Lawn Tennis
Regions Morgan Keegan Championships And Cellular South Cup - Memphis 2007 Regions Morgan Keegan Ch'ships
And The Cellular South Cup

Memphis, Tennessee
February 16-25, 2007
Regions Morgan Keegan Championships And Cellular South Cup - Memphis 2007
Venus Williams Pre-Tournament Press Interview
Reporting From Onsite In Memphis, Tennessee
By Tripp Mateschitz, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Monday, February 19, 2007 1:30am CST USA
(Please do not copy/paste more than a few lines of this interview on other websites. Transcribed by lawntennismag.com.)
Venus Williams Memphis 2007 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the 
Cellular South Cup
MEMPHIS--(lawntennismag.com) Venus Williams: Yea, actually I'm really, really excited. You know before I came to Memphis I was thinking 'I'm going to play a tournament. I'm back in the swing of things.' So it's been awhile and I'm excited and I just really want to do well.

Question(Ms. Black Memphis who introduced Venus): Have you visited any of the sites here in Memphis?
Venus Williams: Um, mostly I've visited the practice center. I haven't gone out as much as I should have. But...like I said I'm so excited to be in tennis again. I just want to be like Serena.

Question(Ms. Black Memphis who is wearing tiara): Well I just want to wish you the best of luck in the tournament, and I'm going to turn it over to the rest of the reporters because I'm sure they have a lot of questions to ask you.
Venus Williams: Thank you very much.

Question(Moderator): We'll take questions for Venus. First question for Venus please.
Question: Venus as you get back started into this, how much of a difference will there be from practicing versus having getting the competitive edge? How much difference do you see?
Venus Williams: There's always a difference in practice than in a match. Actually I usually play better than I practice. But of course in a match there's different kinds of pressures that really count. But I've had experience under pressure so I'm definitely gonna be counting on that in my experience here in Memphis.

Question: Beyond just a competitive edge what other things are you testing besides the injury? Is there a stamina question?
Venus Williams: Well, um, I've been working fairly hard, but obviously with match play your stamina definitely gets better. And playing a few matches in a row; I mean the way your body is stretched during a match, it's nothing like practice: it's the adreniline, the extra effort you give. It's definitely not the same. So it definitely will be a test, but it's a test I've passed before and it's one where I'm confident I can do well again.

Question: Venus you said you wanted to be like Serena. How much of an inspiration was that recent win of hers?
Venus Williams: Oh, It was so exciting. It really was. I lived and died with every moment. (laughs) I was her biggest fan and I just couldn't wait for more Serena Williams coverage (laughs) especially after the final, I was just like...they were doing all kinds of interviews with her and I was just hanging on every word (laughs) so yea it was definitely a win for Williams.

Question: Didn't she text message you after you won Wimbledon?
Venus Williams: Yea. she...

Question: (Interrupts) What did you do for her?
Venus Williams: Oh my, I definitely kept trying to call her, but I couldn't find her and I figured she was doing what I'm doing now, so I had to wait until the next day. You know with the time difference so weird; it was at night where I was, and still the day where she was. So of course I got the whole update the next day.

Question: What have you learned about yourself during this layoff?
Venus Williams: (Long Sigh) Many, many things. I've learned more than anything in my life is that I have so much more to learn. So I'm definitely a student of life and experience. But in general I think I've learned that I just really enjoy being happy and that's what's best.

Question: Venus, have you tried any new rackets since your last match in September?
Venus Williams: Yea, I'm trying a new racket; very similar to Serena's: Yes, it's the Wilson K Factor.

Question: Other than the time and the coverage, it there anything that would make you want to start now? Are you building towards any particular tournament?
Venus Williams: I just really wanted to come. I've had to withdraw from some events already this year including the Australian where Serena is the champ and um (laughs)... really proud older sister, but (laughs) I just really wanted to come, and if I don't play here, it's like I have to wait yet another month (stresses "month") to play and I was really eager with every week. Every week made a difference, so this week was the biggest difference.

Question: Were you ever nervous you wouldn't be ready for this event?
Venus Williams: Absolutely. (laughs) Yea and I...It was tough. It was definitely tough. There's always a decision week by week so... Just last week I couldn't make the last tournament, but this week just makes a huge difference.

Question: What proved to you that you would be ready for this?
Venus Williams: Ah (stresses "ah"). I just being able to conquer my injury. Conquer it. (laughs)

Question: Why Memphis and not Dubai?
Venus Williams: Well because...Mac (Winker, owner of tournament who is standing at the side of press room) got me here, right? (laughs, looks at Mac) That's why, (laughs) yes that's why.
Question(Mac Winker): Thank you Venus. Well I'm saying we're very excited you are here...
Venus Williams: Thank you very much.
Question(Mac Winker): And I think the National Civil Rights Museum (located in downtown Memphis) had a piece in that and Cellular South... very key.

Question: Can you talk about that a little bit and how that factored into your decision to come here? The Civil Rights Museum...
Venus Williams: Well I think that the Civil Rights Museum is obviously very wonderful here in Memphis, and I think also that it's definitely something that as far as just me playing tennis; as an African-American playing tennis, also I was able to make a difference in my sport and hopefully in people's lives. So for me the Civil Rights Museum was definitely apart of my decision to come here. And I think that in this country also, it's been you know a big part of our history: civil rights.

