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August 16, 2017

Sloane Stephens

Cincinnati, Ohio

S. STEPHENS/P. Kvitova

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How good does it feel to be able to play this level consistently over the course of the last 10 days?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, it feels good. Obviously not having played in a long time and coming back, I think my main thing was just that I needed a lot of matches and needed to play a lot. And, like, in D.C. I said, I'm going to beat somebody eventually.

It's nice that I got, like, some good, solid back to-back wins last week, and then this week to do the same is super awesome.

Hopefully just keep going and playing well and feeling the ball great. That's all I can really, for a comeback like this, and to have no expectations and to have good results early, like, it's definitely a confidence booster.

Q. Does it feel different than, like, you know, when you were playing before the injury and when you were playing well at this level? Does it feel different now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know if it feels different. I'd say it's more like a new outlook, like, I'm so excited to be on the court and just, like, Oh, my God, every time I go on the court, this is so much fun.

Whereas last time I'm, like, this is probably six months into the year, you're like, I'm tired.

No, I'm just -- every time I step on the court, I'm just super happy to be there and happy to be playing well. Yeah.

Q. Last time I watched you play, a couple of weeks ago, I think you said you were walking on the court and you were 980 in the world or something like that. Now you storm back to around 150. Are you thinking about rankings at all, like a goal where you're trying to get to, or just taking it match by match at this point?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, just taking it match by match. I think the best part about tennis is not playing for a while and having no points to defend and watching your ranking, slowly creep up. You're, like, Oh, passed you. Oh, yeah, points to defend. Oh, no, those are dropping. That's actually kind of fun.

No, no ranking goal, no nothing. Like, when I started I literally had no expectations. I had started walking like two months before I played at Wimbledon. So for me, I was, like, Just get out there and see what happens.

Obviously the first two matches weren't great, so, I mean, I just tried not to get too down on myself and, like I said, eventually you beat somebody.

Q. What have you learned from your injury?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What have I learned? Hmm. Enjoy my life. Yeah. I think that's the most important thing.

Q. How would you assess your fitness level right now? How close are you to where you think you need to be?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It could be better, but, I mean, it's never going to be perfect considering that I didn't walk for, like, four months.

Just kind of working my way into it. Eventually I'll drop the last little pounds I'm trying to lose, and I will be back to where I started when I was playing last year, and I think that's just the goal. Hopefully you're not too judgmental, and, yeah.

Q. How did you like being a commentator?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I loved it. It was so much fun. It was, like, the highlight of my year so far.

Q. Being away from the locker room for a little while, is it different in there on your return? Does it feel like you never left? New faces? I don't know.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, there are some girls I have never seen before. I'm, like, What's her name? Where did she come from? (Smiling.)

Yeah, there are a few of those. Everyone is pretty much the same. You catch up. Oh, you got married? You have a boyfriend? Okay.

That's the type of stuff where it's, like, yeah, I haven't seen someone in a long time. Obviously these girls, however long I have been on tour, I don't know how long, I have seen them every week. Not to have seen them for a while, you're, like, Okay, so what happened? Did he propose? Did your sister have a baby? What's going on?

Actually that part of it has been pretty funny, because you have to catch up with each individual person and be, like, So what happened? Whatever. So, no, I have actually had a good experience coming back.

Q. How do you deal with the weather conditions? It's very hot. How do you handle that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: The weather? Oh, like, I don't know.

Q. You must be handling it well.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, yeah. Hmm. It's been -- actually, it's been fine for me. Like, today when I was watching Kerber and Makarova, they looked like they were dying. Then when I played, it was totally fine. Just kind of didn't have the same conditions, I guess.

Q. You're tough. I really enjoyed your work on Tennis Channel, especially when you'd go undercover at the tournaments. That was some of the best.
SLOANE STEPHENS: That was so much fun.

Q. I wanted to ask you about your diet before injury, during injury, and now. How has it changed?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, God. Well, I'm one of those -- I love food, and I eat a lot. I think the first time I got injured I gained a lot of weight because I was just, like, eating up everything. I was going to my favorite restaurants. I was traveling places to eat at restaurants.

Yeah, so that's not good. But I really, like, enjoyed myself. And then the second time when I had the surgery, I had to watch what I ate a little bit more. So I had to cut down on the traveling to go to restaurants and stuff.

