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August 30, 2013

Sloane Stephens


S. STEPHENS/J. Hampton
6‑1, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Against Jamie, if you can remember that long ago today, you were like a totally different player than the first match.  Was that a matter of you got the nerves out of the way and now you're feeling more comfortable?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I think once I got the first match out of the way, I was feeling a lot better.  Played well in my second match.  Feeling good.  And played well in my singles today, so it was good.

Q.  We know Serena hasn't played yet, but what would you look forward to most if you play her Sunday?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think it will be a great match obviously if we do play.  We'll probably play on Ashe.
You know, it's something I think everyone is looking forward to, so...

Q.  Are you looking forward to it?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Of course.  As I always say, I think it will be epic.  I'm really looking forward to it.  See what happens.

Q.  What is the key to playing her?  When you do well against her, what do you do well?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I play my game and I focus on myself.  Just try to stay focused.  That's all you can really do.

Q.  You played Serena in the first slam and now potentially in the last slam.  Talk about those bookends for your season sort of in terms of how you've played and all the things you've learned.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, it's definitely been a learning experience from January till now.  I think I've had, you know, a lot of learning experiences.  I've had a great year.  I'm really pleased with the way it's gone.
Obviously it's the last slam of the year.  You want to do as best you can.  All you can do is go out there and do your best.  Obviously, that's it:  just go out and play hard, just see what happens.

Q.  If you could do one thing different during the year between January and now, what would that be?

Q.  Wouldn't do anything differently?

Q.¬† What do you think you learned from the back‑and‑forth‑with‑Serena brouhaha that occurred after Australia?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Stay true to yourself, and that's all you can do.  A lot of lessons learned.  I don't regret anything and I'm happy where I'm at right now.

Q.  Where does your relationship stand with Serena?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Obviously we're coworkers, we're Fed Cup teammates.  But other than that, everything else is private.  It's fine.

Q.  You're a very young player.  Are you surprised all you're dealing with at your young age?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I've obviously learned a lot of lessons early.  It's been tough, but I worked through them well.
I'm happy where I'm at.

Q.  You said, considering how you're playing now.  You talked a couple times how this was a learning experience, this season.  What specifically did you learn?
SLOANE STEPHENS:¬† I mean, everything just from playing tournaments I haven't played before, going places, learning rules about the WTA, learning things I didn't know, learning things about anti‑doping.
I mean, everything.  Ball changes.  How you can play with one ball one week, the next a different one.  Things that you probably wouldn't even know, but to me it's like, Oh, yeah, I knew that in the back of my head.
Not anything drastic or anything that's dramatic, but just little things.

Q.  How much better a player are you now than you were in January?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I've improved a lot.

Q.  Anything specific?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I mean, no.  Just in general, overall, I just improved on everything.  Tried to touch on everything.  Tried to stay mostly consistent with my improvement.

Q.  Serena, when she's been asked about you, has been very effusive talking about how when she lost at Wimbledon she picked you to win.  When she talked about the US Open favorites, she named you.  What do you make of all the praise you've gotten from her in the last few months?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Awesome.  Coming from one of the greatest players to ever play the game, that feels really good.  I think it's awesome.
But other than that, I really kind‑‑ if you don't really live up to it, it's a wash.

Q.  Do you feel pressure from that?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  No.  I think she wants the best from me and I appreciate that.

Q.  You referred to yourselves as coworkers.  Were you at one point more than that, or did we, the media, make you out to be more than you were?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think that's all old news now and we've moved on.  We're fine, so I think that's all that matters.

Q.  You used the phrase 'coworkers.'  That's a clinical way of putting it.  In your heart, what is your take on Serena Williams?  What do you think of her as a player and a person?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Love her.  She's a great competitor, one of the best players to ever play the game I like I said, coworker, teammate.  I mean, there is not much else you can say.  Just praise her.
I mean, that's it.  The she's one of the greatest players to ever play the sport of tennis.  That's it.

Q.  Talking about the revolution of the racquets through the decades, how important are they and how do you choose yours?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I play with what feels good.  To be honest, I don't know much about racquets.  I just know what I play with makes me play great.

Q.  Is it hard to have friends on the tour?  Are your friends mostly not tennis players?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I think it's tough to have friends on tour, but I don't lack in the social department.  I have some good friends.  That's not an area that I struggle in.

Q.  When you watch Serena play, not necessarily across the net from you, what are the things that you admire most about what she does on the tennis court?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I just love how she's so competitive.  She's going to bring it to you every single time.  I love her fight.  It's just nice to get out there and watch her.

Q.  When you play against her, what do you consider the most challenging aspects of her game?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Like I said, she's a fierce competitor.  Obviously she's No.1 in the world for a reason.  She's very aggressive.  She stays on top you of you.  Doesn't give you any room to breathe.  She's intense.  She knows what she wants to do out there.  That's why she's No.1 in the world.

Q.  You played her twice in January.  You talked about getting a chance to feel and absorb her power.  How important is it also to have been able to feel her court presence, her intimidation?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, I mean, every person is different.  I think she has a very strong presence in general.  I think just being on the court with her, people obviously in their life wish they would be able to play against Serena Williams, and I've had the chance to.
It was very important for me the first time to just even get out there and be like, Okay, it's not as scary as I thought it would be.
I think being able to have played her a couple times before, I'm excited to get back out there.

Q.  How good a competitor do you think you are?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I think I'm a great competitor.  I've come out of a lot of tough situations, a lot of ugly ones, even in the first round.
That's what I've worked on a lot this year:  staying in matches, being able to fight, really digging deep.  I think that's helped me a lot this year.

Q.  Going out, being on Ashe, Labor Day weekend, a lot of hype going into this match.  What do you need to do to go out there and perform at a level that would make you satisfied?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Just focus on myself.  Play my game.  I've been playing well.  I mean, it's the last slam of the year, playing at home, Labor Day weekend, like you said.  My family is here.
I'm 20 years old playing, like you said, Labor Day weekend in New York, my favorite city.  Just going to go out and have fun.

Q.  Still so young, but can you imagine winning this tennis tournament?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I could.  But, like you said, I'm young, so we'll see.

Q.  You made it to the second week of all four slams this year.  You're one of only two so far, and Serena if she makes it tonight.  Having that kind of consistency at the big events is pretty remarkable.
SLOANE STEPHENS:  It's been awesome.  I played really well at the slams this year.  I'm pleased with my results.  I think it's awesome.  A pretty good stat.

Q.  Obviously you raise your game, but do you do something tactically or technically different in the slams that's allowed you to be so successful when the competition is better, the stakes are higher?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  I don't know.  I guess the Grand Slams it's just showtime, I guess.  What can you do?

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