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September 3, 2017

Sloane Stephens

New York, NY, USA

S. STEPHENS/J. Goerges

6-3, 3-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's your first US Open quarterfinal. What are some of the emotions that are going through your head right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm just really happy. Obviously before or when I started playing again at Wimbledon and D.C. I didn't expect much. I was just playing and having fun, having a good time. I'm still playing and having a good time. That's really all there is to it.

Q. Any strategies to keep it fun as it gets more serious at this point?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, no. Just keep having fun.

Q. You have such a good head-to-head record against Julia. What is it about your game that allows you to match up so well?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. I don't think the head-to-head is really, like -- I mean, obviously it's accurate, I've won the matches. But we've played tight matches. Before, like, you just can't -- I don't know. Like when I played her in Auckland in the finals, that was a tough match. That was a final, so that was tough.

Obviously when I played her in Cincinnati -- both times I played her, like, I played two matches in one day. So I think that's tough to, like, kind of -- I don't know. It's just a weird situation. It's never happened with anyone else. Kind of a weird situation.

But no, I like playing her. She hits a good ball. We always have great matches. Just fortunate that I've won most of them.

Q. When you were coming back from the injury, did it seem like it took forever for it to heal or did things go quickly?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, no, I don't know. I mean, there were like two parts of it. The first part was after the Olympics, I was injured. I thought I was going to be able to come back and play. Then obviously having to have surgery in January kind of like prolonged it more. So that part probably made it a little bit longer.

But it's been okay, yeah.

Q. Sometimes it feels like forever for some people. They get frustrated. Did that happen to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, it didn't feel like forever. I tried to stay in tennis, did the stuff with the Tennis Channel. Stayed active. Tried to enjoy my life as much as possible because I knew I probably wouldn't get that time back again, wouldn't be able to do the things I wanted to.

Q. On the flipside, you always had confidence in your ability, but has it surprised you at all how quickly you've gotten back to this kind of form?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, no. I mean, yes, it surprised me. Obviously, I could never say, Oh, yeah, when I was coming back, I'm going to make two semifinals, a quarterfinal. I would have been like, You're crazy.

But I definitely think that, uhm, I'm playing well. I think it's more of like putting the matches together, like, that process that makes it a little bit tougher when you're coming back.

I was lucky able to get a lot of those matches in a row, like in Toronto and Cincinnati back-to-back, which during a comeback is not easy. So I think that's probably where I kind of got a little fortunate there.

Q. Could you give us a bit of a commentary, scouting analysis, of Sloane Stephens as the TV commentator? What are your strengths? What do you need to work on?
SLOANE STEPHENS: You want me to do that?

Q. Yes, I do.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, well, when I worked for Tennis Channel, I never commentated a match. I'm not good at this. I don't do any of that.

She's a good player. She's tough to play. That's all I got (smiling).

Q. Was it easier than you thought?
SLOANE STEPHENS: The Tennis Channel thing?

Q. Yes.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, it was fun. Like, yeah, I had a great time. I got to hang out with - I said this before - Tracy, Paul, Lindsay. We talked about tennis all day long. I mean, there's really nothing better.

Q. When you were there talking to all of them, hanging around them, how did it impact you on the road to recovery? Was there any particular advice they gave that you found helpful?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I think just, like, staying involved with tennis and being able to be around tennis. Like, obviously I was at Indian Wells, I was at Charleston. We just talked about game styles and matches. Obviously after a match went off, we would interview a player, this and that.

It was more of a fun thing than a serious, like, learning, teaching type of moment. It was more of a just, like, I'm still around tennis and having fun. I get to hang out with Paul and Lindsay and everyone, yeah.

Q. Before the injury, was there ever a sense when you were playing that sometimes when younger players, they're kind of like, What am I missing, like the regular non-tennis life friends, being in a singular place for a long time, there's a little bit of a tug that can happen when you're on tour, then you have this time off and you get to experience all that, kind of get your fill of it. Do you feel different now coming back, kind of maybe not having as much of that tug of back to that non-tennis life that you might be, like, missing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, definitely. I feel, like, before -- before I felt like I was missing out. Then I got to enjoy it, go to weddings, baby showers, soccer games, all this stuff.

Yeah, I obviously was upset that I was injured. But in that time I got to do all of the things that I would never have been able to do. Looking back, like, it was probably the best, I don't know how long, 10 months or however long it was, that I've had in my life because I got to enjoy all those things.

But I really did miss tennis. So it was kind of, like, yeah. But now that I look back, I'm so happy I got to do all that stuff. Now I'm so happy that I'm back playing and in the quarterfinals of the US Open. It's kind of a give-and-take.

Q. A lot of success for the women so far in the US Open, the U.S. women. Have you been sharing in each other's success, or is everybody zoned in on their own path this year?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, I don't really know what you mean by that.

Q. All the other U.S. women competitors, Venus, a lot of Americans who have made it this far. Have you been cheering each other on, or is everybody kind of zoned in on their own?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think it's like every other tournament when someone does well, Good job, great match, whatever. But I don't think anyone's, like, over the top. I mean, I don't know how to answer that. Sorry.

Q. You described some of the benefits of your time away. What were the biggest challenges to get back to the level you're at right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, well, I had surgery on my foot, so obviously I had to do a lot of rehab, a lot of extra training I wouldn't normally have to do. I think that was probably, like, the toughest part of, like, coming back.

Obviously because I wasn't able to walk for, like, I don't know, 16, 18 weeks, whatever it was, I think that was probably the toughest time for me.

Q. What was that like to get over the hump from when you couldn't walk even to get to where you are now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, I don't think it was, like, as tough. It was more of, like, an exciting time because I couldn't walk, I was off the peg leg, then I was happy I could walk, I was happy I could sit in a chair and play tennis. I think it was more I kept a really positive attitude and I tried to just be excited about every single thing. It worked out better that way.

Q. Do you have any sense that you're playing really good ball, draw is open, you could really do this thing and go all the way?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, don't think about that. Just one match at a time. Just play and have fun.

Q. Have you talked to Bethanie at all about her injury, all that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Huh-uh, no. Should I? Is there something I should know?

Q. You have Sevastova next, a different opponent from Goerges. What is your strategy heading into that one?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, she's a great player. I will obviously talk to my coach, just go out and play the game that I've been playing. Obviously tweak a few things here and there, but pretty much the same thing.

I mean, I played a lot of matches in the last couple weeks. I can't really change too much. But I'm sure I'll have a good game plan going into it. That will be that.

Q. Are you looking forward to being out on Ashe?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Are you sure I'm going to be on Ashe, though?

Q. Fingers crossed.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, if I am, that will be good. Will be awesome.

Q. You spoke before about your enhanced appreciation by being away. What do you think you appreciate most now that you're back?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What do I appreciate most? I don't know. God, these are, like, hard questions.

I don't know. I think it's, like, just being able to be, like, pain-free, just being on the court again. I mean, obviously when I couldn't play, I literally couldn't even, like, go on the court, stand and hit a ball. I had to sit down and all that stuff.

I think that now that I'm, like, running around and, like, sweating, my ponytail is flying, these are all such great things.

I think I'm just happy to be running around and competing again.

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