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June 7, 2018
S. STEPHENS/M. Keys
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. If you look back, US Open final, it's not that long ago. Afterwards, you had a very difficult period. Can you explain your love story with Roland Garros and how you regrouped and be a champion like you were last year?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What was the question? Sorry.
Q. How did you do it? After having a difficult period after your first Grand Slam title and come back and be the champion like you are now here at Roland Garros?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean, obviously after US Open, I was just starting my comeback, so I had only played like four tournaments, five tournaments. I was just kind of getting back in the groove of things.
And I think life came at me fast after the US Open and just kind of regrouping and getting myself together, which I did well, and I started playing better and better.
Then obviously had a good result in Miami and Fed Cup. Like, I have just slowly kind of gained momentum. There is no, like, formula. There's no right or wrong. It's just each person is individual and does it on their own time.
Q. You're close friends with Madi. You had a great final with her at the US Open last year. How did you put that to one side to focus on and come through today's match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's not easy. It's never easy playing someone from your country, let alone someone you actually, like, care about and you're friends with. It's very difficult.
I think more when I do play Madi, it's just -- on the court it's very competitive. We are always very competitive. But it's a little weird. There's not as much, "Come ons" and things like that. We have a lot of respect for each other. It's a little different in that aspect.
But I think we always compete well and play good matches.
Q. On that competitiveness, do you feel you've gotten better as a competitor in your career just match in, match out, competing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think so. I think just kind of getting older, more mature, just being out here for long periods of time, just traveling week in and week out, learning myself, learning my routines, learning what works best for me and what doesn't.
It's an individual sport, so you kind of have to figure that out to make sure you give yourself the best chance, and I think I do that well some weeks.
Q. Simona you face in the final. She's never won a Grand Slam. You have. Do you think that gives you a psychological edge over Simona?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. She's won plenty of tournaments. She's No. 1 in the world for a reason.
I think that we'll just have to go out and compete. Somebody's going to win. Someone has to win. Someone has to lose. Just go out, give it your all, and whoever wins, wins.
Q. What is your routine in order to lower the pressure?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Sorry?
Q. What is your routine for Saturday in order to lower the pressure?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Lower the pressure, like, for the match?
Q. Yes. And the title.
THE MODERATOR: What's your kind of routine that you go through to stay relaxed and stay loose before the final.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't really have one. I just do what I have been doing all the days, really. Nothing really too special. I'll come here tomorrow, have a hit, have lunch here, go to my room, watch TV, wait till dinner, have dinner, go to sleep. (Laughter.)
It's pretty boring. I wish there was something exciting to tell you, but it's really not.
Q. Last year obviously you were still away from the tour when the French Open took place. Do you remember what you were doing on the women's final on Saturday last year?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I have no idea what I was doing. But I remember, like, the first week of French Open, I was at a wedding in Ireland. So that was pretty cool, yeah.
But, yeah, I don't remember what I was doing during the final.
Q. What is your relation with this tournament? Have you ever felt good here?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I have had good results here. I have made the fourth round how many years? Somebody knows. Four years. Yeah, so that's a good result.
And I have always played here. I love playing here. So like I said, making the quarterfinals here was a big deal for me. I was really pleased. And obviously making the semis and finals, like, there is not much more you can ask for in a player.
And I think that I have done really well, but I'd like to keep going.
Q. If you win, would you use some of your winnings to open an ice cream shop on the Champs-√Člys√©es?
SLOANE STEPHENS: First of all, do you know how expensive rent is on the Champs-√Člys√©es? Like, let's just be real. That is out of my price range.
But Haagen-Dazs, I think -- well, if anything, I would just love some free ice cream. Like, they make Macadamia nut brittle, but only in Europe. If they brought it to the U.S., if anyone here wants to ask them, that would be very nice.
Q. Given a 6-0 record in finals, obviously they took place at different levels, but is there any one thread that runs through them for you in terms of your attitude going into them?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. I have had good opportunities in finals, and I have taken advantage of them. I have played well, played solid. And, I mean, there is no formula. I didn't, like, try to do it. I'm not trying to break a record. It's just how it's happened for me.
