Ten Questions with Sloane Stephens

At 21, Sloane Stephens is currently ranked No. 36 in the world and has defeated some of tennis’ biggest names, including WTA Top 5 seeds, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, to become one of the most recognizable American faces in her sport.

Sloane Stephens 2013 Australian Open

(Getty Images)

And she doesn’t plan on slowing down.

Amid her busy schedule of hitting the gym and perfecting her game for the 2015 season, I was recently able to catch up with Sloane—pre-holiday chaos—to chat with her about overcoming obstacles, her goals moving forward and her favorite core moves in the gym.

How do you set yourself apart from the other women you compete against? I do everything I can to stay ahead of the pack. I’m constantly analyzing, training and trying to improve on every aspect of my game. The more complete of a player I can become, the more successful I know I can be on the court.

What is your greatest advantage/strength when on the court? I believe that my greatest strength is my physicality and my will to win.

As a professional athlete what is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome? Managing my own expectations has been a challenge. I am a perfectionist at heart, which in a sport where so much depends on your opponent, can be a challenge at times. I just try to control everything I can, and understand that while perfection is something I can and should always strive for, every situation is going to be slightly different. Managing my expectations is the key to truly enjoying everything I do and is something I continue to work on.

Sloane Stephens, Protein SnacksDo you have any pre-match rituals? I try not to get too caught up in rituals, but as a tennis player sometimes superstitions are hard to avoid. I always make sure I eat enough before a match and tend to mix and drink a packet of the Rev3® Energy Surge Pack, and sneak a few USANA protein snacks—Peanutty Bliss and Fudge Delite are usually my pre-match weapons of choice. I also love listening to music before my matches, finding that it really relaxes me and helps to settle the nerves.

How important is your health when it comes to your success? My health means everything when it comes to my success! Staying healthy is one of the most important factors that goes into any successful career in professional sports.

What are some of your go-to exercises when training? I like to focus my workouts around strengthening my core, legs, and back. I do a lot of work with medicine balls, balance boards, and physio balls, but my four go-to moves are:

Sloane Stephens - Core MovesHamstring Extensions
Movement: Place one foot on ball, and push hips up until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold other leg up and straighten 20 times.
Repetition: 3 sets of 20 reps
Weight: Bodyweight
Muscles Targeted: Core and legs (hamstrings)
Glute Leg Raise
Movement: Body, legs and back must be straight in push-up position. Place one leg on yoga ball to work core and lift the other leg toward the ceiling.
Repetition: 3 sets of 20 each side (Up and down equals 1 rep.)
Weight: Bodyweight
Muscles Targeted: Core, glutes and legs
Side Plank
Movement: Lie on side with knees straight. Prop your upper body up on your elbow and forearm, and raise hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Body and back must be straight. 
Repetition: 2 sets, 2 minutes each side
Weight: Bodyweight
Muscles Targeted: Core
Yoga Ball Monster Walks with Bands
Movement: Place band around thighs and grab with palms of hands. Straighten arms on yoga ball or wall while keeping knees bent and feet about shoulder distance apart. Keep back straight and push out.
Repetition: 3 sets of 20
Weight: Resistance bands and yoga ball
Muscles Targeted: Core, back, legs and shoulders

How does your routine change in the off-season? In the off-season, I lift more and use heavier weights. We don’t get much time off during the season so most of the work I do in the gym is maintenance based. Off-season training is all about building strength, muscle mass and becoming as strong and fit as I can to start off the season right and compete well at the Australian Open.

Pre- and post-match nutrition is a key factor in how you feel. What do your typical meals include? My typical pre-match meals include a lot of plain carbohydrates, like rice and pastas, to keep me fueled during my matches. Post match I have to make sure I get a lot of protein for recovery, so a balanced meal with vegetables, chicken, or egg whites is usually on the menu. I often find that protein shakes are a lot more convenient and effective after long matches and practices, so I also tend to drink a Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal shake.

What are the five key items you have to have in your gym bag at all times? Headphones, water, USANA Protein Snacks, a change of clothes, and some comfortable sandals for after my workout.

Do you have any specific goals you’re aiming for next season? My goal is to kick the 2015 season off with a good and strong start, and then build on momentum when I can to put myself in a position to be amongst the top players in my sport. 

*The mentioned athletes are either distributors or dedicated users who have received compensation for their partnership and/or complimentary USANA products.

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