up to me. No one took away that decision at all. No one made any suggestions or put any pressure, because then it gets to be even more confusing.
Q. Serena said you played the best, in her opinion, in this tournament. Is that a new level of tennis we're going to see ahead of this tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I really felt that I was playing pretty good, and definitely playing those big points well. I was on a roll.
Then, you know, things took a turn. But it's okay. It really is.
Q. You've had this injury now for several weeks. The only way really to get rid of it is to rest. What are your plans after this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really haven't thought that far in advance. I don't know what I'm gonna do, except, of course, take care of myself and rehab.
But I'd like to be rid of this pretty soon. I don't really want to be at the next tournament or at the next US Open and having to deal with more of this.
Q. Could you describe the pain that you were feeling and how it affected your play.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, basically it was just a domino effect. Once I started not using certain parts of my body, then other parts started to go down. So I started injuring more areas.
And I couldn't run too fast, I couldn't stretch out too much. I was hitting serves in the net because it's harder to reach up. So just affects the whole game..
But, you know, Serena played real well.
Q. Was it like a pain or discomfort or just on certain moments?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like a pain, yeah.
Q. All the time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, like a pain (laughing).
Q. Stabbing pain or just on certain movements?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, sharp pain.
Q. You looked clearly in discomfort between the points, but then you guys had some 14 -, 15-stroke rallies where you were just running back, side to side to side to side. How do you explain how you were able to do that, and what did you learn about yourself today in getting through this?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, I could move a lot, but I think especially at my height, I have to be very quick on my toes and I have to be ready to change directions. And in order for me to get my body weight going in different directions, I have to be very low.
So all that, all those little things were kind of taken away from me. So normally on those long points where I can just get into them every point, if I have to, sometimes I wasn't doing that.
And then there were the points where I were, and I was just so far behind the baseline (laughing).
Q. Serena was saying yesterday it's hard when someone you care about is hurting. How tough do you think it was for her out there today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I wasn't really thinking about that. I had a lot to concentrate on on my own side.
You know, I never talked about what was going on.
Q. You said you took one for the team, in that you and Serena have been blamed for a lot of things. We know about the booing and hissing in Paris. What other things have you been blamed for?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, it just goes from one thing to another, so we just roll with it. That's the way it is when -- from what I've been told, you know, and what I've experienced, that's the way it is at the top. It's one thing after another. And it's not just me, it's -- I mean, if you look at the movie stars and you look at the cover of People, every time you look around, they're making something else up. So this is the way it is.
And sometimes it's almost funny. A lot of times it is funny, actually.
Q. BBC was saying in a way you were being, oh, almost punished for your success. People were looking for excuses to get on your case, so to speak. Do you think that's accurate?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As far as...?
Q. Just your place at the very top of the game, the way you've dominated for this period of time, that people are looking for a way to sort of get at you or to bring you a peg down lower.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Could be. Could be.
Q. How important was it that Serena was telling you during the break in the Clijsters match, "Get out there, fight, you can do this"? Am I right about what she was saying? That's the impression I have.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's always the first thing, is it was not worth it, but in some ways it is worth it. I'm just here to compete and do my best, and that's really what I do at the end of the day.
Q. Did you consider calling for the trainer earlier than the moment that you did call for the trainer? Perhaps in the second set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. No, I thought that maybe -- maybe she could give me a magic pill, but it wasn't there (smiling).
Q. Was there ever a point where you thought, "I'm not gonna be able to complete this match"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I wanted to complete the match once I stepped out on court, yeah.
Q. Do you leave here more discouraged about your health or encouraged about your rising game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing well. I think it's discouraging that I'm gonna have to take weeks off and kind of start from scratch again, you know, with fitness.
When you take weeks off, you get off, especially on my serve. I have to work very hard.
But, you know, I've been blessed in my whole life and, you know, I feel encouraged that I'm able to play well and lift my game.
Q. Are you up for that right now, the rehab and starting all over again?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. I have to be.
