S. STEPHENS/M. Johansson 6‑3, 6‑2

SLOANE STEPHENS

 

 

Q.  Looked like you played her many years before?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Sorta, yeah.  It was fun.  It was nice.  I thought the crowd was really going to be against me, but they were pretty equal.

So it was nice.  I played well, so that was good.

 

Q.  Looks like you’re so mature already after all those years.  You’re only 19.  Looks like you have been here before many times.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I have, actually.

 

Q.  But not on center court.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Maybe not on that court, but I have been here a few times.  I don’t know.  Every court is the same.

So doesn’t matter how many people are out there.  I played on a court where there was tons of people and everything was packed, and there’s different feelings on every court.  But every court is still the same.  I think I kinda just blocked it out, and that helped.

 

Q.  On the same theme, you seem pretty composed, playing a French player, Chatrier, it’s a big court, been in the third round before.  How were you sort of able to manage your emotions and nerves?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think I’ve done a lot better that ‑‑ you know, just staying calm throughout whole match.  I think that helps me when I get to the end of the match where like I’m like, okay, I’ve got to do it now or never.

So I definitely have practiced that and worked on staying calm.  That’s helped me a lot.

 

Q.  How?  With a sports psychologist?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  My grandparents gave me a necklace, and it says “In calmness and confidence.”  Every time I’m like getting really tight or I’m like, oh, my God, what am I doing, I’m just like, okay, relax, you can do that.  I think of that and it helps me.

 

Q.  Obviously you had some problems serving out both sets.  Was that nerves?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I’d say.  Yeah.  It wasn’t my best serving, those games.  But I managed somehow.

It wasn’t the best, but it worked out.

 

Q.  You might end up being one of the highest‑profile Americans in tennis.  People back home are now going to wake up and pay attention.  Are you ready to become more than just Sloane Stephens, up‑and‑coming player, to Sloane Stephens, one of the big faces of American tennis?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I’m excited, because now I’m going to have more Twitter followers.  That’s good.  I’m excited.  I mean, it’s always good to be noticed and recognized, you know, for sport.  I think being up there with Venus and Serena, I mean, that’s awesome.  You know, I’m excited.

I’m happy that I’m improving and getting better and that I can be there.

 

Q.  The start of the year wasn’t that great.  Even start of the clay court season not that great.  The last four or five weeks you have picked it up pretty well.  Was it a talk with Roger or something you did yourself?  Talk about that a little bit.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, if you only knew what was happening three and a half weeks ago, I mean, it was ‑‑ the only way to go was up.

So my mom came and my aunt came, and that helped me a lot, because I don’t know what was going on.  My head was ‑‑ I was having brain farts and things weren’t going my way.

I was being 19, and I think now I am being 29.  So I think my mom and aunt definitely helped me through the last couple of weeks.

You know, I’m very grateful for that.

 

Q.  How much of an inspiration have Serena and Venus been for you?  Do you think that it’s inspiration for more black girls to play tennis and get up there?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, they definitely inspire.  I mean, not only ‑‑ race has nothing to do with it, but they inspire everyone to play tennis.  They’re two of the best tennis players to ever play the game.

I think they’re a really great inspiration to everyone.  I like them.  I think they’re funny.

 

Q.  They’re out, and you’re still in.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, that’s kinda weird, actually.  I guess it’s kind of a good thing, but not really.  That’s okay.

 

Q.  Can you tell us something about your setup with the USTA program?  I mean, you must seem very happy with that.  You’re based in Florida?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don’t work with the USTA.  I have a private coach.  Yeah.

 

Q.  Roger Smith?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yes.

 

Q.  Did you work with the USTA in the past?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yes, previously.

 

Q.  But you’re not planning on going with them?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, staying the same.

 

Q.  We’re all crunching numbers with every round about the Olympic eligibility.  On your mind?  Motivation?  Or just whatever it is, it is?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Not thinking about it.  Too stressful.  Everyone ‑‑ I didn’t even know, like, about it until people started writing me on Twitter.  They’re like, If you win one more round, you’ll have this many points.  So I decided:  Whatever.  If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  I’m just kind of like:  We’ll see June 11th.

 

Q.  You said that a few weeks ago you were being 19.  What does that mean?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I was having brain farts and I was kind of ‑‑ I don’t know.  I was ‑‑ I don’t know what I was doing.  I stopped drinking soda.  I think that helped me.  I haven’t eaten as much candy.

So I think that’s helped me a lot.  I’m moving in the right direction, I think.  That’s good.

 

Q.  How does it compare playing on Chatrier before a French crowd compare to in New York on Ashe?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Nothing will compare to Arthur Ashe at nighttime in front of Americans, in front of your home ‑‑ I mean, nothing is better than that, because I’m American.

So, I mean, for her, that was probably awesome and, you know, whatever.  And it was awesome for me, too.  Nothing will ever compare to playing on Arthur Ashe at night.

 

Q.  How do you describe your own game when you’re playing well, and how will that game match up against a player like Stosur or Petrova?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Aggressive baseliner, looking to a lot of forehands coming in.  I’m not sure.  Whoever wins that match wins, and it will be good.  I’m excited.  I love playing here.  I have been playing well, so it should be a match, whoever I play.

