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September 1, 2011

Sloane Stephens


6-1, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What does it mean for you to win and what was the reason you were able to keep things together?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm not sure really. I just know that I told myself this morning when I woke up, I was like, I have to focus and be aggressive and play my game. I think I stuck to that pretty well today and I was really happy with that.

Q. How does this feel different than when you were here two years ago in the juniors?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, definitely. Wow, that's crazy. I still think about that. Like I say, I played on Court 11 when I came back from the funeral and it was crazy. I don't even know how I played.
I woke up. I came back late at night. I woke up the next morning and played second or third match on. It was crazy. Like the emotions and everything was crazy.
For me today was really crazy as well. But it's totally different. Now it's like I'm moving forward in my career. I'm playing pros, not juniors anymore. It's definitely different having so many people out there, playing on Grandstand. It's just awesome.

Q. Have you grown taller in the last year or so?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I want to say I have, but I'm not sure really. I think so. On my driver's license it says I'm 5'8", but I'm not.

Q. Are you surprised by this or did you expect this?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I definitely felt I was ready for this. I knew what I could do. I knew if I stayed positive and focused, I would be able to come out with some good stuff in the end, which I did, so I was proud of that.

Q. 119-mile-an-hour ace.

Q. Is that tops for you in terms of speed?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think so. I think I hit 118 in San Diego. So, yeah, I think that's the fastest. It's pretty good.

Q. Were you completely sure you were challenging? Were you on top of it, the procedure?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I hit the serve. I don't think anyone called it. I don't know who called it. We're just both standing there. I think she thought it was in. I thought it was in. I was kind of like walking back. Did I challenge or she challenged?

Q. You challenged.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I challenged? I think we both thought it was in. So I was like, Okay, challenge. I think the umpire thought it was in, too, because he was like, Challenge.
I don't know. Normally I'm fine with it. The ball could be this far in and I'm still challenging. It doesn't matter.

Q. You got off to a big lead. You could easily get into your head, Oh, my gosh, US Open, big-name player. Obviously things got tight in the second set. What was that like mentally?
SLOANE STEPHENS: It was a battle, definitely. On serve, like it was really close the whole time. Only a few loose points here and there. I thought all in all it was a pretty good match honestly.
It was just a few mistakes here and there. Definitely when she broke me at 5-3, I thought, Oh, man, this is going to be a long night because this is going to be a battle.
I hung in there. At 5-4 I served for it. I kind of got my momentum back. That helped me going forward into the next games.

Q. You seemed to win the first set fairly routinely and then either lose the second set or have a hard time. Is that a mental thing?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think for me it's a mental thing. But I'm working on it. Definitely for me today that was a big step, you know, not necessarily giving up, but staying with it and staying focused was definitely a big thing for me. I think I did that pretty well, so I was happy with that.

Q. It's real early in the tournament. It's been a good start for the young American women.

Q. What is your feeling? Are you feeling like you can go to the top here or you're not so sure, one step at a time?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I'm not thinking about any of that. Now I know for sure when I get home after the season's over I'm getting a car. That's the only thing I'm really looking forward to now.

Q. What about the shoes?
SLOANE STEPHENS: The shoes, that's totally under control. I know for sure now I'm getting a car.

Q. What kind of car?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don't know. That's a big question. My mom wants me to get a truck. I want to get a small car. It's very confusing.

Q. How does a bright girl like you get such a first name?
SLOANE STEPHENS: My parents were driving, I don't know, somewhere. They passed by -- first of all, my name was supposed to be Alexandra. My middle name is Alexandra. One of my mom's really good friends in high school, her name was Sloane.
I guess she really liked it. They were debating whether I was going to be Sloane or Alexandra. Obviously I ended up being Sloane. I don't know how I got it.

Q. That was pretty fortunate. If you were Alexandra Stephens, that would be pretty confusing.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. It's good that -- I'm Sloane, so that's good.

Q. On your forehand, you seemed to wrong-foot a couple times on your running forehand. Do you remember that at all?

Q. Twice.

Q. Yes.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, my God. What were you looking at?

Q. You make almost no noise out there. You're like an anti-grunter. Is that a conscious thing? Did you always play that way? You're very quiet.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, I don't know. I really don't think about it. I just run after the ball and hit it. I guess if some noise comes out, it does. I don't really try to like impose a grunt or whatever.
Like today I was practicing on the P courts. Azarenka was practicing. She grunts really loud in practice even. I was like, Wow. I was thinking, What am I doing? I'm not doing anything. I'm not loud or anything. My coach grunts louder than me.

Q. Nick?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Roger. He gets a little tricky. I got to work on that. Yeah, I got to step it up.

Q. Were you always an aggressive player?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Pretty much, yeah. I like to hit the ball, obviously. I don't know where that came from. But it happens. Comes off pretty hard, I think, sometimes.

Q. What does Venus Williams' example mean to you and what was your reaction when you heard about her illness?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I actually went back home to my hotel to watch her play. When I got back, the caption said, Venus withdraws. I said, Oh, my God, what the heck happened?
I was so distraught, because I really wanted to watch her play. She was playing good the first day. She played great. Then I was just like, Oh.
But I love her. I was kind of sad for her. I hope she gets better soon.

Q. What do you like most about her?
SLOANE STEPHENS: What do I like most about Venus? She's beautiful. I like how she's willing to take risks with her outfits. That's definitely something that most players won't do, so that's a step up.
She's just an awesome person. Everything she's done for the sport of tennis, she's just an amazing person. She's so classy and elegant. That says a lot.