I think once I get going in a tournament, I'm pretty consistent, which is good. I just try to keep that going through the finals and just compete to the very last match.
Q. One of the most iconic sports photographs of last year was your wonderful expression when you received the check for winning the US Open. Maybe you've got that displayed somewhere? I don't know. But the question is have you had chance to look at the prize money for the final on Saturday, or could we see another wonderful expression after Saturday's match instead?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. Well, it's not as much as the US Open, right? (Laughter.) Okay. So maybe it won't be that thrilling.
I mean, obviously you make the finals of a Grand Slam it's a lot of money. How much is it?
Q. I know, but I don't want to tell you because I want to see the wonderful reaction on your face.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know if they tell you like they do -- do they tell you on the court? I think it's more of a secret. Europeans are very like... Americans are like, 3.7! Whoo! (Arms raised.)
Okay. I will just be surprised. That's fine. Thank you.
Q. Some people make finals, the pressure, they lock up, things like that. You seem to almost -- I don't know. Like when you get to the final, it's almost like it's a good result and you go out and play pretty freely and confidently. Does that ring true at all with respect to your psyche when you get to the final stage?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I guess. When you get to the final, obviously you have played well, but the person that you are playing against also played well. So I think I go in knowing it's going to be a battle no matter what, no matter who you're playing.
Obviously anything could happen. I guess you could be playing No. 1 in the world or No. 90 in the world. Really, it doesn't matter. It's just basically going out and competing because the person you're laying against has done the exact same thing as you.
Q. Going back to Simona, how do your games match up and what are you expecting in the final?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm expecting her to compete. Obviously she's No. 1 in the world. There is reason why she's in the finals.
I can't give you a play-by-play on her game, but if you ask my coach he probably can.
I think for myself I'll just have a good game plan and just try to execute the best I can when I go out there. It's just mainly about competing. No one is going to hand you the match. It's a Grand Slam final. You have to go out there and get after it and make sure you play every point and try to execute your game plan as best as possible.
Q. I know you have been asked this a couple of times at the US Open last year, but 12 months or 11 months after you came back on tour, do you still have to pinch yourself sometimes with some of the great results you have had or is it something like, okay, I knew I was capable of doing this but maybe the timing was unexpected?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I think definitely the timing was unexpected, playing four tournaments and winning the US Open, like, doesn't happen. I don't think that's happened to anyone.
But I think that the results now, I wouldn't say I'm shocked, but I'm, like, very happy. I think I worked really hard coming back and getting in the gym, and when I was chubby trying to get skinny and when I was out of shape getting back in shape. Like, I have recognized more things I have needed to do.
So when I have gotten in shape and done all the things that my coach asked me to do, I kind of -- not expect good things to happen, but, like, I just put it into the universe, like, God, look what I did, help a sister out.
Q. Along the same lines, entering this year after the result at the US Open, do you walk into this year having these sorts of expectations for yourself? This is on track with what you want to accomplish in the game now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Well, the beginning of the year I was injured. Didn't have a good result in Australia, and I knew that I needed to change some things, and I did that and I had a great result in Miami.
I had a great showing at Fed Cup, which I was really happy with. I had okay results this clay court season. I lost to some great players: Pliskova, Garcia. It's not really anything to put your head down about.
Just being able to recognize that I have had some really great ups and not so many hard downs, but just trying to stay consistent with the level, I think that's worked best for me.
Q. You're going to be the top American in the WTA rankings for the first time in the next rankings. Does that mean anything to you, that milestone?
SLOANE STEPHENS: That's cool (smiling). It's normally, like, Venus and Serena. So, I mean, let's be real. Like, if they were ahead of me, it wouldn't be an issue.
Q. Kind of on that, but you joked earlier this year about how it took so many tries to crack top 10.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah.
Q. You're going to crack top 5 after this tournament very quickly from cracking top 10. Does that mean anything to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It was cool. I think just the whole point is just to get to top 10. And it was, like, I was 11, so it was a really big deal. And you guys reminded me literally every press conference that I was 11 and that I was close to 10, and now at 10, and it was a big deal.
And now it's, like, I don't think anyone really cares. But it's fun, though (smiling).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports