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Q&A with Create & Cultivate 100 List 2023 Honoree, Sloane Stephens

Q&A with Create & Cultivate 100 List 2023 Honoree, Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens smiling
The tennis trailblazer and investor, entrepreneur, social activist, and philanthropist has been honored by Create & Cultivate in the Sports category

Create & Cultivate, a female-focused media company that provides a platform where female entrepreneurs and professionals can connect, released their 2023 100 List. Sloane Stephens, an American professional tennis player, was a Sports category honoree. Stephens has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world and won the 2017 U.S. Open. Off the court, Stephens is a leader in charitable work. She established the Sloane Stephens Foundation in 2013, which aims to provide opportunities for children to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities to change the narrative around poverty, health inequity, and educational underdevelopment. The Foundation provides tennis lessons six days per week to over 10,000 kids in Compton, California, while also organizing academic tutoring, mental health counseling, and other services. Athletech News (ATN) spoke with Stephens about Create & Cultivate and how she stays balanced and grounded despite her busy schedule.

ATN: Why are organizations like Create & Cultivate important to creating more opportunities for women?

Sloane Stephens: Having supporters and champions is so important, which is where organizations like Create & Cultivate come in. It’s so important to have a place to learn, share resources and be inspired as we’re all working hard and building great things. 

ATN: Who are some of the other Create & Cultivate honorees that inspire you, and why?

Sloane Stephens: So many incredible honorees, I loved reading through the list! I love all things wellness, beauty, and self-care, so I enjoy following the careers of beauty founders like Nyakio Grieco and Diarrha N’Diye-Mbaye and the pivot of Winnie Harlow. I’m also really interested in investing and financial literacy, so it’s great to see what Tiffany James and Tiffany Aliche are doing to empower and educate within the personal finance space. 

ATN: If you had to suggest one piece of advice to a member of the Create & Cultivate community about starting a business, what would it be?

Sloane Stephens: Have confidence in your unique skills and perspective. Take in other peoples’ advice and feedback, but always trust your gut.

ATN: What’s a typical day for you, in terms of balancing training and your off-the-court pursuits?

Sloane Stephens: I live and die by my Google Calendar and Slack. I have to be really disciplined when it comes to balancing everything, and I have a great team I trust to execute while I’m on the court. My schedule depends on whether I’m training or at a tournament, but truly no two days are the same.

ATN: Do you have daily routines or rituals?

Sloane Stephens: Absolutely – with constantly being on the go and adjusting to different time zones and conditions, I’ve developed routines that I can do anywhere to keep grounded. As a professional athlete, routines and rituals are so important to training and performing your best.

ATN: What are some self-care techniques that you’ve developed to stay grounded and focused despite your busy schedule?

Sloane Stephens: I take my skincare routines very seriously! Not only is it important because I’m in a lot of harsh elements every day – sun, sweat, wind, dry planes, etc, but I find it to be a very calming and consistent part of my life on-the-go. No matter where I am, I know that I can take that time for myself once or twice each day to slow down, decompress, and do something good for me.

ATN: What’s something that people might not know about you?

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Sloane Stephens: I’ve pretty much become a professional packer during my career and my friends are always surprised with the new outfits I pull out of my suitcase at the end of long trips. I started a LTK recently to begin sharing these looks and outfit inspo. Give me a follow!

ATN: What inspired the Sloane Stephens Foundation? Are there any student stories that have particularly resonated with you?

Sloane Stephens: I started SSF 10 years ago, which is hard to believe! I knew that tennis can be such an incredible lifelong sport and open up so many opportunities on and off the court, but I also recognized that it can be a sport that’s really difficult to get started in, and I sought out to change that. I’m a big believer in the power of representation, and I want any child to believe that they can play tennis, they can go to college, they can do anything in life, so we try to create those opportunities and pathways. SInce we’ve been operating in Compton since 2015, we’ve developed an amazing pipeline of students who have since graduated and come back to our organization as coaches. That is a really full-circle moment for me and something I’m really proud of.

ATN: Who are your mentors, and how have they helped your career and growth?

Sloane Stephens: I’ve spoken a lot about my mom, and she is my forever hero and mentor. I’ve learned so much from her in all aspects of my life and look up to her. I also love watching her serve as the Executive Director of the Sloane Stephens Foundation because she’s able to bring all of her skills and experience together to further our shared dream.

ATN: What are your goals for 2023? Any tips for working towards one’s goals?

Sloane Stephens: I’m focused on enjoying the process every day and feeling my best. You can’t control external factors, but you can work to optimize your own days and routines to find joy. I recommend taking the time to break down your goals into action items and steps to make it digestible.

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