Sloane Stephens 15-01-18 press conference (1R)
Sloane Stephens positively talks about her tennis career and her round one loss to Shuai Zhang in the Australian Open 2018.
Q. After winning the first set in dominant fashion, how would you explain what happened in the second two sets?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I came out a little bit slow in the first couple games of the second, but I got it back. I think she raised her level and she played a good match, as well.
It's just unfortunate.
Q. A letdown after losing a tiebreak, when you obviously could have won the match if you'd have won the tiebreak.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, that's obviously always tough, but, I mean, I tried to recoup the best I could, but playing an opponent and she just played well. There's really nothing you could do about that. I tried my best, but...
Q. I know you obviously had a difficult start to the year, had to withdraw from Brisbane because of the knee and then Sydney last week. How did you sort of feel coming into the tournament? How ready did you feel to compete here?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I did everything that I could to be ready for Sydney last week and for here. It's just unfortunate, but it's definitely only the beginning of the season, first two tournaments. Not going to get too down. Just going to stay positive and keep working to get back in the best shape and best place possible to do well for my next tournaments.
Q. What's going wrong from your point of view? Do you just feel you haven't had enough preparation time before coming into Australia, or...
SLOANE STEPHENS: Nothing's going wrong. Just the first two tournaments of the year. And it happens. I'm sure it's happened to other players, as well.
As I said, not going to get too down. There's many more tournaments to play, and a long season ahead.
Q. Do you see the end of last year and beginning of this as two totally separate things in terms of the results?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, completely different.
Q. Zhang Shuai talked about how she likes you. Is she really popular in the locker room?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What did you say? I didn't hear you.
Q. Zhang Shuai, she talks about how much she likes you as a player and a person.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I love her. She's great. Super nice. I have known her for a long time, obviously. I think everyone loves her. I don't think one person doesn't like her.
Q. After you won the US Open, you gave us the most hilarious press conference of the last months.
SLOANE STEPHENS: These are so boring, I know, right? The questions are so serious. Yeah, it's just terrible. We should get back to that. You guys are only happy when I'm winning. When I'm losing you have the most depressing questions. I blame you guys, honestly (smiling).
Q. I'm glad you're coming out. So is it very annoying to come now to this press conferences after eight defeats in a row and everybody asking you...
SLOANE STEPHENS: Thanks for putting the emphasis on the eight defeats. That's really cool.
No, it's not bad. We have to do it, like, every match, so it's not bad. Even though I lost, I'm not too sad. Oh, my God, no. Everything is good. Relax, everybody. It will be okay. Don't worry. We will get back to having fun soon. Just give me a little bit to regroup and we will be okay.
Q. Is it still because you have some money left in the bank?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, probably. I haven't touched any of that money, so every time I open my bank account it's still there. I think I'm in a really good place.
Q. How would you explain the tough times since the Open?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I wouldn't call them tough times. Everyone is so depressed and so down. It happens to everyone. Like, eventually I'll start, what I told you in D.C., I'm going to beat someone eventually. I will have the best Instagram picture when I finally snap this losing streak.
Yeah, it's not tough times. It's just a learning experience. You know, it's a long journey. Like I said, this year, it's a new year, only the second tournament of the year. It's a long road and long season ahead.
Q. You said you want to get back in shape. Do you feel like you're not in shape at the moment?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I just felt like the offseason was really short. Obviously going and playing Fed Cup you didn't get as much time as you normally do. I think that's taken a toll.
Like I said, it's a new season. Luckily there is time to get in the best shape and, you know, make sure that I'm ready for my next tournaments. I think I just am kind of working to get ready, match ready and everything.
Q. A loss is not a completely new experience. In the past, you had moments when things were not going great and still you were able to come back.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.
Tennis is definitely a roller coaster. But I have learned to just not panic. It will be okay. There's always going to be times when it's really tough and there will be times when you're on an extreme high. I think for me now it's not that great, but it's nothing to panic about, guys.
Q. Winning a slam is such a huge happening. Since winning the Open, what's been the most fun thing that you have experienced aside from cashing your check?
SLOANE STEPHENS: The most fun experience?
Q. Or interesting.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Hmm.
Q. New boyfriend?
SLOANE STEPHENS: My boyfriend?
Q. A new boyfriend?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, new boyfriend? No, not a new one. Shit.
I think maybe -- like, nothing interesting has happened to me. Like, I'm not even kidding. Like, not one thing. Like, I just -- I'm going to, like -- oh, I graduated from college. But that's not, like, interesting. That was just, like...
Q. For a tennis player.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I guess maybe for a tennis player. That was fun. I went to my graduation and stuff, and I was the only person there, but...
Q. Is it East Indiana or Indiana?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, my diploma is from Indiana University. But the online program of it that the WTA does is like Indiana University East. So...
Q. Do you believe in karma?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Totally.
Q. Does this become a payback for what happened last year, this period in your career after all that happened before the US Open and being able to win that? Do you think this is a change in karma?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Wait, what?
Q. Your karma has changed a bit in terms of what's happened in the last three or four months on court since the US Open.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, the way I kind of see it is if -- I have a long, like, explanation about karma, but I won't get into that. We don't have time.
But I don't -- no, I honestly just think that a lot of amazing things have happened in my life off the court since the US Open and it's definitely overwhelming and a lot of extra energy you have to put into other things, and it's tough balancing. I think now I'm just trying to find the right balance, like I said before.