 

Q.  Has there been a point any time during the last year when you’ve played a veteran player where you thought:  That player is too much to me, I’m not at that level yet?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  No, I don’t think so.  (Smiling).

 

Q.  You mentioned Twitter.  You’re active and entertaining on there.  Is there any sort of perils to being on Twitter?  Do you get some interesting comments?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I get some very interesting comments.  I really don’t know like what somebody people think when they write stuff to me.  I’m like, What?  What are you saying?

For me it’s fun, because like I mostly talk to my friends.  A lot of people write me, and I always see what people write.  I read every message, but I don’t respond for some reason.  It’s just like I feel like if I respond to one person, then I have to respond to everyone.  That’s when people start writing you, like, Why aren’t you responding to me?  Do you hate me?  I’m like, God.

So I read all the messages and I get crazy stuff, but I think that’s what it’s for.  It’s just for fun, really.

 

Q.  How much soda did you used to drink?  You said you stopped drinking it.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Oh, my God.  I was drinking like Fantas like twice a day.  Because the club that I was practicing at, for lunch I would have like a soda.  And then like dinner was really late, so I would go and get one before I left, and then I’d drink another one.  And I was like, whoa, that’s a lot of sugar.  So I stopped doing that.

 

Q.  Orange Fanta?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yes (smiling).

 

Q.  What goal did you come here with?  Have you changed your sights?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Goal?  My goal, coming to the French Open, you mean?  My goal coming into the French Open was just play hard.  I mean, there’s nothing else you can do.  Play hard, fight hard, you know, run every ball down.  Winning or losing, really, it didn’t matter because I started playing well and I started getting my confidence back and I was happy with what I was doing.

So I was just like, there’s ‑‑ not going to put any pressure on myself.  I always feel really comfortable here, and I really like it here.  So I was kinda like, I know if I just do the right things that good things will happen.

 

Q.  I’m just wondering if, as you’ve won some matches, your expectations or your goal has changed?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, it’s always fight hard to the end.  If I lose, we’re both going home tired and sweaty and disgusting.  That’s the only way to be, really.

 

Q.  You said “to the end.”  At the end of this year, what would be a successful year for Sloane Stephens?  And, secondly, where are we on the first‑class issue?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Oh, yeah, definitely going home first class.  Definitely.  Definitely.

 

Q.  For mom and the aunt, also?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don’t know what they’re going to be doing, but I know where I’m going to be.  (Laughter.)  I know where I’m going to be.

Till the end of the year a successful goal would be definitely be playing.  If I can play the whole year without getting injured and like having to skip tournaments and this and that, I would be very happy, very, very happy.

Goal?  Ranking doesn’t even matter, because, I mean, as you play and you get confidence, you win, and when you’re winning, you’re winning.  Everyone loves a winner.

 

Q.  Life hasn’t been easy for you in the past.  How did you keep your positive attitude and are you maybe also a role model for other teenagers to always stay positive and smile?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Definitely family has helped me through a lot.  I have had a really good support system.

My mom and my aunt and my uncles, my grandparents, everyone has been ‑‑ always been there for me and my brother.

I think that we are, even when we were going through things when we were younger, we always had a pretty good attitude.  My mom always told us, you know, things will get better.  Obviously things are better.

So that’s kinda the way it worked out.

 

Q.  I read that you were planning to buy yourself a car after the US Open last year.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Oh, my God.  Can someone please talk to my mom?  She’s over there.  She still hasn’t got me a car.

 

Q.  She wanted to buy a truck and you wanted something smaller.  What did you buy in the end?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I never got a car is what happened.  That was the end of ‑‑ yeah.  It was her fault, really.

 

Q.  Not planning to buy one?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, because then now I realized that cars ‑‑ okay.  If you see the gas prices, like they’re ridiculous.  Okay?

 

Q.  You should come to Holland.

SLOANE STEPHENS:  I know.  I was like, okay, so you have to do that, so you have to do the gas and everything.  Then you have to take it to get like serviced or whatever and oil changes and this and that.

And then my mom has a big car, and me and my brother go a lot of places when I’m home.  So we’ll drive like a full tank in a couple of days.

One day we went, and it was $100 to fill up the car.  I was like, You have got to be joking me.  This is insane.

So after that, I was like, it’s okay.  I don’t want a car.  That’s fine.

She waited too long, and then I found out all the stuff about the car, and I was like, forget it.

 

Q.  A lot of people say obviously the Americans don’t like to play on clay.  I know you have said that you like it.  But do you think it’s important to actually come here and play?  Because in the past there was like the Spanish stayed away from the grass, and some of the Americans stayed away from the clay.  But to challenge yourself and to try to become a proficient on it?

SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  All you have to ‑‑ you have to play on all surfaces.  You have to fight even if you’re not comfortable on that surface.

I’m really happy that the younger girls are playing junior French, because, I mean, I think when you get here, you love it.  You just fall in love.  There’s nothing that you don’t like about the clay.  It’s impossible not to like it.  I don’t know why people don’t like it.

So I think as people kinda have a more open mind about it, they’ll begin to enjoy it more, I think.  So I’m happy that the younger kids are playing on it.

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