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September 5, 2017

Sloane Stephens

New York, NY, USA

S. STEPHENS/A. Sevastova

6-3, 3-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How different does this Grand Slam semifinal feel to you compared to the first?
SLOANE STEPHENS: To be honest, I don't really remember what I felt like after the first one. But it was, I'd say, the first one was quite overwhelming. But this one feels good.

Q. Do you feel more ready to handle this moment?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think I have a better perspective and just looking at the game totally different. Just happy with where I'm at. Just looking to build on it.

Q. Your opponent was asked about the atmosphere. She said it was pro you, American crowd. She said it was the loudest environment she ever played in. Talk about that atmosphere and how it affected the way you played and just the overall impression of the match.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it was incredible. I couldn't hear, like, anything. It was so loud in there. But I think that's what tennis players play for.

Obviously as an American, playing at your home slam, to have the crowd like that behind you, is incredible. I don't think there is any better feeling or better moment you'll get out of playing tennis.

I mean, yeah, it was pretty awesome. My first match on Ashe. So for me, I didn't really know what to expect. I wasn't used to the noise and all that stuff. It was a little bit of an adjustment, but other than that, it was -- I mean, that's what tennis players live for.

Q. By way of great play, you'll surely have another match on Ashe. Just talk about making the semifinals.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's incredible, amazing. Like I said before, if someone would have told me when I started at Wimbledon that I'd be in the semifinals or making, well, three semifinals back to back, I would have said they're crazy. Just happy to be playing really well and happy that my foot is good and I don't have any pain and my body is holding up.

So many positives, just to, like, take out of it for myself personally.

Q. Talk about the next match. Either Venus or Kvitova. You have played Petra a couple times already.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Obviously making semifinals of a slam is a complete neutralizer. Anybody's game. I just have to focus on myself and, yeah, that's all I can really do.

Q. What do you remember about your last semi against Azarenka?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Let's not talk about it (smiling).

Q. What does Venus Williams mean to you as a person and as an example?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think Venus is just our leader. I think as a whole, she's just like what everyone looks up to. She's a great player, a great person. She's a great leader.

Being on Fed Cup teams with her, like, there is not anything bad you can say about Venus. I'm just honored to be able to play at the same time as her. I'm happy she's still playing. She means a lot to the game.

Q. What's your personal favorite story about your relationship with Venus?
SLOANE STEPHENS: That's why personal stories are personal, because you don't tell people (smiling).

Q. In what ways are you a better player today than you were before dealing with the foot injury and all of that time away?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think just my head is a little clearer, if that makes any sense. Before, obviously, I was playing well. I had won a couple tournaments and was playing well, obviously. But being injured gave me a whole new perspective on tennis, on life, and just in general.

I think now, as I said before, I play tennis for a living, and I enjoy it and I have a great time. I don't think there is anything else I'd rather be doing.

Q. Coming out of Washington, you had had just the two matches, right? Wimbledon and Washington?

Q. Now 13 wins, all of them were over top-50 opponents. Did you sense anything? Did you feel any encouragement over something that had happened in those matches?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I think in Washington I had -- Ben was there and I said eventually, I'm going to beat somebody and them I'm going to beat two people in a row. And then did I think it was going to be the next week? No.

But I kept a good, positive, you know, whatever, like, the whole thing, that I was eventually going to beat somebody and things would be well again and all that stuff.

I just stayed positive. And then, yeah, look, there, semifinal, semifinal, semifinal. I couldn't really ask for a better way to come back. That's pretty much it.

Q. You have been talking about how you kind of came to this realization, screw it, my life is really pretty good, all things considered. Could you just talk a little bit more on how you came to that, what that moment was, what your thinking was, please?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't think it was, like, one moment. It was just obviously not playing tennis for basically 11 months. I couldn't walk, I couldn't do all the things that I wanted to do. But I did get to hang out with my family and see my little cousin's soccer games and go to weddings and baby showers and stuff. All the things that I thought before I was missing out on, I really wasn't.

Like, you know, playing tennis is an amazing thing and I'm lucky that I'm able to play a sport for a living. I really love playing tennis.

I think it was just kind of, like, eye opening. When I wasn't playing, like, of course I loved my time off, but when I got back to playing tennis, it was, like, this is where I want to be. This is what I love doing.

Over time, it just kind of, like, was, this is fun, this is great, actually.

Q. You spoke about your grandmother in the past. I'm assuming she's still with us? How is she doing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, tough time for my family last year. Obviously -- yeah. A long story, but another reason why I was happy that I wasn't able to play, because I got to spend more time with my family. Last year in Madrid, my grandma had a stroke so I spent a lot of time at home with my grandparents.

