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September 2, 2018

Sloane Stephens

New York, NY, USA

S. STEPHENS/E. Mertens

6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Back in the quarterfinals. You're playing the same person you played last year.
SLOANE STEPHENS: My goodness. Sorry, my voice is still gone.

I think it will be a good match. I played her in Montreal. We played a good match. Hoping to just get out there and kind of execute the same game plan. Obviously won't be easy. Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam is always really tough. A big opportunity for both of us.

Just excited to get out there and compete again. Obviously being defending champion, being able to get to the quarterfinals again, is incredible. I'm just going to try to keep building on that and keep going.

Q. Talk about being the defending champion at America's Grand Slam, hearing the crowd support.
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's crazy. It's so special. I think an American playing at the US Open is incredible. But obviously winning here, being the defending champion is crazy. Then to follow that up and do well again, I think it's something to really get behind.

I think the state of American tennis, women's tennis especially, is incredible right now. I think the support is unbelievable for all American players. Just excited to be playing at a time like this.

Q. Does it still seem somewhat surreal to talk about yourself as the US Open champion at all?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's kind of weird. Like I never really say that out loud. When you put it in context so people will understand, you have to say it. It's kind of weird.

Just, you know, grateful to be able to have won last year, take in a really great opportunity and make it into something. Then again this year, playing some good tennis. Just excited to be playing well and at my home tournament, home slam.

Q. You had a big reaction when you beat Vika, another tonight. How happy are you you've been able to embrace this moment?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think definitely it's fun. Like playing at the US Open as an American is super fun. I think defending a title is super tough. It doesn't happen very often. I think the expectation to come in here and win the tournament is just ridiculous, like it's you have to take one match at a time.

Defending a title isn't defending. If you were to play the same people in a row again and beat all of them again, that would be defending your title. When you're playing a whole new draw, different seedings, different ranking, there's so much that goes into it. When you go to a tournament, it starts all over again.

I think I try not to put too much emphasis on defending the title, just try to come in and win as many matches as possible, like keep playing, keep going.

Obviously I want to get my ranking as high as I possibly can. Coming in here I was 3. I want to keep going. Obviously from 3, there's only two more spots to go. You still got a lot of work to go.

That's exciting. It's something new. I've never had that type of, like, challenge before. I think now it's something really cool, something to look forward to. I'm excited about where my game is, about competing, being on the court.

Q. Is that important, viewing these moments more as challenges than nerve-wracking moments? Did you think you'd be more nervous?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think definitely in the first couple rounds I was super nervous. Not because I didn't know my game was there, it was because of the moment. You were here last year, you did something so great. What's going to happen now?

You can only focus on things you can control. Yeah, I'm nervous, but I can still move my feet. Yeah, I'm nervous, but I can still hit my serve over 60 miles an hour. There's things you can do to control the moment. Focusing on those little things definitely helped me in the earlier rounds. I'm playing solid. I just have to keep that in mind, just try to keep going.

Q. What's surprised you most when you got to hold the US Open trophy for the first time and what have you done with it since?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Nothing. I mean, I was more surprised that I won the US Open. Who cares about the trophy. I've only seen my trophy like once or twice. It's at my grandparents' house, honestly. It's in their dining room. They see it every morning, show all their friends.

I think it came at the end of last year. Literally everyone in my family sent me selfies of them with the trophy in my grandparents' living room. It's safe and sound, gets a lot of love. It's pretty cool, something to have that's really amazing, something I'll remember for the rest of my life, show my grandkids. It's cool.

Q. What is your approach to the art of hitting balls up into Ashe Stadium after a match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Get them as high as you possibly can. Those people pay money, too. You have to show them some love. They look like ants when you are playing down there. Got to get them a ball. It's the least you can do.

Q. What is it like for you to do that after a match?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's fine. I mean, you do it at every single tournament. It's not anything too crazy.

Q. Being as mature as you are in this game, what do you think of the fact that this is the 50th year and the whole Arthur Ashe commemoration?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think it's really special. I think to be able to play in this time of tennis obviously is incredible. To be able to play with Venus and Serena, two of the greatest players to ever play, I think it's amazing. To be able to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium is incredible.

I think just where tennis is right now, especially American tennis, the US Open is so incredibly special to Americans. I'm honored I've been able to play here, receive wild cards, play on the new Louis, the old Louis. I've done it all, I've seen the tournament grow a lot. It's very special as an American player to be able to be a part of it.

Q. You've started your own charitable foundation. Why did you start it? What kind of work do you do?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I started it because I love kids. I think tennis has given me a lot in my life. Given me a lot of opportunities to travel the world, see the world, free education through the WTA. I've been able to meet incredible people. Tennis has done a lot in my life.

I think the opportunity to give back is very special. I love kids. I think my passion is definitely showing kids how to play tennis, spending time with them, making them see that you can grow up and be a professional tennis player, you can grow up and play on your high school team, go to college. I think that's very important.

My foundation has 23 schools that do after school tennis, Saturday tennis, recess tennis. I think it's very important to be able to give back and show kids that nothing is impossible. Tennis is an amazing tool to be able to do stuff in your life. Like I said, whether it be your high school team, your junior college team, whatever it may be, just giving the kid the opportunity to see that you can get there. It's really cool to me. It gives me something to do. When I leave the sport of tennis, I want to make sure I leave something behind, it won't be just about me, me winning a US Open or Miami Open. I want it to be more of I gave someone an opportunity to make something of their life, do something bigger. To me that's very important.

Q. (Very long question about the lob point in the match.)
SLOANE STEPHENS: You are not describing that point good. But I know what you're talking about.

Q. Describe it then.
SLOANE STEPHENS: She hit a dropshot, I hit a dropshot back. Then she lobs me to my forehand. I ran back and hit a forehand cross-court and the crowd went crazy.

You didn't describe it like that. You were getting lost in there. I think that was a great point.

Q. Can you answer my question?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I thought you were just telling me. What's the question?

Q. In a point like that, is there something that flashes through your mind as you sprint back, or are you just so focused on running it down?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I knew when I started running back, I knew exactly where I was going to hit the ball. That's it. Run back there, hit it, hopefully it goes in. Not much when you're running fast and trying to make a play on the ball.

Q. On points like that that are sort of unusual, how much ever in practice do you try that where whoever you're working with might hit a lob?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Never, never, never. I'm the type of person if the ball goes over my head, I'm like, Whatever. In practice... I don't practice that. I think it makes it unnatural. It makes you try to do too much if you're practicing trick shots. I don't know how Kyrgios and guys like that do it. If I was trying to do that all the time, I would try to do something that wasn't natural. So I think just like I always say, get your racquet on it, make a play on the ball, make your opponent play an extra ball. That's the most important thing to me.

Sometimes it doesn't have to be the best shot, but making them play another shot, you might get another opportunity. I worked really hard on that instead of trying to hit a trick shot or do fancy stuff. Just simple, make them play an extra ball and see what happens.

Q. Where is the trophy? Where are your grandparents?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Fresno, California.

Q. In the States we have an East Coast and West Coast discussion. You have history in the both. Is there one you prefer over the other?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, not really. I love California and I love Florida. Yeah, I kind of grew up in both places. Both have great weather, so I can't complain about that. Both have great tennis and great food.

Q. Have you ever visited Phoenix?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I've been to Phoenix for 12 or 14 unders super nationals.

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