BRISBANE, Australia - Sloane Stephens says she has been honored to play against legends of tennis including her compatriots Venus and Serena Williams - and revealed that taking on Li Na was one of the greatest moments of her career so far.
"I think overall like one of the coolest things in my tennis career is I got to play against Li Na - I thought that was like the greatest thing ever," she told reporters before the Brisbane International. "I just happened to be playing in really good years that I got to play against all these people and a lot of people obviously won't. The younger girls that are like 16, 17 now, they'll probably never get to play against Venus and Serena or obviously Li Na and Kim Clijsters, they're all retired now, but I think was just old enough to be able to play against all those girls and then I'll be able to play against a few younger ones - so I think it's kind of cool."
Stephens played the Chinese legend in 2014 in the Madrid Masters Round of 16, taking the first set but eventually falling 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Stephens is looking forward to the possibilities of the new season - and is reasonably pleased with her 2018 performances.
"I wanted to stay healthy for 2018, which I did, I thought, pretty well - obviously there were some bumps and bruises along the way, but I thought that I did really well with that," she said.
"I wanted to play more consistent, which I thought I did really well with that. Obviously some bumps in the road, but I thought that overall I had like a really solid season.
"Obviously trying to back up a Slam win is not easy, and not having played for 11 months [in 2017 following foot surgery], I didn't know what was going to happen. So I think just being able to have a solid season last year, just build on that, and knowing that I can play, obviously, with the top girls in the world, just kind of like believing in myself, and then just keeping it going just one match at a time - obviously winning one match at a time."