Q. When you read the Americans are in a downtime in terms of tennis, does that create a chip on your shoulder?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No, I don't even think about it. Fun fact. Christina, Irina, and myself are all in the third round of the US Open and playing the PanAm Games together.

Q. She declared yesterday the lull is over.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, we're done. We're ready to go to the top, baby. What's up?

Q. Talk about L.A. Where have you grown up, lived? Do you love it to bits?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, the past couple years we were living in Florida. We just moved back to L.A. It's fine. I practice at UCLA and at Riviera, which are two definitely nice places.
L.A. is an awesome place. I have a little brother, so I try to spend as much time with him as possible. He's been playing baseball.
L.A. gets tricky for us because there's a lot of traffic and I don't like to drive. It's kind of hard. But definitely L.A. and Florida are two different places. It's just what you like basically, what we're in the mood for.

Q. What region of L.A. do you live in?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I live in Bel Aire by UCLA.

Q. At Riviera, who are some of the people you hit with there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Just my coach really. Mardy and Sam go out there a lot. But I don't hit with them obviously because they're like really good. I see them out there a lot.
But mostly just with my coach. Speaking of Alexandra Stevenson, she came out there a couple of times and hit with me. Just, you know, whoever.

Q. Did you move there because of your coach?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. We just needed a change. It was time. My mom was, All right. Let's go. We left and went.

Q. You're buying a car but you don't like to drive?
SLOANE STEPHENS: See, that's where it gets tricky. See, the thing is, I don't like traffic. It's very hard for me to drive in traffic. And my brother is "the" most annoying person to have in the car when you're driving.
Seriously, he'll be like, Why aren't you honking? What are you doing? Get in that lane. I'll be like, Can you stop? I need to focus. He'll be reaching over to honk the horn. It's crazy. He'll have to sit in the backseat when I get the car.

Q. Living near the 405 is bad for someone who doesn't like traffic.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Where we live, it takes us five minutes to get down the hill to Sunset. It takes us 10 minutes to get down from the bottom of the hill where the entrance is to the 405. Just to go anywhere it takes 15 minutes automatically. It's brutal.
The only place I go really is right to Westwood, pick my brother up from school, which is like 10 minutes away. He's 13. He just turned 13 August 4th.

Q. Are you looking forward to getting out there with a Grand Slam former champion?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, it's awesome. I'm really excited actually. She's a really nice girl. Hopefully we'll have a good match. We'll just play some good tennis.

Q. Pete used to live in the Hollywood Hills. Bel Aire, that's a pretty high-rent district. How did you wind up there?
SLOANE STEPHENS: How did we wind up there? We can ask my mom that question because she picked it out. I don't know. I don't know. We just ended up there. It's pretty nice, actually. We like it.

Q. You always are putting out some inspirational and positive sayings. They're geared towards women, relationships. What inspires that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Uhm, I don't know. I just see something, I'm like, Wow, everyone should read this. It's not really like, Oh, I'm like trying to get people to like do certain stuff or anything. It's like, Oh, I saw that. I thought it was cool. I'll post it, whatever, blah, blah, blah.

Q. Do you look for stuff like that?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Not really. I don't ever look for it. It just comes up, someone will send it to me. I'm just like, Copy and paste right on my BlackBerry. Oh, my God, this week I didn't have Internet at all, so I'm just dying. I'm having my friend check email. It's crazy.

Q. What about Ana Ivanovic, former French champion? Talk about her and your prospects.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Awesome player. Awesome girl. We'll have a good match. Maybe we'll be on a bigger court. Maybe we'll be on Armstrong. I've got to work my way up. Today I almost got Ashe by default and I didn't want it.

Q. Are you ready for Ashe?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think you got to work your way up. You just can't get things handed to you. That's not good.

Q. You didn't want Ashe?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I didn't want Ashe. I haven't played on Grandstand. I haven't played on Armstrong. Why would I get Ashe?

Q. Falconi got Ashe.
SLOANE STEPHENS: And she did her thing.

Q. She said, Let's bring it on.
SLOANE STEPHENS: That's what she did. I have mad respect for Irina. That's my homey. I'm really happy for her.

Q. Are you going to have the American flag like Irina does?
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. Everyone has to have their own special thing that they do. So she does the American flag. Hopefully Christina will give us something tomorrow to work with. Then the next day I'll give you guys something.

Q. What effect have Serena and Venus had on you as a person and player?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Awesome players, awesome girls. They changed the sport of tennis. They changed women's sports in general. An inspiration to all women and all girls that play sports.
You know, with Venus gone, that's definitely upsetting. But Serena here dominating again, I think that's really good to have her back and it's awesome for women's sports.

Q. You don't seem intimidated by all this. Doesn't seem to awe you at all. Are you comfortable in your surroundings?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah, I think it's pretty cool, just like talking to normal people. It's not like you guys are a bunch of aliens sitting there and I should be like, Oh, my God, freaking out.
It's definitely fine for me. Should I be scared or something?

Q. A young player coming up, sometimes it can be a little scary stepping out in a big stadium, Flushing Meadows.
SLOANE STEPHENS: No. This is life. If you want to get anywhere, you better be ready for everything. Definitely I'm a people person. I like to talk. You guys have been nice so far, so it's not a big deal.

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