Everyone who knows me, like, my grandparents are, like, my life. They're my best friends. Yeah, I was just happy that I was able to spend that time with them. Life is short and you just have to keep the people you love really close.

Q. At 1-3 in the third set, there were a number of deuces in that game. You were just a couple of points away from being two breaks down in the third set. Did you think to yourself, if I can just pull this service game out that I can be able to win the match? Did you think that game at 1-3 was somewhat of a turning point?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I knew that I had to keep it close and that, obviously if I got down two breaks, it was going to be really difficult.

But I knew that if I kept it close, I would get my opportunities, and I just had to keep fighting and battling the whole way. Eventually I'd get a chance or two and I'd just have to take it. That's what I did. I didn't really think too much into it. I just continued to fight and play every point.

Q. In a certain way, besides finding out that you love tennis and that's your life or whatever, was it somewhat freeing because you found out also that there are other options? Obviously you were successful being a commentator and stuff. Does that kind of change your perspective, like, oh, well, there are other things to do?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, there are plenty of other things to do. The commentating was super fun, and I would totally do it again because I had a great time.

But, I mean, there are so many things -- if anyone wants to know, I'm actually going to fail my last semester of college because I'm here and I haven't submitted any work in, like, three weeks. That's another part of life that is really stressing me right now.

Q. Where are you going to school?
SLOANE STEPHENS: At IUE. It's a WTA thing. December 14 I'm supposed to graduate but I probably won't because I'm here and continue to be here, so...

Q. Not to be negative, but was there a particularly tough moment in your time away, or did you manage to stay positive?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, I was walking on a peg leg, so that whole, like, 15 weeks of that was, like, super tough. I was on a peg leg and in a cast. So I had, like, a full, like, thing on.

Well, did you see me in Charleston?

Q. Yeah, I saw...
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I had a cast and a peg leg, and I think those were probably -- that was, like, my toughest time. But I was at Tennis Channel, and I was around some great people, like Paul and Lindsay. I just tried to stay positive.

When I got really down, I had, like, another, like, way to kind of lift myself up. I think being around them, still just enjoying my time, even though I was super limited.

Q. Did you ever think that women would dominate in American tennis?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I didn't think we couldn't. I mean, we were going through a time where we didn't have that many people. But I think now there is 14 women in top 100, or 13? Does someone know? Someone knows. How many? How many women are in the top 100, U.S. women? Out of all you people, no one knows (smiling)? This is ridiculous.

Well, I think that we are doing great. And American tennis is headed in the right direction, men and women. Sam Querrey is in the quarters. That's also great.

Yeah, I think we are headed in the right direction.

Q. You talked about the crowd, people being excited, but when you walk through and how big the stadium is, obviously you had seen games here, but what was that like just to kind of look up and see how big it is? It seats 25,000? Does that...
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think you could put me on any court and it would probably be the same. Like I said, it was very loud. But it was cool. That's, like, the cool thing about playing tennis. You get to play on different courts, different stadiums, and, I mean, that's why you play tennis, right?

Q. There's a lot been said about four American women in the semis. Any significance about African-American women?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's great. It's great for American tennis. It's great for African-American women. I hope that we keep it going. Yeah, there is not really much to say other than it's amazing.

Q. What are the biggest questions or doubts that you have answered about yourself with the way you're playing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. I was just here to play, and when I started playing at Wimbledon, I didn't have any expectations. I just was coming out here to play and see what could happen, and I have played. This is what happened.

Q. What do you think would happen?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I had no expectations. I just, like I said, was coming out here to do what I do best. That's play tennis, just to see what would happen.

Q. The grind was always really tough. Obviously you're just coming back, but it has been a lot of success but still a grind over the last two weeks, a lot of tournaments and matches, a lot of press conferences. How are you approaching all of this perhaps differently? Is there any strategies you're using to kind of keep everything calm and relaxed between matches?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, just the normal stuff. I just say no to everything unless it's absolutely mandatory.

Yeah, that's my main thing (smiling). If anyone ever asks anything... (fly interruption.)

Okay. That was so disgusting. Wow. Sorry. What was the question?


Q. So do you have a thing with mosquitos and the like?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I don't like bugs. It's so disgusting. I don't know where that came from.

Q. Your earliest days, could you talk a little bit about when you first emerged in Fresno? It was said that you started hitting balls at a camp. I don't know whether that's true. What camp was that? Did you ever play at the clubs there? Who were your first coaches?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, so I grew up across the street from Sierra Sport Racquet Club. My first coach was Francisco González. I started playing summer camp. I thought it was fun. My stepdad used to take me. That's how I started playing.

I think my mom secretly always wanted me to be a tennis player, though. So that's why I started playing.

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