Sloane Stephens practicing ahead of Australian Open 2018 Sloane Stephens practicing ahead of Australian Open 2018

Sloane Stephens pre-tournament interview

Interviews

Q. How does it feel to be here? You've had some success here in the past.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think it will be good. Excited to be here, happy to be back playing here. Yeah, I mean, first slam of the year. It's always good feelings.

Q. Tell us about the knee, how it's feeling.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Fine. All good.

Q. Can you talk about how your life has changed since you won the US Open last year.
SLOANE STEPHENS: It hasn't changed that much since I don't like to do much. So I try to keep it very simple.

But I did all the things that I was supposed to do. Now I'm kind of back to just doing what I was doing before.

Q. It has to change since you got a big check. I'm sure you're greeted differently when you go out.
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. Check is still in the bank. That hasn't changed at all. And, yeah, I mean, everyone has always been pretty nice to me when I've gone out so... Everyone is still pretty nice.

Q. Talking about your off-season a little bit, was it any different than normal? Did it feel like you had to delay things because of how deep the season went with Fed Cup and everything like that? How much preparation and on-court time have you had coming into this tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, obviously it was shorter because Fed Cup went, you know, until the second week of November. But the good thing about last year is I only played about three months. I had plenty of time to get myself together.

I think, obviously, it's tough when you have such a short period of time to kind of regroup. But kind of just got to deal with it. Everyone is kind of dealt the same hand. Just kind of got to work with it. Just try to do your best.

Q. You say you haven't changed since the US Open, but do you find it's changed towards you, people watching you more carefully, what you're doing, are more interested, more expectations?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, of course, you guys are tweeting about me more. Everyone is talking about me more. I mean, it's kind of what comes with the territory. You kind of can't put too much emphasis on it.

I think it's always a tough transition when you go from not playing tennis for 11 months to winning a Grand Slam. It's never going to be anything you expected. In terms of that, it's a little bit overwhelming.

For me, I like to just stay in my own little bubble and do my own thing. I'm going to continue to do that. When I'm able to be myself, keep my same routines, do what I like to do, I have the most fun, enjoy myself like that. It's kind of been what I'm trying to do.

Q. I'm assuming you've seen the TV news programs, the newspapers. Billie Jean King was sitting where you were sitting yesterday, and basically she said that if she was still playing today, because of the things Margaret Court has been saying, she wouldn't play on Margaret Court Arena. You're high profile, won the US Open. What would your stance be on that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, it's obviously not up to me what court I play on. I don't make the schedule.

But I think I respect what Billie Jean said. That's all there is to it.

Q. Would you prefer not to play on Margaret Court Arena?
SLOANE STEPHENS: You guys, don't ask me these questions. Like, I can't -- it's up to the tournament. It's not up to me. Whether I say yes or no, it's still not going to be up to me. Kind of have to deal with the hand you're dealt.

Q. What do you think of her comments?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I respect all of my fellow players, colleagues, their lifestyles. I don't think there should be hate towards anyone. That's that. I love all of my girls, everyone that I play with on a day-to-day basis. I support whatever it is they want to do and how they want to live.

Q. Are you not putting that much emphasis --
SLOANE STEPHENS: Disappointed with what?

Q. With your results after the US Open.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I think you have to kind of put everything in perspective, evaluate where you are.

I think personally I had a lot of things going on. I'm not going to look back on it. It's a new year, new season. I'm hoping not to get injured. There's tons of things to look forward to. I'm not going to dwell too much on that.

Q. Is it difficult to win a Grand Slam, then sort of cope with everything that comes with it after that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think so. I mean, it's not an easy thing.

Q. What, for instance?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Everything. I mean, I thought winning the US Open was, like, the hardest two weeks of my life. I'm, like, exhausted. But after the US Open, after the match, I did three and a half hours of press with my lovely friend here (referring to the WTA). I was like, This sucks, what have you done (smiling)?

I think things like that have changed. There's obviously more demand. These things are mandatory now, yes. Yeah, with that, it's been a bit challenging. But I only do the things that are mandatory, so it's easy.

Q. Without Serena, do you think you have more chances to win the tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, it's a tough field. There's a lot of great players playing this tournament. It's up for the grabs.

Q. How much is hard work and how much is somewhat luck? A lot of players, after they've won a Grand Slam, address that.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Like, what do you mean?

Q. Winning a Grand Slam, how much do you feel is all about the hard work, or is there some luck involved?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I don't know. Like, to win seven matches in a row, to say that's luck? I wouldn't say that. But, I mean, there obviously is a lot of hard work that goes into it. If it wasn't hard, then everyone could do it, right?

So I don't know how much luck it is. But I think a lot of hard work does go into it.

Q. About your first match here, obviously it's going to be a very interesting one. Shuai is a very dangerous player.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm looking forward to it. She's my favorite player on tour. Not my favorite player, but favorite person, because I love her so much. She's really a great girl. It's going to be a great match. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Given how much you fit into the three months last season, how did it feel compared to a normal season, January to November?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I was probably more tired than I was if I played a full season. I think just getting to the end and getting to the end of Fed Cup, playing the last tie, that was tough. I was there, and I was like, Whoa. I felt like I played three years straight with no off-season.

But like I said, I've reset now. Just look forward to the new year.

Q. Can I ask you if you have seen the film "Battle of the Sexes," if you did, what you thought of it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I actually watched it on the plane when I came here. I thought it was a good movie.

Q. Were there things you didn't know about what happened then?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. Is that a trick question? I don't know. No.

Q. You made a decision to go back to school and graduate. Explain what inspired you to do that.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, everyone in my family has a degree. My mom has her doctorate. I was, like, I cannot be the only person that doesn't have a degree. My brother is in college, goes to San Diego State. I have to graduate before him, because I'm better than him (smiling). I have to prove to him that I'm smarter in everything.

Yeah, and the WTA does this program with IUE. It was 75% off. Anybody who knows me knows that I love a good discount. I was like, I might as well go ahead and do it before they snatch it back. I decided to do it.

Kind of like sort of for fun because I had -- not that I had nothing else to do. I had to play tennis, obviously. Just seemed like a good idea at the time. After I got two years in, I was like, I got to finish, keep going. That was my decision to go back.

Q. You mentioned on social media you made your parents proud. Is that something they urged you to do?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, my grandparents have always been big on education, finishing school, getting your degree. They were really happy and proud of me. Pretty much did it for them. Just so I could say I graduated before my brother.

Q. How long did it take you? Also you said it was a degree in communications.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uh-huh.

Q. Did you learn anything about us?
SLOANE STEPHENS: More than I'd like to know (smiling).

But it took me, like, three and a half years, three years. But I did every summer. I never stopped. That's kind of what, like, helped me. If I would have stopped, I think it would have been trouble for me. I just kept going.

Q. Never went to class, though?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Never.

Q. Did it online?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, all online. But I did online high school, so, yeah.

Q. Given your experience after winning the US Open, how is your desire to get back there and win another Grand Slam?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, yeah, I would like to win another Grand Slam. I mean, it was tough. Obviously it's doable because I did it. I'd definitely like to do it again.