Berlin, 3 May 2004
Round table interview with Venus Williams
Question (Q): You have started playing really well. What is the difference compared to the last
WILLIAMS: Oh, thank you. Maybe it’s just to have the opportunity to go out there and play, and to play more or less pain free. I’ve built the confidence in the game. It was tough at the beginning of the year: I didn’t have enough preparation time. When I was playing a match I was just compromising my game. It is difficult to play when you are not fit enough. I guess the difference is that I am healthy.
Q: Which one of the different injuries you had was the most difficult?
WILLIAMS: The leg was difficult because it just wasn’t going away. Then, I turned my ankle a couple of times. It was really frustrating. But I had a lot of good support. My sisters, my mum and my dad were very positive: They always said I was playing well, even if I wasn’t. So I thought I just have to focus on the positive.
Q: Is it something you tend to do in your head, not to think positive?
WILLIAMS: I think I can do better. It’s not my strength to think positive, but it is important to be positive and not to think what went wrong, what did I do wrong in the match. I got caught up in a negative way of thinking.
Q: Did you also have a back injury?
WILLIAMS: Not, thank God. That wasn’t on the list.
Q: How important was the win in Charleston?
WILLIAMS: It was important. I was able to play a lot of matches and to improve. It was good for me.
Q: Did the feeling of winning boost your confidence?
WILLIAMS: That’s an interesting question. I have won titles so many times, so I knew the feeling. But it was good: I knew what I had to do in matches.
Q: Did you at times have the fear of not making it, of not getting back?
WILLIAMS: No. It was just a long way. But, I never felt that I wouldn’t make it. I always had hope that I would get through.
Q: Did you ever have doubts?
WILLIAMS: No, I never doubted it, but it was a long way and hard work.
Q: What strength did you take out of it?
WILLIAMS: The fact that I know I can do it. That I can regroup and have to focus on the future. It is hard when you get negative on yourself.
Q: Now, it’s two titles. Are you going for a bigger one?
WILLIAMS: I’d love to. I wouldn’t say No. But I have to deserve everything.
Q: Is there something you want to improve?
WILLIAMS: I will work a little more on my serve. Especially on my first serve. I’ll work on staying calmer on the court because I get too excited. I need to calm down, look at the ball and hit it and not get too excited about what I can do with it. I must not get ahead of myself.
Q: You’ve never one the German Open. What makes you optimistic?
WILLIAMS: I’ve only been here once and wasn’t here long enough. But, I feel good, I’m moving well. I’m feeling positive. I just have to stay positive.
Q: How are your chances at the French Open?
WILLIAMS: That seems a little bit away. It seems so far, but so close. I definitely want to play well here and keep building my game. Do the right things, do what my mum says.
Q: What does she say?
WILLIAMS: All the right things. I don’t attribute my mistakes to my coaches but to myself.
Q: How do you rate your game?
WILLIAMS: I am in a better mental state. I feel I understand the game better
Q: Do you think getting over all the setbacks has made you a stronger player?
WILLIAMS: I would have preferred not to have the setbacks, but I’ve never looked at it that way.
Q: Some of your rivals think that both you and Serena are good players, but when you are both at a tournament you are twice as good as individuals?
WILLIAMS: I never thought about it that way. We definitely give each other a lot of support and motivation. We have a lot of fun, but I never thought it has an effect if war are both in the draw.
Q: Was it important for Serena for you to get back. Is she not as strong without you?
WILLIAMS: We are both fighting for each other. But, I don’t put pressure on her. She is an adult now.
Q: You have a lot of activities, you don’t see as much of each other.
WILLIAMS: We both have tight schedules. We don’t see each other as much as before. I think Charleston was the last time. We went shopping together, laughed a lot. We had a great gime.
Q: Being away for a time, did you enjoy other things more?
WILLIAMS: At this point, I like tennis more than a lot of things. There are a lot of things to explore, but I want to be best at tennis.
Q: What did you miss most?
WILLIAMS: There wasn’t anything I missed too much. I think it was good in a way I was away. It will maybe extend my career. Playing year in year out is a lot to ask of a person.
Q: Until when do you intend to play?
WILLIAMS: I am not limiting it. I like to think I know when it’s time to go, but not now.
Q: Everyone in the top 10 was injured, it was not only you. Do you think there should be some changes?
WILLIAMS: As regards the sport as a business: I think to get the public to know what the tour is, the prestige of the titles and have it on TV. That would help.
As far a as the players: It is very demanding, it’s a lot for one person. If it’s on a team, it’s a different kind of pressure, I suppose. I just try to do my best all the time.
Q: You and your sister are supposed to go to Athens? There are discussions of the US not going?
WILLIAMS: I am expecting us to go. I haven’t heard the discussions, I haven’t been contacted. I am not worried about it. The world is hard these days, but I expect them to have good security measures to protect their athletes.
Q: Is it special for you to represent your country?
WILLIAMS: Yes, definitely. Hopefully this time I can do more than last time.
Q: From the 5 jobs you do you mentioned, what do you prefer?
WILLIAMS: Probably design. But I enjoy everything that I do. Not many people have the opportunity to do what they like. So, it is a blessing.
Once I leave the court, I have a lot of things I consider my job. Then there is practice and also other things. You need to find a balance
Q: Are you visiting some special places in Berlin?
WILLIAMS: I want to go to the zoo. Do they have popcorn?
Q: What are your favourite animals?
WILLIAMS: I don’t really know. I don’t like birds as much.
Q: Which zoos have you been to?
WILLIAMS: I was at the zoo in Warsaw. Then there was a tragedy in San Diego where I had a trip to the zoo scheduled. Then there cancelled it. Of course, I’ve been to the zoos in Florida. I don’t know why I like the zoo: Maybe it’s my inner child that likes zoo.
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