Q. The injury keeps getting discussed, but you got back to 5-4 there in the second set. You played well in the first set. Down 5-1, you fought pretty hard to get back to 5-4. Were you thinking then you had a real chance to close it in two sets?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was just trying to put more pace on my balls, maybe to produce more errors or what have you. Put more spin on it, do something quick.
And I made some mistakes at 4-5, like three or four down-the-lines, forehands down the line, I guess didn't hit them right.
Q. It looked like even despite the injury at that point in the match you had some belief you could possibly pull it out?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, but I wasn't gonna kill myself. I wasn't get -- you know, I'm already in a hole. I'm not gonna dig the hole a lot deeper.
Q. Why did you call the trainer at that point? Did you hurt yourself in the game a little bit more?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, at the beginning of the second set I was starting to go downhill.
Q. The stomach and the leg or any number of things? Was it everything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, from the very beginning, the leg. The stomach, I was feeling okay with my stomach until the second set. Then I was just, you know...
I was playing all right, though.
Q. Was it a hamstring?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it was more or less a groin.
Q. When you went off court with the trainer, did you get rewrapped with the tape?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Tighter. She did it tighter.
Q. Is it like wrapped all the way around, like a corset?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a few wraps going on (laughter). Tapings.
Q. It was impressive the way you pulled off the semifinals despite the injury. What do you account for this new level of motivation and standard?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What was accounted?
Q. Yeah, what was the motivation and what inspired you to raise your game and improve on everything? What is your target?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't understand.
Q. You want to be the best player, obviously. But were there any other things that motivated you to work this hard on your game and then to get out of the semifinals despite your injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, I want to be the best player that I can be. And I've been at the top of the tennis rankings, and still feel that I'm at the top, doing well.
A lot of times it's a lot easier on the day that you injure yourself to keep playing, considering it's tougher after, after the day or after the fact, to recover.
I mean, I knew what I was in for. Here I am.
Q. Serena was saying you showed that you were even tougher than she thought. Did you prove anything to yourself or did you know you could handle the situation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Did I prove anything to myself?
Q. Yeah, about yourself. Did you learn anything about yourself? She said she learned a lot about you.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I better think about it then. I'll ask her what she learned about me that I didn't learn.
Q. Do you think now that Serena will do the shopping now that you can take a rest? Do you think you can persuade her to go out and do the shopping for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Shopping? Oh, the grocery shopping. No (laughter).
Q. The injury occurred first in Warsaw. Did it ever disappear?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, the injury occurred first in Warsaw, and it was hard to pinpoint because I think so many muscles had spasmed that no one was really sure where it was or which muscle it was or why.
And I calmed down a lot. I calmed down a lot. Toward the French Open, I was okay. It was on and off. I had good days and bad days, basically.
Q. But you never considered taking a break?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I did, I took --
Q. I mean a long break, a longer one?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I took about two and a half weeks off before the French Open, hence my bad game there. Maybe I should have played.
Q. Where do you think you stand, it's only two weeks away from the Fed Cup, you've taken two weeks off as you said before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Are there two weeks? One week.
Q. One week. Do you think you can be ready for that? Will you probably need to rest?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I guess theoretically there are two weeks until the tie.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Until the weekend.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. I haven't given it much thought until she asked me about it the other day. I love the Fed Cup. I'd love to be there. But it's definitely gonna be a stretch.
Q. When do you think you have to let Billie know?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's here. I saw her today. So I'll probably talk to her, if I can find her.
Q. Is this the strangest of the finals that you guys have played because of the injury? Does it feel different? Was it really just like the other few that you guys have played together, Grand Slams?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Each final is different. All the circumstances are always different. Sometimes you come in the better player, sometimes you know you're not playing as good as the next one. Obviously, this wasn't much different because of the circumstances, but, still, it was a good final.
Q. You said the other day that you were taught at an early age not to play with pain. Could you recall when, how you were told that? Was it your father, other people telling you not to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, my mom and dad. They never let us play in pain.
