Sloan Stephens Sloan Stephens

Sloane Stephens 1R interview

Interviews

Q. Thoughts on the match and getting into the second round?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I thought I played well, solid. It's not ever easy playing someone from your own country, so I was happy to be through.

Q. How was the heat out there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It was a bit toasty. I was happy that it was shorter. Yeah, I think it was just starting to heat up as we were finishing, so I was happy to be off.

Q. Her game plan is a little different than a lot of the people you play on the tour. What kind of questions did that pose for you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's always tough. She mixes it up a lot. She can do a lot of different things most girls don't do. It's kind of like playing against a boy, I guess, that they serve and volley and do weird stuff and you're like, ‘what's happening’? So I think that's what makes her so dangerous is she does a lot of different things so well. I knew from the first point I was going to have to expect a lot of different things.

I thought I handled it well, so that was good.

Q. It wasn't quite needed today but it was still pretty hot out there. What do you make of the new heat policy here at the Open?
SLOANE STEPHENS: And what is that?

Q. So you weren't aware of the new heat policy? It's complicated to explain.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Okay. Well, can you like sum it up?

Q. So there is a scale now, rate the heat on one to five, five being extreme where the roof is closed, lower on the scale potentially you get a longer break at the end of the second set.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Like the 10-minute break rule?

Q. Yeah.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Someone was actually talking about that so I didn't understand what was going on. Someone says if it gets to four and the heat rule is in? I had no idea what they were talking about. That makes sense.

I can't comment because I have no idea what it all means or how it works. Sorry.

Q. You said patience was key today. Is that something you have had to develop more of?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, definitely. Life requires a lot of patience, so I guess in tennis I can roll over, but definitely needed it today. Like I said, playing someone who is very different than other players is never easy, and her game is really frustrating, so patience definitely came in handy today.

Q. A lot of players sharing feelings about Andy Murray after his announcement, probably women even more. Curious what your thoughts are on him and what he's meant to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I'm going to miss him. Honestly I think he's one of the nicest guys on tour. Everyone is always like, ‘he's so dry, he's not funny’. He's probably the funniest person on tour. I think he just didn't get enough credit. So unrecognized, like he didn't get enough acknowledgement.

And I think now, like, I hate when somebody dies and everyone wants to be, ‘Oh, my God, they were such a great person’. And now he's retiring and everyone's like, ‘he's such a great person’. But he was great before and nobody paid attention. It's so sad.

So I think, I mean, it's tough, but I couldn't – when he was crying, that's just a situation, like, you cannot see a grown man, I'm like, Oh, no. It's so sad, like, it's just – I don't know. Now I'm going to cry. It's just too much.

I'm going to miss him. I think he's been great for the game, especially for the women. He's been so supportive. Like I said before, Judy raised a good, young lad. He's been quite the guy.

Q. Would you say a few words about your next-round matchup against Babos. You used to be good friends, played together in juniors, doubles.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I didn't know that's who I played, so thank you for that. We used to play a lot, we won three doubles slams together. That's good.

I think it will be another good match. Obviously second round of a slam, tough match again. Just going to go out and compete and have a good game plan and try to execute the best I can.

Q. Just back to that Andy question, do you have any particular favourite Andy anecdote or anything?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'd say I posted a lot of videos of, like, my coaches sleeping and random people sleeping, and he would always message me and be like, ‘it must be your great conversation’. like literally every time. I'm, like, this guy. I could always count on him to be, ‘it must be your conversation’ Yeah, that's my favourite thing about him.

Q. In terms of Andy, you said he's meant a lot to women in particular. Seems to be almost sort of unique in this era of ATP and WTA going different directions and ATP starting their own competitions like the ATP cup and leaving the women behind. Curious if you think more tennis could follow Andy's example, especially if he's unique in this climate?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think he's – yeah, I think it's very unique that he has that sense of awareness. Not everyone has that. I think we have been lucky to have someone support the women's game like he has. We would hope to get more support in the future. I hope people do follow in his footsteps.

Yeah, I mean, we're going to miss him a lot.

