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December 30, 2018

Sloane Stephens

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Q. Sloane, it's been a few years since you've played here. What went into the decision to come back to Brisbane?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I've honestly wanted to come back here and I think it was just time for a good change-up. I haven't been back in like five years or something like that. It was just a good little change-up. What's the other tournament that's here? Oh, Auckland is the same week. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I played there. I won there once, and I played again. So it's kind of just good change-up, and trying to be different and do new things. I don't know.

Q. What's the few days been like here so far? Are you getting settled and have you done some fun stuff off the courts?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. It's been fine. Just adjusting to the time obviously is like the toughest thing. Jet lag is never fun, but yeah, yesterday we did like a little shoot with Sam and Petra, and that was fun, just to help me stay up a little longer. So that's good. Yeah, there's a really good Indian next to the hotel. So I'm obviously happy with that. And yeah, I can't complain. Everything's been really good. My room's nice. Like literally no complaints.

Q. Is that your game plan to find good Indian food, because that's your Wimbledon tradition, too. Right?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. It's like you know you're really bad when like people come up to you and say, oh, did you see the Indian restaurant next to you? Yeah, saw it. Already got it. Yeah, that's really bad, like male players are like, yeah, you know there's one next to the hotel. Like, I saw it. Yeah, I love Indian food. So yeah. It's exciting.

Q. How long did you need to leave your racquets in the bag?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It was like two weeks, like two and a half weeks. Not long enough I feel like. I feel like I was just playing like a week ago. When I started practicing, I was like, oh, that was it. It's not what I thought it was going to be. Normally you feel really like, I don't know, lethargic, you've probably eaten a lot, gained a few pounds or whatever. And I was like, this is like I felt like I was doing this last week. So I guess that's a good thing, good sign. Obviously the longest I've ever played before in the season. My latest finish, I guess. But, yeah, I mean it wasn't bad. I was excited to get here and play here again. It was a nice little break. But definitely 2019 is going to be another long year. So I'm just going to go with it, roll with it, take your breaks when you need to. Yeah, figure it out along the way.

Q. Do you feel like, because you won the US Open in 2017 and that had obviously a whole new life of obligations and media stuff and all that. How long did it take for you to settle into all of that? Is this a fresh start or how do you feel?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't think I've still fully settled. I feel like just when I think it's like over, then.

Q. There's more.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, then theres more. Like you make another final in a Grand Slam, or you're in Miami and it starts all over again. And I feel like I've had to balance, like last year I had to balance my time really well, just trying to like figure out how to handle my life and what was important to me, my priorities, my family, making time to see my grandparents, and all the things that I find important, like my priorities. And I think sometimes when there's a lot going on, you kind of just forget like, I should go home, I should do this, like sit in your bed for two days. Just like a lot of stuff you have to really think about, and when things are going so fast and you're moving and playing and going from city to city, this tournament and that tournament, you kind of just get lost in the sauce, I guess. So yeah, trying not to do that. But it is difficult.

Q. The women's tour being so open and even, the Grand Slam trophy has been shared the last two years. What do you think it's going to take for one woman to win two or three slams in 2019?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, I don't know. I think that person would just have to raise their level. Obviously I think the top of the game right now is really steady. They're really solid. So anyone any week can take a title, but I think the state of the women's game is really cool. I think it's cool to be playing at this time with like younger girls the same age as me that I grew up playing tennis with, are playing, competing for titles, competing for Grand Slams. I think I'm playing in a really solid like stage of women's tennis, and I think it's something that's really cool.

