Venus Williams Interview - US Open, Sept 5Posted on September 5, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. A few matches down now after that long layoff. What are your thoughts now after this tough match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, it's always good to have a tough match, I think, or tougher match, kind of a match where you have to challenge yourself against your opponent and the conditions and everything and just continue to stay tough and to stay positive.
I was happy to do that today. We always have had very competitive matches, so I know it's not gonna be something I just walk through when I play against her. I have to stay focused and ready to take every point or else she will. It was a good challenge.
Q. How much did your success when you came to the net make you think, I should be doing this even more often?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely like to come in when I can, and the last couple matches I think I've increased the number of times I've come in.
If I get the opportunity, I'm gonna, you know, keep doing it. Just trying to work it.
Q. Are you surprised that crowd was so supporting for your opponent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't hear that much. I mean, I'm just trying to think about putting the ball in. When you're out there, you get into the zone of, it's just -- it's the zone of competing, so you don't hear that much.
Q. There was a story in the New York Times earlier this week about you being 30 and how Crissy and Martina are the only players over 30 to have won multiple majors. Can you just talk about that a little bit? How different is it for you now at 30 than five or ten years ago, and are you motivated to try and win a couple of majors after 30?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Hey, I'm here to win every match that I play, so...
That's basically what it is, you know. Nothing more or less than that.
Q. Do you feel old, or do you feel young when you're around the other players? Do you really feel like you're much older than everybody and more experienced?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't even know how I feel. Well, still young, I would say. Still young, especially in the head. Really young in the head.
Q. Sorry about the ridiculousness of this question, but they were making a big deal on TV about you tugging at your dress. You just didn't seem comfortable out there. I know it was windy, but was the dress bothering at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. The only thing that bothered me was when I didn't win the point, I think. That was it.
Q. Speaking of your sequinned tennis dresses, I think they're gorgeous. It's become the talk of the Open. What color are we gonna see next?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I do have some more colors, but so far I've worn the colors I liked best. So we'll see how I feel in the next round if I just do a repeat or something new.
Obviously the dresses are super fun. It's just fun. Hopefully just as much fun as my game is, and seeing those kind of fun in big shots.
Q. What happens to the old dresses? Like do you store them somewhere? Put them on a wall? Honestly, are they just gone?
VENUS WILLIAMS: They get retired.
A lot of times people ask me for them. There aren't many, so I don't really give them away. But like the Wimbledon museum asked me for one of my -- the Tina Turner dress. I think maybe the Tennis Hall of Fame maybe asked me for the can-can from the French.
So of course that's awesome when people ask me for those. But other than that, they get retired, and...
Q. Do they become rags that you use?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, historically I've saved like one of each dress. I do a lot of the organizing at the house, so I'll save one of Serena's, too. Lately she's taken over that.
But I think at the end of the day, I think, you know, to have an exhibition of all the dresses we've worn, I think that be -- it would be very interesting, I think. Hopefully that will happen one day.
Q. When you're in a major, does the psychology of what you're doing change at all as the tournament goes? Do you start smelling the finish line or...
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, just really trying to focus more on playing the bigger points even better, staying even more mentally tough. It's all about who can execute their game and stay positive and be smart at the same time.
So really just trying to take it all up to the next level, so that's what I'm trying to do.
Q. How much more do you know about what you can do here now than you did when the tournament began because of the injury that you had?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I know, when the tournament started, you know, it was a little, you know, uncertain on, you know, on what I -- how I would hit the ball in a match. (Smiling.)
It's just very exciting to obviously be here and hitting well and getting the games on my side, so that's what I want to continue. You know, I haven't played as much as the other players, but still I'm getting the win, so that's what's important.
Q. When you were standing up for Shahar in Dubai last year and beating her this year in Dubai and then playing her again, seems like your lives have become intertwined.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. It is funny, we do play a lot of matches at big events, like here or Madrid or Dubai. You know, big matches.
I respect her as a player. Even though, you know, we have like a certain special history together, it's almost like -- you know, I know she would have done the same thing for me or any other player.
Just as women on the tour, I think we all support each other enthusiastically. So in a way I don't think it's something too huge.
Q. She said you seemed to understand what she went through. Can you talk about that, why you can empathize with what she went through?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I think just because of my history, too, as the African-American. You know, my parents both came from the South in the '40s and '50s, and just -- you know, it was an outrage really. Just like, Are you serious? Can you really exclude someone?
This is professional tennis in 2010. We're all athletes here. We're not politicians or anything like that. So really just that, you know, the feeling inside of me was just one of almost rage and discontent. Like, Is this for real?
Unfortunately, the first year it was -- the draw had already started. No one knew until the tournament started. But the next year I'm glad things went different. I think in that way we do relate because unfortunately the world is what it is now. People don't get along for whatever reason.
I think as professional athletes, in a way we're ambassadors almost for peace, because sports brings everyone together. It was really a disappointment not to an opportunity to do that. It was good that she was able to this year.
Q. Did you have a hard time deciding whether or not to pull out of that tournament a couple years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Like I said, really, the tournament started. Qualifying started, and no one even knew until after the draw. The players didn't know.
So it was like everyone was playing, so there wasn't really -- no one knew. No one was educated on the situation. I think maybe behind the scenes a lot of stuff happened that no one knew about, but the tournament started.
Q. I interviewed Patrick McEnroe last week about his book, and in it he talks about you and Serena. He wishes you'd be better ambassadors for the game of tennis. He said to me that he thought you were doing better because of the work you've done as a player representative on the tour. But I wonder if you want to respond to that, doing better?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. What should I be doing more? (Laughter.)
Q. Right. What do you think of him saying that he thinks that you should be a better ambassador for the game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I haven't read his book, so I just don't know. I don't know. What am I supposed to think?
Q. What are your thoughts on your next opponent and the keys to that match?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Who do I play? Schiavone?
Yeah, we've had some tough matches. I've had some matches where I've been down a set and couple of breaks and was still able to win. She's definitely had some opportunities to win against me.
Obviously her game is better than ever now. Seems like everybody is hitting their stride at 30. (Laughter.) It's the new 20.
Definitely two of us going after it and trying to take that spot in the semifinals. But I'm hoping that my experience will help me, just like it did today, where I've had my opponent in some tough situations and still able to win. Hopefully that experience will help me.
Q. You have had great matches this year, and a couple not so good. What can you do when you're having one of those bad matches to stop the momentum going against you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just to stay positive. I think some of my matches that were bad, at least the ones that I was feeling pretty solid, I mean, physically, I think I expect so much from myself that I just get a little disappointed that I wasn't playing as well.
So it's important not to really care whether or not you miss that last shot or the last 20, just to focus on the next one. It will just be important for me to, Okay, hey, maybe I'm not playing as well as I expected, but doesn't matter; just get the ball in the court.
Q. You don't alter the strategy mid-match or...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Whatever it might take needs to be done. That's a good suggestion.
Q. Do you enjoy the challenge, the spin that she puts on the balls?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Schiavone? Yeah, I think she definitely puts a lot of spin on the ball. Most of the top players, most of us hit flat and through it. It is a different game, and she uses that really effectively.
I think even in Australia this year -- I've played her a couple of times this year where I've been down, so it was because she played so well, and especially with the spin.
Q. Does the hard court neutralize that somewhat or change the game obviously?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think she's pretty used to the hard court tennis because the whole tour is pretty much on hard court. So I think everyone is pretty -- even in Europe I think in the winter you have to play indoors and on a hard surface, so I'm not sure about that. I think she feels pretty comfortable.
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