Re: 2008 Wimbledon Interviews
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Venus Williams def. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 7-5
Q. Satisfied with that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was happy with that one. The first set was pretty clean. The second set she just changed her strategy, started playing better, and got that break back. Played aggressive to get the break back.
You know, I was pretty happy because she started putting some pressure on. I had some good answers.
Q. The service ace to finish it off. Did you look up at the board to see how fast it was?
VENUS WILLIAMS: How fast was it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay.
Q. Which I think might equal your best. How important is that power to your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, if I don't have the power that I have, then I get a lot closer to average. I think the power with my movement, and obviously with my strokes adds a ton to my game. It's a real blessing. Yeah, 127's a good way to end it.
Q. Do you and Serena have contests to see who's fastest?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If she did break my fast serve, then I would definitely be trying to break it.
I'm actually never really trying to serve that hard, if that makes any sense. It just comes big. It's just how I serve. It's just me, so...
Q. Big chances for both of you now in this tournament.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the chances were wonderful, you know, from the beginning, from Round 1. That's how we see it. The more we progress, obviously the closer it gets.
But I know personally I'm really focused on my next round.
Q. You ran through the first five games in 17 minutes. Then did she just pick up her pace? All of a sudden you get broken and are trailing. What happens there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just knew that whenever I had a chance to serve for it, I was just was gonna serve it out.
I was, you know, disappointed not to have that chance at 5 4. She just hit a lot of good first serves, a lot of good first volleys. When that ball's bouncing low and I'm having to hit up, she has a good chance to hit a good volley.
She just really made her shots, and I think that's what counted. She changed the strategy, made her shots, and that was good for her.
Q. You've been such a clear spokesperson for equal pay and also for gender equality. The commentator Justin Gimelstob has made some very controversial comments about Kournikova, Vaidisova, women in general. What are your thoughts about those?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I heard about it. You know, I don't know that much about it. I played mixed doubles with him and won some slams. Came close to winning here.
I don't know in great detail what the whole issue is, but I've heard that he issued an apology and is donating some money to I think, the women's sports foundation, what have you.
So I think that we should accept his apology and allow him to move on and continue to contribute to tennis.
Q. You and Serena reached four majors in a row. A lot of big players have struggled here. Is it getting harder to have that kind of consistency in women's tennis?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Four majors in a row?
Q. You and Serena were in four majors in a row.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Finals, you mean?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Okay. Is it difficult?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm not sure what the challenge is for the next player. My challenge in my career has been my injuries. That has been, you know, my major problem. It hasn't always been easy coming back. It's not always easy working hard. Sometimes it's not easy even figuring out what's wrong.
So that has been challenging. I'm just praying. I want to be healthy. So that way if I lose, at least it's because I lost, and it wasn't because I wasn't feeling good or unhealthy or struggling.
Q. Do you think the tour is deeper than it was five or ten years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think all the girls have desire. I think they all want to be No. 1, no matter what her ranking is, no matter what her name is. I think that it's good to have competition. I love a challenge, personally.
I think it's nice to see everyone playing better, and that's good.
Q. It's not been the best of weeks for American men. Do you feel the pressure on your shoulders to try to deliver in the women's?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, actually not. But it hasn't been. I'm always rooting for the fellow Americans. We just aren't so lucky right now. But maybe soon.
Q. Do you know what's going wrong?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't.
Q. Do you think if you did know what was going on you would be paid a lot?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I did know what was going wrong I don't even know if I would if it would be the right thing for me to call up somebody and say, Hey, look, I saw what you were doing. Don't do it any more. Got to just pay attention to what's happening in my own camp.
Q. You were talking about staying healthy, which of course is the main object of every athlete. When you go out to practice, are you worried that all of a sudden it may show up again, or are you in good enough shape with physical therapy, et cetera, where you feel confident it won't happen?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, pretty much the only things that you can do in practice would be like to, you know, blow your ankle or your knee, and I'm not too worried about that. But when there is a problem, I have to be smart about how I'm practicing.