It's definitely not karma, because, like, I'm in a really good place. Just because my tennis isn't showing it right now, like, that's my priority and I know that after here I'm going to do my best to just get back to where I was. And like I said, I'm not going to panic because I know I can get back to where I was. I don't think it's karma.
I think it's just preparation and doing the best to get back to where I was.
Q. What did you think life would be like after winning a slam?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I hoped that nothing would happen. I hoped I wouldn't have to do any work, I wouldn't have to go anywhere. Like, I thought it was going to be basic. But, boy, was I wrong.
Yeah, it's been quite the experience, but I think that, you know, when you do something great like that, a lot is expected of you. Whether I wanted that or not, that's just kind of -- that's what comes with the territory. I don't regret it, I don't whatever.
I just think -- like I said, there is roller coasters and you go through ups and downs in periods of your career that things like this happen. But winning the US Open was the best thing that happened in my tennis career.
I'm not going to dwell on it just because I lost eight matches in a row and say, Oh, winning the US Open, it's haunting me now, like -- no. It's the best thing that ever happened to me, and probably until I win another tournament or something else happens, it's going to continue to be. I'm just going to build off it and find the right balance and make sure can I get back to playing the way I was.
Q. You have had an incredible career. I'd like you to talk about karma. What is your thought about the concept?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Now you want to talk about it? It's really long.
I just feel if you're doing the right things in life, you will be rewarded, basically, short summary. That's plain and simple. There is nothing more, nothing less.
Like, if you're being a good person, you're kind to other people, you're, you know, whatever, like, good things will happen to you. Not only on the tennis court but just in life in general, you'll be rewarded.
Q. It seems that most players who win their first Grand Slam, they have a period of adjustment where it's quite difficult to adjust to the new things that come after that, greater focus, distractions, demands. Garbiñe talked about it last week, said she didn't really adjust well the first time but the second time was much better. She was prepared. Do you think that's kind of what you have gone through the last few months, just that adjustment period of being in a different status in the sport?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I think my adjustment period was not playing tennis for 11 months, and then winning a Grand Slam. I think that was my adjustment period.
I had not played tennis in a long time, so I hadn't been in a press conference or press room. And press in Toronto and Cincinnati was, like, all of three. People, and I had really nothing to worry about. And then I think after not playing for so long and then winning, that's what got me. Not so much that I wasn't ready to win a Grand Slam, whatever, I just hadn't been playing.
So not playing and not having to do anything and enjoying my life, as they say, living your best life, that's what I was doing, to winning a slam and then having to deal with all of that and trying to continue to live my best life. I think that's what got me.
Q. Luckily you were not born when Pete Sampras won the US Open his first US Open. Then afterwards he was using an expression, American expression, I don't know to repeat properly, which is I got the monkey on my back or my shoulders -- off my back. Because after winning your first slam, there was a lot of pressure, a lot of, I mean, difficulties and things like that. Do you feel a little bit like that? If you understood what I said about Sampras or not.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think personally for me in my career I have been one of those players that I have had a lot of doubters and people saying that I'm never going to win a tournament, never win a Grand Slam, I don't have the heart, I don't have the fight, I don't have the championship mentality, whatever, you know, people have said.
I think once I won my first tournament, I was like, oh, my God, this is so much fun, so cool. Then I won a couple more, and I was, like, wow, this is good. I won a car, all these great things.
I think winning the US Open, like, it's just never going to be enough for certain people and people who talk about and you guys who write it about it and whatever, it's never going to be enough. But as long as it's enough for me and I feel good that I have done what I can to progress and do whatever I can for my personal career, that's okay.
You know, before I would get so upset about what people would write and say things about me on TV and blah, blah, blah, and now it's, like, yeah, who cares? Like, I won a Grand Slam, I'm going through a tough time. Who cares? No one cares about my life. I'm just having fun. I'm enjoying it. Like, I don't think -- there's too much emphasis on the bad things that happen after something really great happens. That kind of sucks, but it is what it is.
Q. What's next for you after this? Immediate plans after this tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. Well, you see, I didn't plan on losing in the first round. I didn't really think about, you know, what I'm going to do after this, but that's a good question. I'm playing doubles, though. You guys should all come to my doubles match. I know you guys are super eager to see that. Other than that, just doubles, and that's it.
Q. Where are you playing after this, though, singles?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Acapulco.
Q. You said karma is doing the right things and you'll be rewarded if you do, right?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, if you do the right things.
Q. Are you doing the right things, you think, right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I believe so. Like what do you mean by that? Just in life?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, yeah, of course. I always try to be the best person I can, the best version of me. Like I said, you'll be rewarded. Tough times don't last. Like I said before, when I had foot surgery in January, I thought it was, like, the worst thing ever. It was like I was being punished for whatever reason. But I really wasn't being punished. It was just, I was being set up for something greater. That's kind of how you've got to look at it.
Q. Could you talk about the foundation, the program with shoes, could you talk about that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, my foundation and the shoes things are two different things. Which one do you want?
Q. Explain. Both, please.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, my foundation is in Compton and we do after-school tennis and recess tennis and Saturday tennis, whatever.
Q. What's it called?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Sloane Stephens Foundation. But it's called Love, Love Compton. Because it's in the school district. So we have after-school tennis in 23 different schools, elementary schools.
Yeah. That's that. Soles4Souls is a company I partnered with to give shoes -- we only do it in the U.S., so lightly worn shoes, you can give them and then they repurpose them and give them to people who are in need.