Day 5 - An interview with Venus Williams - Thursday, May 29, 2008
Q. How would you rate your match today on a scale of 1 to 10? And so far, would you say, so far so good?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, always so far so good. Always nice to have a win. And, yeah, I mean, I think I played well and I just tried to improve literally on every point I'm playing out there, just to play better every point, play better every match.
As far as rating systems, I don't do that really, because, I mean, there have been times I've played terrible and won, and there's been times I played good and didn't win.
It's really just about living in that moment on the court, so that's what I did.
Q. Did she frighten you at any point?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't feel frightened on the court, no.
Q. Can you talk about playing Pennetta, who you played in Bangkok last year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, right on. She is obviously really good and works super hard, so I'll just be ready to just try to play some better tennis than what she does. I think it will just come down to that.
Q. How do you negotiate each different round at the Grand Slams where you know you're going to get a lesser player in the first round and then generally step up? Do you know you have to get a tiny bit better, or do you kind of go on on the day?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just naturally I feel like I get better every round, usually. That's just from being able to hit a lot of balls.
But at the same time, I don't take anyone for granted, because everyone's really trying to win, no matter what their name is. So I definitely go out there and treat each opponent extremely serious, because people want to win. That would be me, also. I also want to win.
Q. About Pennetta. You say you won easily in Seoul, and you lost two sets but one set with a long tiebreaker in Bangkok. What do you remember of that match? It was she who played unbelievable well? Was you who didn't play at your best? Both things? What is the difference to play her on clay compared to hardcourt? Sorry about all these questions. Try to elaborate.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess in Seoul I won easy. In Bangkok it was tough. I played three weeks in a row and so many matches I was a little tired, so that was tough. But she played well and was determined and deserved the win.
Yeah, as far as this match, clay is different. But ultimately I'm still going to play aggressive, because that's what I like to do. But I will hit as many balls as I need to.
Q. She says that sometimes with you she speaks Italian and you speak Italian. I remember you could speak some Italian. How is your Italian?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't spend enough time in Rome or anywhere else in Italy, so hopefully in the future ‑‑ probably when I retire ‑‑ then I can get better at my Italian. But for the moment, hopefully she'll keep helping me.
Q. You spent a lot of time up at the net today. Was that something you had planned to do coming in? It just kind of happened that way?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, it's really nothing planned. I just really feel comfortable at the net, and I don't know why. I just do. I like it up there, so I do try to get there when I can, and I just like being at the net.
It's just finally kicked in. I should always have been there years ago, but now I just like it and I'm just there and I feel good there. So that's just why I'm there, is I like it.
Q. How are you striking the ball? And how do you know when you're striking the ball well? What are the elements that you notice?
VENUS WILLIAMS: As a professional, there's no excuses. I should always be striking well.
But, I mean, I always tell myself that if I feel like I'm hitting well or if I feel like I'm not, it's really not about the feeling. It's about going out there and doing what you need to do to play.
So I try not to be a feel player. I just try to go out and play, so it's more of a mental thing for me, just being mentally prepared.
Q. Would you rather win a match 4 and 4 when you're playing well than win a match 1 and 1 when you're playing poorly?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Rather win a match. Yeah.
Q. No difference to you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No difference these days, or any day.
Q. Women's tennis has lost three of its biggest stars recently with Justine and Martina Hingis and Kim retiring at fairly early ages. You and your little sister were sort of criticized a little bit for not having a commitment to the game, not really getting the most out of your talents. What are your reflections on that criticism on you and Serena in light of these retirements?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everyone's life is different, and I think all of us are wise enough at this point to know that you never know what the next person is going through behind closed doors.
So I think those girls made the best decision for women, for themselves. And the best decision for Serena and I, we make those decisions, whatever they are, despite any criticism. We make them for ourselves, and we make them with our families and the people we love and trust.
So that's what we do. My decision to be on tour is the ultimate decision and the ultimate blessing, and I love it here, even if, you know, it doesn't go the way I want. I still love my job, so I'll be here.
Q. Do you think your interests in other fields other than tennis in a way has helped you sustain your career? Is that something you're proud of?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just do what's right for me. Whether it helps me sustain my career, I don't know. I think it lets me know who I am. That's definitely important, because tennis is very, all‑consuming, and you can really lose your identity in it.
So I feel like I do know who I am off of the court, and I think that's important.
Q. Just one more question on Pennetta. I'm sorry, but the Italians don't have many players who play the final rounds usually. So what I'm asking you is she said before that against you she has to play well, particularly well on your serve and on the return, from the first moment of the rally. Do you think that is correct? I mean, she says that she has not to be too passive against you, because when you take initiative, it's over, she said. So she will be aggressive. As you said, you are going to be aggressive, too. Do you think she's right? Which way do you want to approach the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she needs to try everything she can, obviously, and I will, too. But sure, I mean, if she doesn't ‑‑ if her or another player ‑‑ I mean, I'm strong and tall and I play aggressive.
