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January 19, 2022

Sloane Stephens

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

E. RADUCANU/S. Stephens

6-0, 2-6, 6-1


THE MODERATOR: Not the result you were hoping for today, but what positives can you take from the match?

SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I think obviously the first match of the year is always tough, a very tough matchup in playing Emma and I think, yeah, I didn't think that I played poorly. I think she just played better today and I think, like I said, it's the first match of the year for me, so I can't be too disappointed.

Q. The first set went very fast. What were you doing to try to get a foothold and sort of slow down her momentum?

SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I think she came out firing. I think we all, everyone saw after the first point she gave like a massive scream. I think it was just her game plan was to come out and be super aggressive and she did that well and obviously when you're playing someone that's playing like that they always tend to settle a bit, so I just had to make sure I didn't get too out of control so I could get some games and then obviously get the second.

So, yeah, I just tried to stay steady. Obviously didn't go the way I wanted. But very up and down match. It could have gone either way, really.

Q. Obviously she's coming four months after winning the US Open. You've been in this situation before. What would you recommend to her to try to block out all the noise, the off-court stuff that happens and can be obviously quite distracting after you win a major title like that?

SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, I would say I, the only same situation is that we won the US Open, but our situations are very different. I think she is carrying a whole country and that's quite different than my win at the US Open.

And I think her game style and her, how young she is, like she is a little bit of a different dynamic than I had, but I think she definitely is just going to have to learn to manage it and figure out what works best for her. Because she is so young it's definitely a long road, so there's going to be a lot of ups and downs and I think she, yeah, has just a lot to learn.

Obviously, on the tour and not being, have played that many tournaments on tour, I think it's definitely a learning experience and a learning curve.

Q. Based on what you saw from the other side of the net today how do you think she's coping with it?

SLOANE STEPHENS: I mean, she played me, someone she's like ranking-wise supposed to beat and, I mean, yeah, she won.

Q. When you made the semifinal here you were 19, kind of the same age as her. Obviously I'm sure you're a much different person now, so I'm curious how you describe 19-year-old Sloane.

SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, very different. I was new on tour also then also and I got Molly Whopped by Vika in the semis. Very interesting match there.

And like I said, a lot to learn. I mean, she hasn't been through much of anything yet, so there will be some definitely some ups and downs and some crazy experiences that happen throughout her years and I think just, this is only the beginning.

Q. You mentioned her visible emotion early and often in this match. You mentioned also just seeing the pressures of her trying to carry a country. What do you see looking at her because it seems like there's real sort of intensity for her in this match not to be seen as maybe losing early after her first slam and I don't know if you sense that had kind of energy from her too and just what you think of the sort of like fish bowl she's been put in.

SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think the hardest part is trying to prove that you are good enough to be where you are or good enough to stay where you are or how you got there. I think that's just, the more you try to do that I think the more emotion shows and the more things probably out of character that you normally would do because you're trying so hard to like show and prove that you're this person or this ranking or whatever it is.

And like I said, I was talking to someone in the locker room and I'm like, We'll be here when she comes down, but not Emma, but just in general. Like, it all is like a cycle and I think learning how to deal with it early on is the best way to handle it just because there's always a lot of ups and downs in tennis.

Q. She won her second Grand Slam she ever played.


Q. I don't think she had ever beaten a former Slam champion before. I don't think she had ever played one before this match here. The order things are going in her career can you imagine what that's like having all that?

SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's kind of backwards. Yeah, it's very backwards and, like I said, it's hard to manage, but I think if you have the right people in your corner and people guiding you, they will know when to take breaks, they will know when to push her harder, and they will know, you know, when she's up for it. So, you know, kudos to them for supporting her and God bless.

Q. Congratulations on getting married. How much was that something that was built into your off-season? Obviously a busy time for you. How much were you able to practice before coming down here, you didn't play a tournament before this, how much did that sort of scheduling make this tournament trickier?

SLOANE STEPHENS: It didn't. I still had a full off-season. When I planned my wedding I wasn't planning oncoming to Australia at all, so it just lucked up that I was able to come. And, yeah, just grateful to be able to come and play, obviously, but I fully planned on skipping here, just because I had a really tough time last year and I just didn't want to be in the same situation and I thought, Hey, like it's just not worth it to me to come and be in another bad situation. So I, when I decided to come it was, I don't know, everyone, I think everyone was a little bit surprised, but, yeah, I just, it was like, I'm ready, I don't have COVID, so I'm going to go.

Q. Were you worried about being in a hard quarantine situation again?

SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I was just worried about being uncomfortable. I think last year I had a very traumatizing experience in quarantine and I just wanted to completely remove myself from that, no matter what, even if it was like two days I didn't want to do it.

So, yeah, a lot of uncertainties, obviously, with coming to a whole other country and trying to figure it out across the world, like I just didn't want to be across the world away from my family and everyone and not have that support, that was like very, that sounded not fun at all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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