NEW YORK, NY, USA - 2017 US Open Champion Sloane Stephens joins the WTA Insider Podcast after a remarkable, incredible, whirlwind fortnight in New York, which saw her win her first major title just five tournaments into her injury comeback. Stephens began the summer hardcourt season ranked outside the Top 900. Off the back of back-to-back semifinals at the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open and her title run in New York, the 24-year-old American will rocket up to No.17 when the new rankings come out on Monday.
That's the stuff of a Disney movie.
Listen to an exhausted but exhilarated Stephens talk about what she expected at the start of the tournament, how she plans to deal with the pressure and expectations that are sure to come, and why she just might have to leave her good friend Madison Keys alone at the bar on Saturday night.
On her fairytale fortnight:
"It's actually unheard of. If I had heard someone else did I would have been like 'They're crazy.' What a journey! Happy that it was me. What a story, what a comeback. I'm just proud of myself for sticking with it, hanging in there, and getting through rehab and walking again and playing again, and just keeping a good attitude through the whole process."
"A lot of things have to go right for you to win a Grand Slam, or any tournament for that matter. You have to have a good attitude, your food has to be right, mentally you have to be tough. Everything situationally has to be good. The last five weeks for me have been very good. I've enjoyed myself, I've been able to eat at my favorite restaurants, go back to places I haven't been in so long. I think it was just a perfect time for me to come back to the game and the perfect time for me to win a Grand Slam, I guess."
On her expectations at the start of her comeback:
"I was just hoping to get back in the Top 100. I was like, man, I'm going to have to play so many tournaments to get back there. I had no expectations. I was just happy to be back on the court, happy to be playing again. There's nothing better. Now, five tournaments in and you win a Grand Slam, it's a game changer."
On potentially becoming, once again, The Next Big Thing:
"I'm not the next big thing, so I don't know what you're talking about. But obviously, a lot comes with winning a Grand Slam, because you were the next big thing five years ago, and two years ago, and now it's now again. I'm an old thing now."
On her fall schedule:
"I did get into all those tournaments at the end of the year with my protected ranking. Maybe, hopefully playing in the Fed Cup final at the end of the year if they pick me, or maybe Zhuhai at the end of the year. Just keep going."
On how she plans to deal with the expectations and pressures ahead:
"Just enjoy it. Try not to get too overwhelmed. Still eat pizza like I've been doing, still get crepes after dinner and go to my favorite places. Keep my life the same. I think last time I was very overwhelmed by the situation but I think now I've learned a lot and I'm in a really good place. I'm just really excited for this next chapter."
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