Q. What's the reasoning behind it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Because, first, you shouldn't learn to do those kinds of things, you just end up, I think, in a deeper hole than before. Second, is because they didn't want us to think that the game was so important that you have to be in pain to play.
Q. What is it like going out to play a match you know you're almost certainly not going to be able to win?
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Laughing) whoa...
Q. Because of the injury.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I look in the sky and I hope to see an angel (laughter).
I don't know, I just knew I had to give it a shot. I couldn't look back 10 years from now and say, "What if?" Basically, that was a lot of my motivation behind it. I knew I had to at least walk out on the court.
Q. You said that you felt like you had to take one for the team and go out there because of all the history. If you'd been playing someone else other than your sister, do you think maybe you would have said, "I can't play"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: For sure, I think I would have felt a lot less pressure, but predominantly I don't let anyone's ideas or influence, influence me at all.
Q. You felt pressure to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Because it was your sister?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Because of everything that had happened?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think so, yeah.
Q. If there were two young sisters, perhaps talented athletes, would you suggest they took up two different sports?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. Serena and I have had a great time on tour, definitely. I've got the built-in doubles partner, the built-in hitting partner, the built-in motivator. If I don't bring my brush, she has hers. Vice versa. It's a good thing, definitely.
Q. When you see each other in the morning and she says, "How are you feeling?" Do you not give her the full report because she's a competitor?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what the exact thinking was on that. I left earlier than she did today. I knew I needed more time to prepare than she did.
Q. Is the feeling different after this defeat at Serena's hands because of the injury than the other ones in Grand Slams?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's still not very good... It's still the same. I still feel, "What if I had put more balls in?" It definitely feels different.
Q. After you'd beaten Petrova and Zvonareva, there were a lot of people who thought you were playing the best tennis in the tournament. Do you feel somehow cheated because of this injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, it was -- it was the thing I dreaded happening the most at this tournament, and it was something that I knew could happen because I wasn't 100 percent. But I didn't expect it, actually. But I knew that these things could -- this is life, this is how it is sometimes.
V. Williams - Day 10
Thursday, July 3, 2003
V. WILLIAMS/K. Clijsters
4-6, 6-3, 6-1
MODERATOR: Can we have your questions, please, for Venus Williams.
Q. How is your injury?
VENUS WILLIAMS: How is it, I don't know. I'm just...
I'm doing okay, I guess. Good enough.
Q. To what extent was it affecting you out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I definitely could feel pain out there, especially in that first set. I think really I just panicked. I just didn't know if I could play, if I was going to be able to hit, and I couldn't calm myself down. I think that, more than anything, than the injury, lost me the first set.
I mean more than playing bad, more than maybe the pain, that I just couldn't calm down about it.
Q. Were you surprised that you couldn't calm down? I don't even know if you've ever been in a situation like that.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know, because I just knew from the first time that I pulled it, like a few weeks ago that -- how I couldn't play, and I didn't know -- I just didn't know, I couldn't calm down, basically.
So finally the rain came and took my mom and four sisters to get me to calm down.
Q. What did they say to help you pull yourself together? What did you tell yourself too, then?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just -- basically, I had to accept that it happened to me. I think that's what it was. I didn't really want to accept that this was happening again. I didn't want to accept that I was probably going to have to play with pain. There was a lot of things -- I was pretty much in denial, I think. I just couldn't get through it, that set.
My mom, Serena helped. Serena talked to me in the locker room. The trainers helped me calm down some. So I was able to get my head straight at least.
Q. I'd like to talk to you about your lovely outfit, which I found very refreshing change and much more feminine than usual. Can you tell me, it has the flavor of the '50s about it. Do you find it at all restricting when you swing the racquet? Do you find the fuller skirt gets in the way of the swing of the racquet at all? That's the first thing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so. I was a little concerned actually in the first match because it was so flowy. But I just kind of flick it out the way in between the points.
Q. Your racquet has never touched it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It may have, I don't know. It's really so much fun to wear that dress, though.
