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September 1, 2013

Sloane Stephens


S. WILLIAMS/S. Stephens
6‑4, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  How do you feel about your play?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I thought I played good.  There were times I played some really good tennis.  Yeah, I thought I played pretty solid.  Second set got away from me a little bit, but overall I thought I played great.

Q.  What was the difference in your mind?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, obviously she's No.1 in the world for a reason.  I thought she played really well herself.  Obviously it didn't go how I wanted.  The second set got away from me a little bit.
All in all I thought I competed well and played well.  That's all you can do really.

Q.  What do you think you need to do to get to the next level?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Just keep improving, keep getting better, working hard.  Obviously I'm at a pretty good point right now.  Obviously I want to keep getting better.
Just little things I can do to keep improving to get to the next level.

Q.  Do you feel you need to be or want to be any stronger?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Stronger as in like?

Q.  Physically.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, not really.  I think I'm pretty strong as it is.  I think when I lift too much or try to add on too much weight I feel heavy, so not so good for me.

Q.  Were you impressed by her defense particularly?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I thought she did a lot of things really well.  Like I said, she's No.1 in the world for a reason.
All in all I thought she played great.

Q.  There is your rivalry, but let's talk about the real rivalry:  Nike versus Under Armour.  You're probably Under Armour's highest profile athlete.  Did Nike make an attempt to sign you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, no.  I've been with Under Armour for a while now.  I mean, I love Under Armour.  Tom Brady is probably the highest profile athlete they have (laughter).

Q.  Phil Knight didn't say, Sloane, come on over and join us?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't know.  I've been with Under Armour for a long time.  I love them.  I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

Q.  Can you assess where you were last year and how your game has changed.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  This time last year I lost third round to Ivanovic.  I couldn't play the rest of the season.  So this tournament until December of last year, I played no tournaments.  I had done nothing.
This year, I plan on playing four more tournaments.  I'm going to try and break the top 10 at the end of this season.  I think that's a big jump from where I was last year kind of around 40 and kind of lingering.
I think this year has been a pretty good year for me.  I'm going to try to end it with a bang.

Q.  You looked incredibly calm, almost detached out there.  Is that something you work on?  Is it difficult to keep that really cool, poised attitude?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I think that's just how I kind of learn to process things.  When I'm on the court I don't want to get too up or too down.  I want to stay cool.  Sometimes it's really good; sometimes it's not so good, because you need that extra little bump.
I think it's just something that I've learned how to deal with my emotions like that and it helps me.

Q.  Can you see yourself fist pumping or screaming at some point?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean maybe.  I mean, things happen.  I don't know.  Maybe one day.

Q.  You said you're going for the top 10.  Do you feel you also need a certain amount of patience to develop in due time?  You're only 20.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, definitely.  But I have a chance to break the top 10 at the end of the year.  I'm 200 points away from it.  I have no points to defend.  I'm playing five tournaments.  I think I have a pretty good shot.  If I don't make that, then shame on me.
All's I can do is give 100%.  As time goes on, you develop.  Everything happens in its own time.  I never rush anything in my career.  Now I have a goal, and I want to reach that.

Q.  You're the youngest in the 16 that were left.  Does that mean anything to you?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No, not really.  There's a lot of things.  You're the youngest person left in the draw, you're the oldest, whatever.  There's going to be someone before me and there's going to be someone after me.  You know, it's nice but we move on.

Q.  You've been talked about as the heir apparent to Serena.  What is your reaction to that?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I embrace it.  I think it's tough because there's a lot of us.  I think just because I'm top 20 now, I mean, next year there could be three other American girls in the top 20.  It just depends.
Right now I'm carrying the little torch.  But I'm okay with it.  I embrace it for now.

Q.¬† In the entire first set and a half, the intensity and confidence and focus that you had with Serena was matched like 100%.¬† Did you notice the moment that intensity changed?¬† Seemed like right at 3‑1 Serena relaxed a little.¬† I didn't know if that changed your focus towards the game.¬† Did you feel it?¬† Did it affect you, that intensity change?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† No.¬† I think when you get broken at 2‑1 to go down 3‑1 and the person is serving to go up 4‑1, I think they're going to be pretty relaxed.¬† I think she had some bomb first serves.¬† I lost serve.¬† That kind of threw me off.
But I think having Serena serve at 3‑1 up in the second is not ideal.¬† I think when you give her that opportunity, you know, to take that step forward, she definitely makes her move.
Unfortunately today she made her move.  I just couldn't get back in the second.

Q.  Is there any part of you that wishes you could be on the opposite side of the draw from her in a major, that you weren't constantly placed as such in draws where there she is?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, it's tough.  But everyone has their time to shine.  I think she's obviously No.1 in the world for a reason.  She's earned every opportunity she's gotten.  I think she makes the most out of every time she's on the court.
Maybe one day when she's not playing people would be, Maybe I wish I wasn't on the same side as Sloane.
Things happen in their time.  It's an honor to be able to play on the court with one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Q.  A year from now when you come back to the US Open, where do you want to be?  Where do you want to be a year from now?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I'm taking one step at a time.  I'm worried about the next four tournaments of the year.  At the end of the year I'll assess and see, I want to do this, I want to do that, I want to do the next thing.
Until then, I know that I want to keep improving and I want to keep getting better.  But I'm just going to, you know, take little steps and see how it goes.  I want to finish out this year strong and regroup.

Q.  You always show up at the slams, but not at the smaller tournaments.  Would you agree with that statement?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Like I said, there's no formula to playing great at a slam.  It happens.  I mean, I don't have a reason.  I don't know.
But I'd rather be able to play great tennis at a slam than make eight finals of little tournaments and then lose first round of a slam.  That doesn't sound too good.

Q.  Are you going to play mixed doubles with Jack Sock?  You two were simply adorable.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Uhm, I messed it up so badly.  I played so bad (smiling).
But maybe.  I don't know.  We'll try and play in Australia and we'll see from there.  I messed that one up, so...

Q.  Are you interested in watching this match again?  Would you watch a replay of this match to pick up something?  Once the match is over, do you move on?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I definitely will watch it again.¬† When I'm sitting at home in the off‑season and I don't have anything to do I watch tennis on my computer.¬† It's kind of boring.¬† It's something to do.
You learn the most from your losses, so I'll definitely watch it again.

Q.  Coming in here you were a little bit worried.  Now that you've been through it, what's your takeaway?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It wasn't that bad.  I thought it would be really stressful, really overwhelming, uncomfortable.  It wasn't.  It was fun.  I had a lot of fun.  I enjoyed myself.
I got to play on Ashe three times.  I thought that was pretty amazing.  I think when you just relax and have fun everything's enjoyable.  I had a really good week and a little bit here in New York.  I wouldn't trade this week for anything.

Q.  Do you and Sock share an agent?  He's a big American Express guy, too.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  You have had the most random questions.
No, we don't.  But we're on the same American Express campaign, but, no, we don't.

Q.  Off topic, the U.S. postal office just issued a commemorative stamp for Althea Gibson.  As a black tennis player, do you still face stigma?

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