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May 25, 2015

Sloane Stephens


S. STEPHENS/V. Williams
7-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Good match today. How are you feeling with that performance? You seemed pretty calm and in the moment during the match and a little bit after. Are you soaking in that win yet?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I mean, obviously it's a tough first round of a Grand Slam. So going into it I knew I was going to have to just come out and be really solid and play my tennis. I did that today. That was good.

Q. I think that was the first time that you had actually faced Venus in a match. Were there any surprises out there, or how did it feel playing against Venus Williams?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. I didn't really know what to expect. I mean, obviously she's a great player and a great champion. I knew I was just going to have to get out there and do my best. Obviously I have never played her in a real match. So I didn't know if she was going to boss me off the court or like how that was going to go. But I knew if I just stayed in there and played my game that it would be a good match.

Q. Did you get nervous at all? Obviously you know Venus well.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Sorry, wait, did I get nervous when?

Q. Did you get nervous when you went on, did you feel good?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, I felt good. I was just ready to go out and play. I waited all day. Monfils was doing what he normally does (laughter). I was like, Okay, any day now. I think I was just ready to play.

Q. You have been working with Nick again for a while now. How has that been for you? Have you settled into a good rhythm with him and how has it helped?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I have known Nick for a really long time. It's good to have a familiar face. We work well together, so it's good to have him around.

Q. I thought that you had played Venus before.

Q. You had never played her before?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I played her in a World TeamTennis match when I was 15. But I don't think that really counts for anything.

Q. Did Nick give you any specific ideas, things to follow during the match, before the match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Just to focus on myself, my game, make sure I was executing my shots and just running every ball down and making sure I was going to get out there and do what I do best.

Q. How about that almost near run-in with the pigeon?

Q. Has that ever happened to you before? It was a pretty funny moment but also kind of an important moment because I think she had an ace there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Okay. It was a very dramatic moment, I would say. I thought the bird -- first of all, I didn't know what it was. I thought it was way closer to me than it actually was. So that was another, why I screamed so loud. And I don't know, in the moment, you know, things just happen and it was just scary and I was like, ahhh and a scream came out. And then she probably wasn't happy because she probably would have hit an ace and it was just a weird moment.

Q. Are you generally afraid of birds?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I'm afraid of anything that comes swooping down from I don't know where. So, yeah.

Q. Does your past success here mean anything to you? Do you build on that? Are there good memories from playing here in the past?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I always have good memories here, but every year it's a new tournament. I mean, you never know what's going to happen. You never know who you're going to play. You've just got to get out and do your best. Obviously today was a good win for me. I would like to keep building on that. We'll see what happens on Wednesday.

Q. You're pretty poker faced most of the time. Nick has been talking to you about trying to stay positive or having more fun in tennis. Do you feel like you're doing that? We can't tell.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, I think so (smiling). Yeah, I mean, I just -- I think most importantly you've got to get out there and have fun. You've got to love to compete and for me I have to love to run every ball down and I have to want to be there and just really be like this is everything right now. I think for me in this moment, like, I feel really good about my tennis, and I feel really good about the place that I'm in. I'm happy -- you know, I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy to be at Roland Garros 2015.

Q. What happened in your World TeamTennis match against her when you were 15? How was that? Do you remember it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think she had just won Wimbledon or something, and she had just come off a plane or something, and I coincidentally happened to beat her. It meant nothing (smiling). So, you know...

Q. Last year you lost here to Simona Halep. I'm wondering from that match, what makes her so tough, especially on clay? She's such a great baseliner in general. What lends well to her game on clay for Simona?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Where did that question even come from? I wouldn't -- I wasn't even thinking about any of that. I mean, she's obviously a great checker of the ball. She makes you play a lot of balls. On clay, you have a lot of time to run balls down and get everything back. I think for her she stays solid the whole time, and on clay that works. That might be why she's so tough.

Q. I saw Venus looking really tired, and I wondered if you saw that and that ended up allowing you to run more freely or just move more quickly?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, that's one of the things I'm working on. I'm focusing on my side of the court and not worried about what's going on over there, because it's just way too easy to get distracted by other things. So I'm just worried about my side.

Q. Do you have any particular memories of growing up watching Venus on TV?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I remember I watched -- they asked me this question last year at Wimbledon. I watched Venus play Davenport in the finals of Wimbledon. I don't know what year that was. I don't even remember what happened, but I remember seeing them on TV. But that was kind of like my earliest memory of watching her play.

Q. When you travel, do you usually stay at hotels or sometimes go out on your own and rent out like a house or an apartment or something like that?

Q. Only hotels? Why is that? Just the comfort of it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think so. Like, as I'm scared of birds, I'm scared of life, so I feel I need to be safe. So I think hotels for me work best. I have gone on vacations and stuff with family and rented a place. But, I mean, it's kind of different for me traveling and being at a tournament, I'm just used to a hotel setting. Just kind of stick with that.

Q. You reached semifinals of Strasbourg last week. You're confident now. You're playing better when you get here and you can do real well, yes?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. That would be the --

Q. But in Strasbourg, did you play well? Were you saying, yeah, here I am, hitting more consistently?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, I was -- I played well. I played some good -- I played some tough opponents and was able to play good tennis. Coming into here I feel good and I'm excited about my tennis. Things are going well. I'm excited about my new coach and things like that. So, I mean, not much more I can ask for, semis in Strasbourg and a good win today.
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