From January through October of every year, tennis star Sloane Stephens is in a different city competing. Based out of Florida, she visits her mother in Los Angeles as often as she can — and also checks in on the Sloane Stephens Foundation, which utilizes education and tennis to uplift vulnerable children. “I honestly don’t remember where exactly (my first tennis tournament was), but I do remember that I had a lot of fun and met friends that I grew close to and continued to see at tournaments,” Sloane said from Paris, where she was competing in the French Open. “That positive first experience with tennis is why I stuck with it. That is the type of environment we create with the kids at the Sloane Stephens Foundation. We give you all the tools to take tennis as far as you want, but the most important thing is that you are finding a pathway to be healthy, happy and have a positive experience.” Stephens — who serves on the WTA Players’ Council — stays in touch with fans on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sloanestephens/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/SloaneStephens) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Sloaneposts).
For more information about her foundation, check out her website (https://sloanestephens.com/).
Q: Do you play tennis when you’re not training?
A: The tennis season is almost year-round, and the off-season is the only month-long training block we have all year. So, when I am actually on vacation for a few days, I focus on recovery and quality time with my family.
Q: How have you dealt with this pandemic?
A: At the beginning, I quarantined in Florida with my fiance. We built a full gym in our garage and were total homebodies for the first time in our adult lives. During the November to December off-season, I trained in Los Angeles and took drives up and down the coast for a change of scenery.
Q: If you had travel plans for 2020 and 2021 and had to cancel, where were they to?
A: Trinidad! I’m a quarter Trini and have always wanted to go to Trinidad and connect with that part of my heritage. I was planning on going to Carnival in 2020. I even had my outfits picked out and everything! So, we’ll definitely need to reschedule that trip and turn up.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: Mykonos. It is the cutest romantic getaway. The shopping is amazing and the food is unreal. The best plan is to not plan — just take time to walk the streets and pop into all the little shops as you go. It’s such a fun and chill experience.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: Maui. I went with my grandparents and absolutely loved it. I mean, what’s not to love about Maui? I’ve gone back with them every Thanksgiving for 22 years, so it’s been a special place throughout my entire life. I’m so happy I will have those memories forever. (Thanksgiving) is the only true off-season time I get all year and I soak up every minute. We do a lot of golfing, biking, horseback riding and water sports.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: I’m pretty much a professional packer at this point in my career since I’m away for months at a time, so I am meticulous about organizing. My carry-on and tennis bag are always fully stocked with Hydrant packets — I love the lemonade flavor — and Quantum Energy Squares. I’m an investor in both companies and use the products every day. Aside from those essentials, it’s all about the self-care items to help me feel calm and comfortable no matter where I am. I carry various doTERRA Essential Oils with me and make custom blends depending on my mood. I am a total beauty junkie and am always testing out different products. Some current favorites are Sunday Riley CEO Glow and Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A: To be kind. No matter the language, the religion, the culture, at the end of the day people are really trying to do the best they can. You never know what part of someone’s journey you’re meeting them on, so I always try to be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Q: If you could only pick one place to eat, would you choose a street cart or fine dining?
A: Food truck all day! I own a barbecue and seafood truck in Ft. Lauderdale called Gold Soul. If you’re in the area, tell them Sloane sent you. We arranged for the truck to pull up at this year’s Miami Open and I loved seeing my tennis world and my business world collide like that.
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: Paris, Mykonos, Barcelona, Toronto, Jackson Hole.
Q: What would be your dream trip?
A: Bora Bora!
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)