Q. What's it like playing during a time where it's like all the generations are going up against each other at one time? Like you have the 20-year-olds, you have the 20s, 30s. Is it weird to take the court and kind of see somebody across the net that's on any given day completely in a different generation?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I mean it is kind of weird, honestly. But like I said, for my tennis career, being able to play against like Venus and Serena and being able to say I played against Osaka, I played against Pennetta, like those type of people, like after a while, I mean it's long forgotten, like Safarova, Radwanska, like those type of people. I think that was some of the greatest players to play, and I think like especially like Radwanska, like Safarova making Grand Slam finals, Venus and Venus; Pennetta, when they get a Grand Slam. Like I think overall like one of the coolest things in my tennis career is I got to play against Lee Na, I thought that was like the greatest thing ever. I just happened to be playing in really good years that I got to play against all these people and a lot of people obviously won't. The younger girls that are like 16, 17 now, they'll probably never get to play against Venus and Serena or obviously Lee Na and Kim Clijsters, they're all retired now, but I think was just old enough to be able to play against all those girls and then I'll be able to play against a few younger ones. So I think it's kind of cool. Like I did a good job. My mom made me at a good time. Yeah, timing is good.

Q. What was it like to play her?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. She's a beast. Obviously someone that got every ball back. She made you work for every point, and I think in the women's game, like there was always a couple of people who just were annoying as hell to play, and you guys already know that Niculescu is the most aggravating person on the planet to play. But I'd say that Radwanska is pretty high up there, too. I think those two for me are just like what a headache. But in their own right two really amazing players. But just they brought something different to the game, and I think when you have a game like that that's so special and unique, like they can create stuff from all over the court and do really weird stuff like that no one else can do, I think that's pretty cool and that's something to be proud of. Obviously she was a master on the court, and I think when you look back, when she looks back on her career, like she did some amazing shit. Like I don't know how she did it, but she was good at it.

Q. This is a little off topic, but Indian Wells is kind of maybe your home tournament or the one time you get to play like in your backyard.

Q. What is it like when you get to play in front of family and friends and close to LA?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Honestly, I've never like had -- like my grandparents come to Indian Wells, but normally it's not -- like in Miami, when I went to Miami, like literally my whole family, I think they just want to go to Miami. So like everyone I know went to Miami. But like no one comes to Indian Wells. Like it was so weird.

Q. So your grandparents are in Fresno?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. They just drove.

Q. What's it like to play in front of them?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It's fun. They love it. But I mean, they don't care. They're like, all right, cool, we're going to go play golf. Like they don't -- they have no idea what's going on. But I mean, I don't know. I feel like no one ever really goes -- like none of my friends ever show up. Like they always go to places like -- my best friend went to French Open, and I'm like, why did you fly all the way over here when you could have gone to Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, US Open, like whatever. I think people just use me as an excuse to go somewhere out of the country or far away is really what it comes down to.

Q. When your grandparents come to Indian Wells, do you guys all stay in a house together?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, my God, no. No. My grandparents go to like Palm Springs literally like three or four times a year, so they stay in their little like time share and I go visit them and have dinner with them and stuff. Those things are over. I just went on family vacation with them and it was --

Q. Something.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Next year.

Q. Do you guys have family dinners together?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, yeah. On vacation?

Q. No, at Indian Wells.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, every night. Every night. Every night.

Q. And what's the go-to meal?
SLOANE STEPHENS: We go to Ruth Chris every night. Early bird special, around 5 p.m. 4:45. So, yeah, it's awesome.

Q. Looking ahead, Sloane, what are the things that you've taken out of 2018, the lessons for 2019?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I wanted to stay healthy for 2018, which I did, I thought, pretty well. Obviously there were some bumps and bruises along the way, but I thought that I did really well with that. I wanted to play more consistent, which I thought I did really well with that. Obviously some bumps in the road, but I thought that overall I had like a really solid season. Obviously trying to back up a Slam win is not easy, and not having played for 11 months, I didn't know what was going to happen. So I think just being able to have a solid season last year, just build on that, and knowing that I can play, obviously, with the top girls in the world, just kind of like believing in myself, and then just keeping it going just one match at a time, obviously winning one match at a time.

Q. Thanks for the clarification.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. Just in case you didn't know what I was talking about.

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