In the past, I had the tendency to practice till it hurt too much to continue, so now I know, it starts hurting, stop. But that's only been the last few months. I'm getting wiser.
Q. You obviously enjoy doubles a lot. But when you're playing singles, what is the dynamic and what is the appreciation of that one to one competition, and what do you enjoy most about it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: What I enjoy most about the singles is all the room that you have. In singles, even if I hit not the best shot, I'm pretty confident I'm going to run down that next shot. On the run, I feel like I'm just as good as standing still.
In doubles you don't have as much space. If you don't hit the best shot you're in trouble. Put your partner in trouble, too. So I think that's probably the biggest challenge.
Q. And how about the competitive aspect? What do you appreciate most about being in competition against just one other person? What do you thrive with most in that aspect of it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like that I'm in control of exactly what's happening. I do like that. I definitely feel very liberated in singles. Sometimes in doubles I feel a little like closed in, if that makes any sense.
Q. Tennis players have to deal with three major hassles in a way: There's those devastating losses that come, incredible travel, and then injuries. Can you compare them in any way as obstacles in your career?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Wow, injuries, yeah.
Q. Travel and tough losses.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Tough losses. For me, tough losses just make me go work harder, so I can deal with that. I think if you get tough losses four or five years in a row, never get a win, that can becoming a complex. Thankfully it's not mine.
The travel, I mean, this year, at the beginning of the year I was everywhere. I was in Australia, and then the Middle East, then Bangalore. Then it was like, no more long trips. It was too much.
So probably the injuries are the toughest because it's out of your control. I think a lot of athletes, we are very controlling and high achievers. When there's something out of your control you just can't accept that, and that's the hard part.
Q. In terms of the travel, do you sometimes wake up and have no idea where you are?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I usually I don't know the day. Like today I didn't know it was Saturday. I just knew it was third round. That's what it's all about (laughter).
Q. You've looked fabulous all week in your EleVen dresses. Is it exciting wearing your own creations at the world's biggest tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely is. I love EleVen. EleVen is my baby. It's not even a year old. We have a funny little shirt. It's like "EleVen since '07." It's really only been out like about eight months, so it's pretty exciting.
I love what I'm wearing here, and I'm looking forward to just being really creative off of the court. That's what I do.
Q. Don't you think that women tennis players should go back on tennis and less fashion, because that may be the reason why so many failed this year, Sharapova among others?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think women in general, we like fashion. It's a huge industry, I think, for the athletic companies. It's always getting more competitive with the designs and the styles, and right now the trend is to do something different.
The trend in sporting right now is to take elements from ready to wear and incorporate them into athletic wear. So every company has to keep up, especially EleVen.
I think that's just really about business in general, and the product is that us women get to wear wonderful clothes. I think in the past, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals, they wore wonderful things that brought a lot of attention to women's tennis, and that's what they needed at that time.
I don't think in any way that it subtracts from the competition level or how well we're playing. The fact of the matter is someone's got to win and someone's got to lose. Some days it's not who you think it's gonna be that's gonna be the winner.
Q. Has EleVen been going well in the States?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's going well.
Q. Given the difficulty of the sort of traveling that you do, could you tell us again why the Olympics means so much to you that you would make such a difficult trip and one so close to the US Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Right. Well, actually, like before the French I started realizing how scary my schedule was. I was going to be home about 11 days between, you know, Rome and the US Open. But that all got worked out when I lost early, so no worries now (laughter).
But, anyway, I love the Olympics. I love the thought of being able to win gold. It's just extremely special. It's beyond it has been beyond my dreams to play the Olympics. I always thought of winning here and then winning there, and competing there was really special.
It takes a while to set in. You know, a few years after you win you're like, wait a minute, this is my gold. Oh, my God, yes. So it's exciting.
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