But I definitely have gotten a lot healthier. I try to eat spinach once a day or something green. Other than that, I haven't changed anything. Just eat green stuff and drink lots of water.

Q. What kind of sweets and treats do you like? How often do you do it? What's your favorite candy or ice cream or whatever?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't really have a sweet tooth. I don't eat chocolate. I hate chocolate. So disgusting. So it's so gross.

Other than that, like, I love, like, a good crepe and gelato, like, that type of stuff. Other than that, I really -- I don't really go out of my way to, like, get dessert.

Q. What are the favorite foods you stay away from?
SLOANE STEPHENS: That I need to stay away from? I'm just, like, one of those people -- okay. Name a restaurant. Like, any restaurant.

Q. Nobu.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Nobu. So I can go to Nobu. You go all out. I get, like, the miso cod. I get the yellowtail sashimi. I get everything on the menu. Like, I don't get just one thing. That's my issue. I can't stop eating.

Like, I get everything that I like, and it's, like, six dishes and I'm, like, Hmm, can't let that go to waste. You've got to eat everything.

Q. Are you one of the types to see that someone didn't finish, and...
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't like eating after people, but that's why I only take people that I'm really close with, like, boyfriend, mom, like, sibling. You're, like, I'll take that.

Q. Foodie question, then, what's the best destination restaurant? Or you actually traveled to it or would travel back to it?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Travel back to it?

Q. Go out of your way.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, my goodness. This is too good. I don't know. There are so many. I went to New York. You know Miss Korea in New York? Korean barbecue? That's, like, one of my favorites there in New York.

So Miss Korea, and then La Esquina. Since everyone is going to New York, you guys have to try those to restaurants. They're the best. La Esquina. And you have to get the corn and get the tortilla soup. It's really good.

Q. You mentioned you were watching some of the other players on the court. Is that something you have always done, or is that something new with your new commentator hat on?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I just happened to be eating lunch and it was on the TV. So, yeah, that was -- normally, like, I mean, obviously you're sitting somewhere and, like, the match will be on. You're not, like, fixated on it, but you're, like, Oh, yeah, they're playing good, whatever, blah, blah, blah.

I was eating lunch, and then there was this match point and this match point, and there was crying and sweating and on the floor. I was, like, So much is happening. So I obviously got into it because I was, like, Wow, this is so interesting. And then I found out that I played that match. So, yeah.

Q. What do you do to relax between matches?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Between matches? Like, when I'm waiting for my match?

Q. Just like tonight. What do you do tonight?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, I'm just gonna eat dinner and get in bed. I'm not very exciting.

Q. How much sleep do you try to get?
SLOANE STEPHENS: At least seven hours. That's at least. I wake up and take a nap. Like, at least seven and I wake up and take a nap. I love sleeping. It's like the most relaxing, like, it's the best thing to do.

Q. You don't have trouble sleeping even before a big match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Never. That's never been an issue.

Q. Do you have any fuzzy creatures, like a pet, something you love?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I have two dogs.

Q. What kind of dogs?
SLOANE STEPHENS: One is a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Pitbull. And then the other one is a Cockapoo.

Q. Their names?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Rog and Teddy. They're crazy.

I saw the cuteist video on Twitter the other day. There was a dog going to doggie school or something, and it, like, ran out of the house, like, into the doggie bus and was, like, waiting. Have you not seen that?

Maybe I will retreat it or something. It's amazing.

Cats, oh, my God, they are so scary. One, like, went like that to me one time. And I was, like, No.

The thing is, I'm deathly afraid of dogs. So if I see someone else's dog, I freak out. But when I was -- my brother was going to high school, he convinced my mom that he was deprived of a childhood because he didn't have a dog. And then my mom convinced me I needed to get over my fear of dogs. So she purchased a dog for my brother, and then I ended up having to live with a dog and it was, like, the worst, like, year of my life. It was so scary. Like, the dog would be, like, running around in the house and, like, come in my room and I'd be, like, Huh-uh. It was terrible. Now I love my dogs.

Q. They know when you're scared of them.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, but I think it would, like, bother me because it knew that I was, like, I don't want to see you. So he would, like, come more. I'd be, like, I don't want to hang out. Sorry.

But, yeah. Pets are amazing.

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