Sloane Stephens won her opening-round clash at the 2023 Italian Open against Nadia Podoroska on Wednesday, May 10.
The Amercian came into the tournament fresh off her title win at the WTA 125K Saint-Malo in France. She dominated her opponent from the start in Rome and closed the match 6-4, 6-1, registering her sixth straight win.
In a post-match interview with the Tennis Channel, interviewer Prakash Amritraj referred to Stephens’ recent tweet about mental health and dealing with loneliness, and asked how she viewed it with respect to tennis players’ lifestyle.
“Our health depends heavily on our connections with one another. The new @Surgeon_General’s Advisory highlights evidence that meaningful relationships are beneficial to our individual and collective health and well-being,” read Stephens’ tweet.
The former World No. 3 believes that tennis, being an individual sport, does get very lonely at times for the players involved. She added that there were many “difficult” aspects to being a professional althlete and that it was important to take care of one’s mental health.
“We tennis players are very alone. It’s a very difficult, lonely sport and I think when we take the human aspect of like, ‘oh, they’re just competing’, ‘they’re just sad’, there are so many elements to being a tennis player and being a professional athlete,” she said.
“I think people don’t actually sit down and take the time to think about their mental health,” she added.
The American is also actively involved in the Sloane Stephens Foundation, which focusses on physical and mental health and education of the under-priviledged.
Sloane Stephens to clash with Victoria Azarenka in R2 of the Italian Open
While the American lifted the WTA 125K Saint-Malo trophy last week, Azarenka won the doubles title in the Madrid Open with Brazailian Beatriz Haddad Maia at the same time.
In the interview, the World No. 36 recalled her previous encounter with Azarenka, noting that the surface will be different in their upcoming match and that she was “excited” to renew their rivalry.
“I played her in Charleston which was good and obviously, green clay to red clay is very different, so I’m excited to get back out there,” she said.
Stephens further added that she felt “good” about her game building up to this year’s French Open.
“I’m just trying to get as many matches before the French [Open] and for this short clay court season, Im very happy with where I am at and obviously I’m just going to go out there and battle and do my best,” she added.
Both players have met eight times on court so far and their head-to-head stands at an even 4-4.