We met tennis star Sloane Stephens when she was on Long Island recently. Sloane overcame a terrible ankle injury to win the U.S. Open last year — her first Grand Slam victory. We had a lot of fun talking with her.
What is your favorite drink or food before a tennis match?
I like to drink a lot of water before a match so that I can stay hydrated. After a match I like to have a protein shake so I can get something in my stomach right afterwards. Since I have been running around for a while, I don’t want to get sick, so it is important that I get a snack or protein shake.
What do you like to do when you are not playing or practicing tennis?
I like to relax and hang out with my friends and my family. I like to cook, you know, just normal stuff. I like to shop and go to the mall. I like to read, stuff like that.
Do you play any other sports? If so, why were you drawn to tennis?
I don’t play any other sports, I never ever really did. I am not very good at other sports, either. I am OK at Ping-Pong, but that is about it.
Who has been your hardest and most challenging opponent so far in your career?
I would say Venus Williams. I played her in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and that was the most challenging match ever.
Did you have to give up anything you loved to do to play tennis?
I did. I didn’t get to go to my prom. I didn’t get to go to my high school dances. I missed all of that because I was traveling and in tournaments all around the world. I missed some fun stuff, but I think at the end of the day it was worth it because I am so into tennis and I have had some pretty amazing results, and I have seen almost the entire world. So I think that is a little better than going to a prom.
How much do you work out and practice? What kinds of things do you do?
I work out like four hours a day. It’s two hours in the gym and two hours on the court. I try to stay in shape by going to the gym and doing all sorts of exercises and preventative stuff so I don’t get hurt. I then practice on the court with my coach, and my coach has me working on different things.
Before you knew you wanted to be tennis player, what was it that you dreamed of being?
I don’t know! I think being a lawyer or teacher would have been cool.
Is there anything that you like to cook?
I like to make macaroni and cheese — that is my favorite thing to make and eat. I am a cheese-lover.
What is your favorite color?
Did your parents agree with your choice to play tennis?
My mom definitely agreed with my career choice. She always wanted me to be a tennis player. The one thing she did ask me to do was go to college and get my degree, which I did. I graduated this past December. That is the only request she had for me, and I fulfilled it!
Do you have different rackets for different purposes such as a practice racket?
No, always use the same racket, same strings, same grip — same everything. I just restring it for a new match or sometimes for a practice.
Are you ever nervous during a match?
I would never say during a match, but before I am. When I walk on the court I have a lot of nervous energy. I can’t wait to get out there and play.
Did you go through any hardship through any point of your life?
Yes, I have gone through a few, but I think with a good support team and system and family, you can get through anything. As long as you have good people to lean on, you will probably be fine.
Amy Brown’s fourth-grade class, Cutchogue East Elementary School