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)
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).