Venus Williams Interview - French Open, May 28Posted on May 28, 2010
Q. How good are you feeling at this stage of the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, right now I've been, I think, doing everything well. I'm moving well and serving well, playing the closer points well.
That feels good. More than anything I've been fortunate enough not to get caught up in the rain, so I don't know how that happened, but last year I did get caught in the rain. I think I had like two matches incomplete at once, which was terrible. I guess maybe this year it wasn't my turn.
Q. Serena goes out there and wins so impressively before you. Does that inspire you at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Of course. I try not to watch the match before me, but since she was playing so well, it was easy. If it had been close and it would have been a lot tougher, it would have made me tight for my own match.
It definitely helped that she got an easier win and played so well, because then I was nice and relaxed.
Q. The other night they played here until I think 9:55 or 9:56. I checked and you played to 9:47, I think, against Pennetta. What memories do you have of that match and that situation?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, as a player, usually you just want to keep playing just because an interruption of the match isn't easy to come back the next day, especially if it's like 5 All or you're down a break, and it's a lot easier to kind of keep that rhythm. So just from the player's perspective, that's how I felt.
Q. Sometimes when you're playing doubles you get in a real scheduling bind or you have to wait around, all that. On the other hand, a lot of people say that it's really helped you and Serena. Your comments on the bottom line in terms of playing dubs?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, for us, doubles is very serious. We want to win both of the titles. I mean, there's nothing like adding a Major to your name. Without the doubles Majors, we wouldn't be in these double digits the way that we are.
We took a long time off from it, so now we're dedicated to, you know, being in shape enough, fit enough and just mentally prepared to play. So, I mean, for us, scheduling or whatever happens, we're dedicated to both events.
Q. On the men's side, Mike and Bob talk about the loyalty, the feeling, how they have each other's back. Is that something special when you step out there with your little sister, and does it give you an extra little something?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think, first of all, it helps that we get along. It helps to be born with a doubles partner who happens to be an extremely great tennis player.
So we just, us and the Bryan brothers, we lucked out in that way. I think the best part is that we do get along and trust each other's game. I mean, that's 1 and 2 in doubles.
Q. On the men's side in the past day or two, there's been a lot of discussion about the three different surfaces in our sport. You excel on grass, obviously. Could you talk about between grass, hard, and clay, which of those surfaces requires the most athleticism, would you say?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Um, I mean, it's not easy to win on any surface. I mean, no match is a given. I mean, obviously this surface is challenging because you have to be patient.
A lot of it is definitely mental, especially for most of the successful players. Most of us are just very aggressive, so to change your mindset enough to be patient on this surface is tough.
Grass, I mean, the grass is getting slower and slower every year, so the challenge isn't the same as it was when I first started, let alone, you know, in the '90s and '80s.
Hardcourt, I mean, I grew up on that stuff, so most people are pretty good on the hardcourts these days. I mean, the clay is probably the toughest.
Q. The late great Arthur Ashe said that on grass, the points, which were really fast then but are still pretty fast, really required a certain mental toughness that was more than the others. Would you reflect on that? Do you think there's anything there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, grass suits my game, so I have no problem with it. My only I mean, for me, the clay is just about my mindset, remembering that I have to play some extra balls, and it's not gonna be, you know, like a hardcourt.
So as long as I keep my mind there, I'm fine. But when I don't, then that's when I have issues. The grass is so different from when Arthur Ashe played. I mean, it's just so different. I can't even make that comparison.
Q. One of the most extraordinary things about you and Serena, and it's obviously been proven with time, is that even though you're competing for titles, everybody knows the devotion you guys have for each other as sisters. Family comes first; there's no question of that. Did you ever think in the back of your mind, well, it might be a problem early on? And are you surprised in any way, or really is it just natural and I mean, you guys are going for the same thing. It's just an extraordinary thing.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yes, we are. I think it's about having your priorities straight, and growing up we were always taught that family is first. God comes first before anything and to have your life in perspective.
I think with a lot of siblings that played, I don't see where they had a problem. Obviously Serena and I played at a level that's very high. I think it's a huge difference. But at the end of the day, we have each other. Our parents and our other sisters, we all keep each other in check, so I don't think there's any room for anything else.
Q. Obviously this is all relative. You are a fine player on clay, but it's considered your least best surface, if you want to put it that way. But you've been playing great on it this spring. Are you feeling more comfortable? Is there anything different about what you're doing this spring than normal?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, like I said, when you win the Majors, it's because you've played well and you've played aggressively. And it's the same for this Major, and I think in the past I've played too aggressively, so just this season, I've really tried to play my game still, but to be patient.
I think that's helped a lot, just trying to know that I'm gonna have to play a few more balls. I've always known that, but I'm not sure if I always accepted it.
Q. I was about to ask exactly the same question. Does age make a difference? Are you becoming more patient as a person, as well?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Patient? I don't know. As a person, I don't know, but obviously as time passes, I think that I understand the game more and more on any surface, to be honest; I mean, obviously trying hard to just play well.
Q. Would you say that Roland Garros clay is different from other clay courts?
VENUS WILLIAMS: All clay courts are different. None play the same. This one plays the best. I think you get the truest bounce, but every clay court is different like every grass. I mean, I think only hardcourts are the ones that are most consistent.
Q. Your dress obviously was the main topic, you know, in the previous round. You had on the same today. Do you have another model ready for the rest of the tournament? What can we expect?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, there's only one model. This dress will only get worn while I'm here. After this it will be retired, so I'll get the best use out of it while I'm here.
Q. On that same extremely important topic, were you a little bit surprised by all the attention, all the fuss? Did you get a little bit of a chuckle out of it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I can feel the attention around me. I don't, like, read anything on the Internet. I don't expose myself to any of that, but I can definitely see, you know, from, you know, friends and family and obviously being in here, e mailing me.
All I can say is that I mean, I think maybe after this tournament, illusion may be retired, because it's not really the point of it all. The point was the illusion of having, you know it just has gone past the point, so I feel that unfortunately I may have to retire it.
Q. So it's gonna be back to reality?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I may be wearing all the same boring underclothes as the other people. I mean, as great as the design is, I really want the focus to be on the tennis. So obviously wearing lace on the court will still be an amazing innovation, but I'll have to find a way to try to make it a little less noteworthy, possibly, is the best word.
Q. The other day, you said lace hadn't been worn before, but do you know of the American player Gussie Moran?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, of course the little undershorts. She was famous for that. Well, I guess before my era. Lace hasn't been worn since I've been playing pro. I guess I should have put it that way. I guess back in the day, there was more detail in the fabrics, yeah.
Q. Clearly you grew up on hard and you loved the grass. Have your feelings about clay, this clay, evolved? Did you hate it at one point? Do you find yourself loving it? Do you love the game? I mean, how did you feel early on in your career, and where are you now with it?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've always liked clay. I mean, I actually think I move really well on it. I slide into the ball really well, and actually I feel like when I'm out there I'm quite comfortable.
So I love all surfaces. I've never been a player that's like, Oh, I don't want to play on this or that. I'm not super picky.
Q. I know it's hard to talk about other players and matches and stuff. We have Maria and Justine tomorrow. Any thoughts on that, especially because it's happening so early in the tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, they play each other?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I've got my own matches to play, so singles and doubles. I guess the best player will win. I guess they got caught up in the rain, so they haven't had a chance to really I guess settle in on the thought. So it will be entertaining, I'm sure. They're both amazing players.
Q. Will you watch it, if you can?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I mean, if I'm not playing doubles somewhere, I'll you know, it will be very entertaining to watch.