Question: How's the timing? I mean obviously you didn't know that you would be here until a little while beforehand. Is it good timing you think as far as this tournament, the way it fell?
Venus Williams: Yea. Definitely, I was talking to my agent and I said, 'Do you think they think I'm not going to play?' And I'm always giving him an update like, you know, 'I think I'm doing better this week. I don't know if I'm gonna make it but oh gosh' so... (laughs) I was like (baby voice) 'I really want to do it.' So I'm always giving him the update and I think he gives you the update... (looks at Mac)
Question(Mac): Yes.
Venus Williams: And you just play it by ear. It's hard; you can't rush. I've rushed before and it doesn't work so hopefully it's just the right timing.

Question: You're only 26 years old; yet you look at the world top ten right now. Nine of the ten top players are younger than you. Do you feel old at 26?
Venus Williams: No, (carefree voice) I feel like my whole life it ahead of me. I'm looking forward to the future as I always do. There's so many wonderful things in the future and so many things I'd worked towards and so many goals to meet on and off the court. So life is good.

Question: More than tennis?
Venus Williams: Definitely more than tennis, but now tennis is a wonderful, wonderful option.

Question: Venus, at the end of 2007, you want to be able to say you accomplished what?
Venus Williams: Well, I want to say in 2007 I had a great year with no injury. And if I have a great year with no injury, that means I'll be able to train. And if I'm able to train, that means I'll be able to definitely win a lot of matches. So I'll definitely count my blessings if I can stay healthy.

Question: In December weren't you hitting with Serena a lot to get her prepared for the Australian Open?
Venus Williams: Yea, I would come out on the court, but I would come out 30 or 45 minutes... sometimes an hour...and...then not even everyday.

Question: Was she playing as hard there? (Have you hit recently) and did she give you a good preparation for this tournament?
Venus Williams: Ah, we haven't hit since then to be honest. She's been away. Then when she came back, we had different schedules so we actually haven't hit. So I haven't had the chance to hit with the championship form yet, but... you know hopefully I'll be in championship form this week granted.

Question: You mentioned how it's kind of on again, off again as far as the wrist and everything. Is it 100% right now? Or is it a question of just when you get out there?
Venus Williams: Um (laughs) Is this a trick question? (laughs) I feel good. I feel very good. For example I had no chance to play the Australian Open. Zero, and just the fact that I have the opportunity to be here is definitely saying a lot for me from where I was so.... Definitely I'm here because I can be.

Question: You have your dad here with you. Why your dad instead of your mom?
Venus Williams: Well. I wanted my dad to come so that's why basically. (laughs) And he always comes (laughs).


Question: Venus did you take any design classes or any classes at all in the fall?
Venus Williams: No I didn't in the fall because typing was too much on my wrist (motions with her wrists). I couldn't do these things so I'm actually taking classes right now, because I realized that during the first couple of months of the year I'm going to be at home, training, you know, twiddling my thumbs (laughs) so I'll finish in March with these that I'm doing now.

Question: Is there anything that you want to say to the people of Memphis?
Venus Williams: Oh, I would just say definately just come out and watch the tennis because, you know, it's my first time coming back. I think I have a few things that I've been working on that hopefully you'll enjoy seeing.

Question: Want to give away any of those?
Venus Williams: No not at all. (laughs) (Playful voice) Stay tuned. Yea.

Question(Moderator): Do we have any more questions?
Question: Venus how close or how far are you from where you want to be (unheard)?
Venus Williams: I actually feel like I'm pretty close to where I want to be to be honest.

Question: On a scale from 1 to 10 what would you say?
Venus Williams: Um, (laughs) I would say definitely right in the middle of a 5. You know there's always room for improvement. And I think my dad probably would give me a higher number, but (laughs) he's the coach. He's here to build me up (laughs). But I think that the coming weeks... Here, play some matches... definitely try to play as best I can in the coming weeks and just be building.

Question: Can this turn out to be a blessing in disguise? A little break from the action?
Venus Williams: I don't know. (laughs) I always want to be in the action so... I guess you get and give what you can.. and go where I can.

Question: Did you watch a lot of tennis in the fall?
Venus Williams: Yea, I always watch a lot of tennis. I always watch the Tennis Channel. It's the only channel I watch almost. I just keep it on.

Question: What's your grading of these younger players coming up right now?
Venus Williams: Everyone's so good. You know, everyone's so good and so talented and so athletic that basically tennis is a wonderful sport where you can make your own destiny. Anyone who works hard enough can be a great champion.

Question: You think Shenay (Perry) or Jemea (Jackson) have the game to be semifinals, finals at grand slams type players?
Venus Williams: I've actually never seen Shenay play. Jemea I've seen her play a couple of times, and I think that she does everything well. She really does, and I think that if she just keeps improving, I think she can... the sky's the limit.

Question: Do you feel like on Saturday you're going to be in the championship match?
Venus Williams: That would be so exciting, but for me right now it's definitely about Monday. I'm definitely thinking about it a lot, with good feelings obviously; very good feelings.

Question: Talk about first round draw, Morigami.
Venus Williams: I've never played her before. I think she hits two hands off both sides. So she's probably going to be playing agressively, and she probably plays fast. I've never really seen her play a lot. So whatever comes, you know I'd like to have an answer for it.

Question(Moderator): Last question please.
Question: Fed Cup. You and Serena both said you want to play Fed Cup.
Venus Williams: Yes, we want to play mostly because we love Zina (Garrison, the USA Fed Cup coach) and that's why. For me, that's my reasoning behind playing Fed Cup because I really love Zina. She's a wonderful person. I just really love playing for her and I 'd live to win for her. So that's why I'm there. When I'm healthy I definitely try to play. I would have played last year too, but it wasn't really good times for me. So this year hopefully will be better times.


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