Q. Do you think the tour could learn from him overall?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Definitely.

Q. Obviously you're young and healthy right now but you had a serious injury, and I know Maria was in here before talking about she thinks the next chapter when she's done playing will be exciting. Wondering, have you thought about what you might want to pursue after tennis, or is that something too far away?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I think about what I am going to do after tennis all the time. I think it's better to plan now and kind of get a head start before you get there than get there and be, Oh, my god, what do I do? I think she's right. She's done so many amazing things in her career. She has some great companies, great partners. I think she's done a really good job with that and I think people can look up to that and she's hit the ground running, but while she was still playing. She didn't wait until she stopped to get going, which is kind of cool.

Q. What are you thinking of about doing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Mind your business, Girl. You've got to wait. Oh, my goodness. I can't tell you now (laughter).

Q. What, if anything, does it mean to you to have won a match here for the first time in a few years?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Very good. I'm like so excited. It's been a tough couple of years here, but I do love this tournament. It's always tough the first slam of the year kind of getting going. I had a good result here once before, so I think I'm going to try to do it again.

Obviously it's a work in progress, but just happy to get through that first match, especially against someone from home.

Q. When you lost the first eight points, anything going through your head? Don't panic? It's a match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I was, like, Here we go again. Get it together. Yeah, it's just – that's happened to me before, so I wasn't too panicked.

Q. You just gave a nice shoutout to Judy Murray. Have you met her? What are your thoughts about her impact both on Andy and on the game and her special place?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I honestly love Judy. In Beijing I went – I think I went to one of her clinics, because I have a foundation, and her clinics, it's Miss-Hits, she does a lot of fun games and fun stuff. Sometimes when it rains at the schools, my foundation has after-schools, they go into the auditorium.

I was like her program would be perfect to bring the kids inside and she has stuff where you don't need tennis balls and nets and racquets and all that stuff. And when I saw her in Beijing, I legit fell in love with her. I was like I wish this was my second mom. Then when I saw her in Singapore again, my mom went, and then we both fell in love with her. The whole Murray family, I just adopted them.

Q. Strong lady?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I love her. She's so great. It's not easy raising a kid that plays tennis, let alone a professional, and for her to have two kids that are just over the top, I think that's pretty cool.

Q. What is your coaching situation these days?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I knew you were going to be the one to ask. I was waiting for it. Coaching situation is the same. Everyone is still around. Like I said, Kamau and I needed a break, we are in a great space. I surrounded myself with people here that I have known for a long time that I'm comfortable with. I wanted to be happy and hopefully that would allow me to play better.

So, yeah, the coaching situation is exactly the same as it was before. You just don't see Kamau physically here.

Q. Do you have a planned resumption date with him?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Nope.

Q. So is Sly Black here with you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Did you watch the match?

Q. Sorry, I was watching another one I had to watch. Sorry.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Did anyone watch the match? He's here then because I know somebody knows. Okay. Sly's here.

Q. This may seem random, but one of the opponents you could have played in the second round is Ons Jabeur, you played her in Moscow. Curious to hear what your thoughts are on her game?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, she's a tough player. We are the same age. I played her in junior French Open like way, way long, I don't know, it wasn't that long ago but it feels like forever ago. She's always been a good player. She's like super tricky. She's kind of like Taylor. She doesn't serve and volley – she does actually kind of serve and volley. But she hits a lot of slices, dropshots. She's super crafty, so she's one of those girls that you have to be super ready from the very beginning.

When I lost to her in Moscow she had a good result there, she made the finals, so that's awesome.

Was she the first like – you know what I'm trying to say. Yeah, exactly. So I think that's really cool. She's honestly a really sweet girl. I'm happy for her, and she is a tricky player. She's not easy to play in the first round of a tournament.

Q. You knew her in juniors. Was she one of the players in juniors that you thought would do really, really well? Because her trajectory was slower than others.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think just with that game, it's kind of hard to go – it's like someone like Bencic, like she hits through people and not as crafty, she has one game plan. There are people like that. I think Ons, it's just harder when you have a game like that because you always have to be on. Your dropshots have to be on, your lobs have to be on, everything, it's more has to be perfect in a way.

So I think that's why, but I think, yeah, she's a good player. She's had some really good results, so, I mean, only the future will tell.