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August 28, 2017

Sloane Stephens

New York, NY, USA


7-5, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you planning to send up any gifts to Denis?
SLOANE STEPHENS: If I see him at a restaurant, I'll totally send him some stuff.

Q. Take me through the match.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it feels great obviously, playing a Grand Slam is totally different, especially your home slam. A little bit tough in the first set. But I was pleased to get through.

Then obviously super lucky let cord at the end of the first set. I started playing better in the second, so I was really happy with that.

Q. Playing against someone with so much experience, did it take you a set to figure out her game?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think she was playing really well. It was a little bit windy. Obviously a slice backhand in the wind, like a lot of things going on there. She's always a tough player. She's had some great results here. She plays amazing. It was always going to be tough.

That slice of hers, no easy ask. It was tough all around, but I was happy to get through.

Q. Did you expect to be playing this well this early in your comeback?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I just was happy to be on the court the last couple of weeks, just enjoying playing. Happy to be injury-free and pain-free, all that good stuff. I didn't really have any expectations coming back. I just wanted to play again.

I've exceeded everything that I thought I would.

Q. Was there frustration that crept into your game before you went away that is good right now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think when you play week in and week out, a couple years in a row, there's a lot of ups and downs, I think it can wear you out a bit.

I obviously wasn't happy to get injured. That's not anything that I ever wanted. But it was a good lesson for me. It was a good time to be able to take a break, get my health in order, then just kind of reevaluate my whole entire situation, come back a better player and better person.

Q. Talk about Kamau, how much you were in contact with him, how important has he been?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I didn't talk to Kamau at all (laughter).

No, he lives in Chicago. Obviously we would talk on the phone. When you're not playing, there's not much to talk about. How are the kids? How are the babies? That type of stuff. We have more that type of relationship. I will call and ask how is his daughter, how is his two boys, things like that.

When you're not playing, it's hard to have discussions about tennis and stuff.

Q. What were some of those first practices like back on the court?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Obviously I was, like, sitting in a chair my first practices. I couldn't run. It was super slow and boring. There was nothing much to do. I could only hit 20 balls the first day, then I was sitting in a chair. Then I couldn't run.

It was interesting. It was fun. But it was super boring.

Q. He seems to be so positive, a positive presence. How important is that to you during matches to feel that support coming from your box?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's really awesome. I always tell them, like, You need to chill out, you need to be louder, something like that.

He's super positive. I've never had a problem with that. I think, if anything, it's helped me kind of push through some tough matches because my team has been so strong.

Q. Before you were injured, you were playing well. Do you think that helped you in the comeback?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, maybe. I think my main focus was just to get back to where I was before. Before I got injured, I was playing some really good tennis. I think I knew it was going to take time, but I eventually wanted to get back to where I was.

I didn't think it would happen, like, in the third tournament. It's better than I could have hoped for. I think I'm fighting my way back, which is great.

Q. What did you make of the new court, some of the changes around the grounds?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I haven't really seen. I haven't really even seen inside of Ashe. I have never seen the roof or whatever. I heard the food at the food court is good. That's really all I really... Anything upgrade, I don't know.

Q. What do you like to do in New York, a restaurant you like to visit?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, La Esquina is my favorite restaurant and then Miss Korea. You should go.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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