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May 9, 2019

Sloane Stephens

Madrid, Spain


6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Can you talk through the match? To start off, what do you think was the key?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I thought I played well. My opponent has been playing well, she won her first title in Istanbul, she's been playing real good, and I thought I served really well today. I made her play an extra few balls. And that was kind of the plan, so I thought I executed well and I'm happy to be through.

Q. You were saying that before the tournament bringing Sven brought structure, I don't know if it meant your game or the practices or whatever it is. Can you talk a bit about kind of what he's brought this week?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yes, he's been great. Obviously, being able to train for a little bit before coming here was good to just kind of try to get know each other and in the first part of the year, I was in and out, up and down, very emotional, it was a very bumpy road, and I think him coming in has brought structure and consistency and that's -- to play my best tennis that is what I need, so yeah, it's gone well so far, so hopefully keep going.

Q. You feel the impact, like immediately? Some people will look at this and say Sloane made the semifinals of Madrid and cause and effect. I don't know if you buy into that or less so?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think that he's a great coach and obviously, he's helped me a lot. I definitely do think that, personally, I knew what I needed. I needed structure and consistency and someone who is going to have my back and be supportive, like all these things, and he checks all those boxes, so if it's Sven is making me win, then Sven is making me win (laughing) and that's all that matters. When I win, we all win.

Q. When you join with a new coach, how do you get to know them and break the ice? Is that just a lot of Indian food?
SLOANE STEPHENS: You have to get comfortable really quickly. Obviously, he's from Holland, it's a little bit different, I'm American. I eat whatever I want, I do -- it's a bit different (laughing) so I've got to just break the ice and not be afraid to say what needs to be said.

Obviously, in a new relationship, it's like getting a new boyfriend, like you don't want to, you don't want to stuff your face at dinner, you don't want to whatever. So it's definitely tricky, but the sooner you get kind of adjusted and comfortable, the better I think the relationship is and I'm not afraid to say what I need, or what I want, or what I'm feeling, so yeah, that is where we are right now. It's been a week and it's been good so far.

Q. You played Petra in Australia and I read that there was a video of her crying and you saw it and maybe said something?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I had to go. I was standing up for my girls, like she's a competitor, but I don't think that if it was a guy, they wouldn't have put it up there and I think there's some boundaries that obviously need to be put in place for situations like that.

And there's definitely a human element to a sport and the things that are happening. We'd obviously played a very intense match, it was a great match, it was on TV, my grandparents were like, oh it was beautiful, blah blah blah. But there's an element where it is like, you don't just do that and I'm not afraid to say what I feel or how I feel how it needs to be said.

If no-one was going to speak up for her, I was. It is not my job, but that's not something I want to see on TV, whether it was me or anyone else, and definitely not the first time that I have had to speak about such situations.

Q. Where do you get that from, being open to say whatever you want to say? Some people wouldn't want to rock the boat.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, when things are wrong, they are wrong. And I mean that is just how I was raised. Like whether you are my friend or not, like if that is not how it is supposed to be, that is not how it is supposed to be. And I feel like at some point you have to speak up, where it is for something or someone else. If someone doesn't have the voice to say what they need to say, you have to deal with it like that.

Q. I go back to when you became famous in tennis world, you played very well on clay in Roland Garros before you were famous. But clay suits your game because you can also do this in other courts.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I like clay. Obviously, growing up in South Florida I played on a lot of green clay and I enjoyed it. Obviously, coming to red clay is a whole different beast, but yeah, I move well on it, my game suits it well and I always love the clay court swing.

Q. You are having a good time in Madrid by now, yes, because I know the Spanish people, many times they go to see only Nadal, but it's the way it works here.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yes, that's totally okay. I'm okay with no-one being at my matches (laughing).

Q. Yes. At the same time, do you think it is better in Grand Slams? Here we have 'W-e-e-T-A' (WTA) and ATP...
SLOANE STEPHENS: What did you just call it?

Q. That is the way we say it in Spanish, it is a joke, WTA, sorry. Like, it's true that for years, the girls came here in 2009, but also, at the same time, the female tennis has gone a lot to Asia. Do you think this is the reason, or that you are not appearing so much in the TVs, in the normal TVs in Europe? Do you think that has an influence?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Okay. Can you repeat the question?

Q. I mean, as you are not appearing in so many European televisions, for instance Eurosport, do you think that has an influence that the female tennis is being followed or not because for me it is also amazing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Why is it not being shown on Eurosport? Are you saying they show more guys?

Q. Yes, in the last period, the female tennis is more in platforms, but not in CNN or BBC, or things like that.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know why there's some tennis, women's tennis not shown. I know the WTA, we had that little streaming thing and I think we are back on the Tennis Channel which is good.

I think obviously we are one of the biggest, if not the biggest sport in women's, like sports at all. We are the biggest, okay. So, I think we are seeing a lot on TV. I wish there were more, yeah, but I think that's maybe because when you go to the US Open you see all the Americans players on TV. When you come to Spain, you see Rafa. When you go to French Open, you see Tsonga and Monfils and I think that is how it is.

But I do think that equally it's shown, it could be better, but I mean I don't work for a TV network so I can't tell.

Q. You got either Petra or Kiki Bertens next in the semifinals. Can you talk about each one of those match-ups and what challenge challenges they present?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Petra has been playing great, she's had a great season. She's a great player. On clay -- I have never played her on clay before. It will be a good match, very competitive.

And Kiki, another great player. Her best surface is clay, so I think that will be a good match tonight, the rematch of the final last year.

So, whoever I play, it will be really competitive but looking forward to it, obviously my first semifinal of the year, so like it is better late than never (laughing).

Q. It is still early.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Excited to be playing and happy to be off to a good start on the clay court swing.

Q. How different do you feel confidence-wise, game-wise, whatever, from when you landed in Madrid to now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think I have just won a few more matches. Yeah, like I said, I felt like my season really started after the Fed Cup, so after that I was like, alright, I'm ready to go, like, it's up and forward from here.

So yeah, I really wanted to have a good result here. I haven't really done well here in eight years, I've never made a quarterfinal or semi, so it's a good step this week going, starting my clay court, my red clay court season, so yeah.

Q. Then, going back to the question about standing up for the girls and things like that. Do you find yourself growing into that kind of leadership role generally from being kind of the newbie in the locker room to now?
SLOANE STEPHENS: (Smiling) We've had some debates (laughing). I think that I definitely like to help my tour and the girls and make the environment better and make sure everyone is happy.

Like I said, it's not my job, but I feel, like, when you are around these people for like 30 weeks a year, it needs to be fun and not like everyone want to cut their throats off. I just kind of find myself, like, trying to make it better and the younger girls making them feel comfortable, I guess, like because when I was coming up it wasn't great. It wasn't what I had totally envisioned.

So, I think, like, just a hi, how's it going? Your dress is cute, like, where did you get it from? I saw you on Instagram. I think now that goes a longer way because being a approachable is very, in the day and age that we are in, like being able to be approachable is very key.

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