Q. Do you have several dresses like that, or are they all the same type?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Several dresses...? I have like six or seven with me.
Q. And they're all the same with the lattice work at the back, etc.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Is it your own design?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's half my own design. I wasn't the whole catalyst behind it.
Q. Can we buy it somewhere?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm just not sure where, especially here in England.
Q. It's got your name in it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: (Smiling).
Q. Were you feeling the injury before that point at all, or everything was fine?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Which point?
Q. Where you kind of pulled yourself on it in the first set, or had you come into the match feeling it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I didn't come into the match feeling anything. I was really just playing normal. Kim played some good games, but they all were very close. I was normal, ready to play.
And, you know, once that happened, that became a factor. Not only was I trying to beat Kim, but I was trying to...
It was just a tough match at that point.
Q. With all the experience that you have facing your sister in finals, how has your approach evolved? How is it different today than it was for previous matches?
VENUS WILLIAMS: How is it different? Oh, I don't know. I have no idea. It's still a Wimbledon final, so there's a lot at stake for our careers, at least.
But I'd like to think at least I'm a better player by now.
Q. But she's won the last four times that you've met in this situation.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh-hmm.
Q. How has your approach changed during those matches and how might it be different for Saturday?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the times that I was -- I mean, all four of those times, it was at least close. It wasn't a total blowout. I know that at times I made mistakes at the wrong time.
Basically, she just played better than me. Sometimes you have to concede that.
Q. What was it that your family members said to you that helped you sort of regroup?
VENUS WILLIAMS: My mom said, you know, just -- what did she say? She said, "If you're gonna play, play. If you not gonna play, you know, pull out. If you gonna hurt it more, don't play. You've already been fighting with this a long time."
My other sisters were there chiming in. I was trying to take it all in (laughing).
Q. Did you consider pulling out?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I couldn't. Not at this point. I had to play it out at least, whether I -- whatever happened, I was gonna play it out.
Q. Do you have any concern you might be less than 100 percent for Saturday at this stage?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. If I'm less than 100 percent, I'll still be out there. But I don't think my strain is as worse -- as bad as the first time.
Q. Have you been advised to rest tomorrow and not practice or just go about what would be your normal strategy for a pre-final?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I probably won't hit until late in the afternoon, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't hit at all. I think if I'm gonna play, I have to prepare in the same way. I probably won't hit as many serves, no overheads, probably not extreme, high-intensity level, but I'll still hit.
Q. Have you ever played a major match like this with as much pain?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As a rule, I never play with pain. I generally retire immediately. I've never been taught to play with pain. My parents always told us to put the racquet in the bag, go off the court.
I just felt this time -- I just wanted to win, basically.
Q. What do you think about your performance of getting through this match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, Kim was playing so well, returning so many balls - you know, hitting lots of great shots and getting lots of balls back and playing generally very well.
So I felt very good about getting through the match.
Q. I guess I was thinking more in terms of the inner drive, the courage to keep going. What do you think of yourself for doing that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was -- I just kept telling myself, "Venus, do what you doing in practice. If you win, lose, draw, fall off, fall down, whatever, just do what I was taught to do." Really, that was what was in my mind.
I was still down a second set and just made sure I stayed calm and didn't get, you know, upset about the situation, that I couldn't play with full force.
And then after a while I decided, you know, "If I'm gonna be out here, I'm gonna still serve big." At times I did serve slower than what I usually do, but I really wanted to just do everything I could do at that point.
Q. At what time did you get the impression, "I can actually win here"?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never thought I could lose (laughing). I never -- I never had that in my mind frame. Obviously, I realized that I was playing a very good player, very talented, and that if I didn't play better, that would be the ultimate.
But I didn't really think that.
Q. You said this time you just really wanted to win so you kept going. Tomorrow -- Saturday, do you feel that same kind of fire, that it's different from maybe other times that you really want to win?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I say what was the difference between this match and any other matches, I really wanted to win. I never retired out of a Grand Slam match and I just felt I couldn't do it.