Either way, I'm going to take control of the points, so I'm definitely ‑‑ I like to be in control, but that's normal. You don't want to be out of control in the point. That's not good tennis.
So obviously for her to play good at try to control of the point is a good idea.
Q. We were talking to Serena yesterday about how she spends downtime here, and she mentioned that she had downloaded a full season of the Jeffersons.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Uh‑huh.
Q. And I was just wondering if you share her love of that classic sitcom.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never really been into the Jeffersons. Yeah. She does download a lot of programs. She's very serious about watching programs. (laughter.) She likes her programming. That's Serena.
Q. You're not as much of a video hound?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I mean, maybe I like a movie, but I read a lot more books. I'm like ‑‑ I'm usually trying to learn something. (laughter.)
Q. Do you find there's nothing to be learned from the Jeffersons?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess you can learn to move on up. I'm more into ‑‑ moving up to the ball. I'm into that one show about the other people. What show was that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. They weren't moving up. They lived in the hood, in the ghetto.
Q. Good Times?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Good Times. I loved JJ, and I think that the daughter, I thought ‑‑ I loved her hair. If I downloaded a show, it would be that one.
Q. I have a couple. If I'm correct, you're wearing your class ring, speaking of learning.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah.
Q. You seemed very proud of having made that accomplishment. Most players aren't really worried about their education. I think that Mario Ancic just graduated law school.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Are you serious? He trumped me.
Q. You can go back and keep going.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I can't go back, no.
Q. Why is that important to you? And do you think a lot of players kind of miss the boat from expanding their horizons or whatever by not going?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. I don't think any player has missed the boat, because school is a full‑time job. For my last class I almost had to stop playing. I did have to stop playing for a few weeks. It just really took too much of my time, day and night, all day.
So I just did it because I like a challenge, and plus once I started I had to finish. And of course because I wanted to be in fashion, so I wanted to finish, so that way I could use my new expertise.
But, no, I don't think every player needs to do it. It's tough. It takes a lot of time, so...
Q. If I can go off subject a little bit, where does Fed Cup stand for you now? Is that something you still want to commit to at any time, or all the time or do you think that you've given it what you can and maybe leave it for the younger girls? Where is that in the Venus Williams scheme of things?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love Fed Cup, and I always played Fed Cup because I love Billie and I love Zina, so that was really part of my motivation. The ties now are really tough. Like after the Australian and after the US Open I have to take care of me, and so for me it's probably not the best decision to play after those tournaments.
So a lot of times about playing Fed Cup is really about is really about just making the best decision for me and my tennis. It's not that I don't want to play, because I always feel torn about it usually, because I love Zina and Billie.
So it was tough to make the decision not to play, but usually I did it because it wasn't good for me. I needed to rest or do whatever I needed to do.
I'll try to play if it's a good decision for me.
Q. So are you saying you don't love Mary Joe quite as much?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really know her. I know Zina and Billie, so it's definitely a personal connection.
Q. Do you think it would be a good idea for her to do maybe what Patrick did and maybe go with the young kids and formulate a team and hope they come together, even if it takes...
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know what she should do. I don't have the magic cure answer.
Q. Try to figure out you are not a tennis player, you're not playing this tournament, and you are just a girl, a smart girl like you are, here, a woman, like an American tourist here. Which would be your ideal day in Paris, if you can start for the morning, waking up and go to Montmarte or where?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Jeez. That just seems too luxurious. I've never had that option.
I guess I wake up and I'd probably comb my hair and put on some makeup. That doesn't happen ever.
And then, I don't know, I'd probably take the train out of Paris and go to the country. That's probably what I would do, go to Champagne or Burgundy or something and see something outside of Paris.
Q. But maybe a Tour Eiffel or, I don't know, whatever, Versailles, Le Louvre, what?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Rue Saint Horore. Shopping. I don't have culture.
Q. You pulled out of some events last spring. I wonder if you could tell us what was ailing you, and if it's taken care of.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I never get into detail about what's bothering me, ever really, even if it costs me matches. So I'm still not going to, but I do feel a lot better. I should have taken the time off a long time ago. Things happen at the time they're supposed to happen, and I feel a lot better and I'm happy for it and I'm much happier playing, because I feel good. So I'm happy.
Q. I don't know if you followed the photo shoot thing for the WTA and Maria Sharapova. You're a big star, you're pulled in a lot of different directions. Do you sympathize with Sharapova and her issue with the amount of time it was going to take?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really don't know much about her particular issue, but I do know that I think the commercial is a good idea. I think that in the future we all can work together more efficiently. That was the past, and the commercial will come out and it will be awesome.