Obviously, if I got to the point where I really just was feeling really just horrible, awful and awful, I would hang up the racquet. I'm no fool. But I felt that I could try.
I'm really just glad that the third set didn't go any further. I was really blessed that I was able to get those games quickly.
Q. Are you going to need more will than usual in the final then because you are going to be injured?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it doesn't stop me from running, that's good the thing. I can still run. I can still hit the ground strokes pretty fairly well, at least at this point.
Q. Considering the injury, do you think that was actually your best performance of the year so far?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. I've had some good matches here at this tournament, and I'm telling you, each one counts. If I didn't win that third round, I wouldn't be in the semifinals. If I didn't win that semifinal, I wouldn't be in the final.
All my matches, I've been quite happy with how I've played.
Q. Your sister said that you're playing the best tennis of the tournament so far. To have such an endorsement from the person you'll be playing in the final, what does that mean to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Pardon me?
Q. To have such an endorsement of the person you'll be playing in the final...
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'd like to think I was playing best, too.
But in the end, it doesn't matter about the whole tournament or what happened behind. It's about performing at that moment and playing better than that - whoever you're playing against at that moment and rising to the occasion. So that's really what it will take.
Q. Do you think Serena is going to have a hard time separating on Saturday playing her opponent who might have an injury she could exploit?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't think so (smiling).
Q. How come?
VENUS WILLIAMS: This is the Wimbledon final. If I'm lame and injured, that's not her problem, really.
Q. She's just gonna go after you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Better for her.
Q. Is she just gonna go after you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. If I'm playing an opponent that's injured...
Really, I don't see my opponent across the net. I just see the ball. I can't control what they're doing on their side; I can only control what I'm doing on my side. So that's really how I see it. If they're injured, I hope it doesn't become something horrible, but there's nothing I can do about it. That's probably how she feels.
Q. Can you describe the pain a little bit and when it hurt the most. Was it on the serves? A sharp thing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, on the serve, just the reaching up and then just on the ground strokes when you're , oh...
Q. It's every time you hit the ball?
VENUS WILLIAMS: After a while, I mean, you start to block it out. But especially once I started a service game again, and then once the return games, I would have a chance to like recover until the next service game.
Q. So during the rain delay they just wrapped you up?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Iced and they looked at me all over and saw, you know, if I was compensating somewhere else. Just helped me out. They wrapped me real tight. I think that helped.
Q. What did the trainer do on the court, actually? Did she give you some pain-free drugs or anything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, no drugs, no. (Inaudible.)
Q. What did she do on the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What did I do?
Q. What did she do?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Basically, I got a tape job, but it wasn't as comprehensive as after the rain delay, because obviously there's more time.
And some advice, she told me to breathe deeply and try to calm down and all that. Didn't work immediately, but it still helped.
Q. Taped you here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, in the stomach area.
Q. How does your level of confidence, when you play Serena, compare with when you play everybody else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my level of confidence just depends on how well I'm playing and how much I've been training before the tournament, too. I really never -- really concerned with who's across the net. I'm only concerned if I know that I'm messing up badly. Then I'm concerned with that, because I know I have to fight against myself in the match much more than what's necessary.
So maybe through all the matches I played, the only thing that may worry me, is if I know I'm not playing well.
Q. Was your stomach bothering you at all through this tournament, or really it just hit you today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: On and off. You know, I had like good days then bad days. I mean, not really bad, but just on and off.
Q. Some of the men's players like Ferrero have said it's hard to get rid of a stomach strain. It can come back and haunt you at times.
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's what I found out (laughing).
Q. What can you do to try to address it? Have the doctors told you a way to avoid it in some way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I kind of feel like I should be through this by now, personally. But that's not the way life always is, huh?
But I have to start looking at other areas, seeing if maybe my back is tight or if there's other reasons why I haven't been able to get better as much as, you know, why I'm not pain-free at this point.
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