Sloane Stephens Reveals Her Story Of Personal Growth With ‘Sincerely Sloane’

Courtesy of SpringHill/UNITERRUPTED

As an Olympian, world-class tennis player and Grand Slam Champion, Sloane Stephens has long been a star of her sport. Now, she’s heading into the podcasting arena with a new audio series titled Sincerely Sloane. Produced by UNINTERRUPTED, the show gives listeners an insider’s look into the multi-faceted athlete’s life, as well as some of the narratives and perspectives that has aided her along the journey to success.

On Sincerely Sloane, the host will be joined by athletes, entertainers, and experts for light-hearted and honest conversations. They share untold stories, deep insights, and individual approaches for living a life of purpose and fulfillment. Notable figures such as Taylor Rooks, Sydney Carter, Cari Champion, Malika Andews, Monica McNutt, and Misty Copeland–just to name a few–all make appearances as a guest during the show’s inaugural run. For Stephens, this podcast is cathartic in more ways than one. She’s still heavily dedicated to her tennis career, and her new series unveils another side of the 2017 US Open Winner. 

“I’m at a place in my life and in my tennis career where I have experienced a lot, both incredible highs and very trying lows, and I’ve done a lot of inner work to reflect on those times and process everything,” she explains. “People might be familiar with some of those public-facing moments, but I share things on this podcast that listeners will learn for the first time. As I’ve gone on my own journey, I became really curious about how other people cope, process, and show up as their best in their own unique circumstances – and I wanted to ask them for myself.”

While Sloane is second-to-none as a competitor, she also has an undeniable impact off the court. The 30-year-old is an investor, social activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Through her eponymous foundation, she has served over 15,000 youth through programs across the country, giving so many children the knowledge and tools to create a better future for both themselves and the communities around them. These endeavors, along with the other layers that exist within Sloane’s life will be on display during her weekly discussions on her new podcast.

In celebration of Sincerely Sloane’s first episode, Stephens spoke with ESSENCE about why she decided to enter the audio space, show preparation, embracing life’s challenges, and much more.

ESSENCE: Why do you feel that now was the perfect time to embark on your journey into the podcasting space?

Sloane Stephens: So many times in my life, I’ve felt like two separate people – the tennis player Sloane on display and the real person Sloane. I’ve recently called out that duality and sought to reconcile the two so I can live more peacefully and fully as one. I feel this confidence and calmness is shining through. There’s only so much that a picture or a post can express, and I felt ready to take the leap to share more of myself in this format and hopefully create a space where other people could feel safe to share their vulnerabilities and inner-most dialogues. 

I have so many passions and interests outside of tennis, and I’ve worked really hard to find ways to tap into those creative outlets and find enjoyment. Any time I do an AMA on social media, people ask me when I’ll do more longform content or start a podcast, so I decided to give the people what they want and take the leap.

What sparked the idea for the creation of Sincerely, Sloane?

What the listeners will hear on the podcast is very much who I am in my daily life. I love meeting new people and learning the most random and interesting things about them. At tournaments I’m always the person talking to the transport drivers and the physios and by the end of the week I’ll know their life story and they’ll text me pictures from their kids’ birthday parties. 

When I came up with the idea for Sincerely, Sloane and pitched it to UNINTERRUPTED, I explained it as a peek into the conversations that you’d have with your closest friends or at the salon when you’re there getting your hair braided for six hours. We get deep, and we get there quickly, but we also laugh.

I love self-care and am always trying new products and recommending them to my friends. These routines have become incredibly important to me both physically and mentally.  Because I travel 10 months out of the year, I’m very particular about what makes it into my luggage because I’ll have to lug it around for months at a time–it better work! As I work on my own ways to show up in that space, I wanted to offer listeners a virtual peek into the toiletry kits and cabinets of their favorite athletes, entertainers, and public figures. Before they go out and give that speech or play that game, what products are they using? What can’t they wait to do on an off day? I wanted to know this for myself and thought listeners would too! 

Why was UNINTERRUPTED the perfect fit for this audio series?

UNINTERRUPTED sits at the intersection of sports and culture in a way that makes talent feel very comfortable sharing their stories and tapping into different parts of themselves. As this is a completely new lane for me, it was comforting to work with a company that I’ve partnered with successfully in the past and have more planned for the future.

As a high-level athlete, you have to be very intentional and disciplined in your training. Tell me, what was the process like for Sincerely, Sloane, and how do you prep for each episode?

It was a journey! I’ve carried my recording equipment backpack across multiple continents at this point. I learned so much during this process and drew on what I’ve seen from so many incredible interviewers and journalists I greatly admire, some of whom I got to interview on this show. The most important things I found were to create a welcoming environment and then to deeply listen. For each episode, my team and I would do a deep dive on the guests, even the ones we knew really well, and we listened to what they’ve already shared and tried to craft show notes that took things in a slightly different direction based on my experiences and ways to connect with theirs. From there, it was all about listening and seeing where they led us! We always bring it back to the self-care rapid fire questions at the end, which I thought was a fun thread of continuity throughout so many diverse interviews—the answers are just too good!

This season, you’ll have a wide range of guests—what went into the decisions of who to reach out to, and the guests you wanted to speak with on Sincerely, Sloane?

Some of my guests I’ve known for years, or in the case of my mom literally my entire life, but other guests I’ve followed from afar and wanted to have a reason to slide into their DMs. We wanted to have a diverse group of guests who all shared an element of being “one of one” or “one of a few” in their respective journeys and careers. I also wanted to shift the paradigms a bit about the types of conversations people would expect athletes to have with other athletes, or what an athlete would discuss with an entertainer or government official. There is so much to the human experience and everyone’s roads to success that I wanted to shine a light on some of the guests’ different facets.

How has Sloane Stephens learned to embrace life’s challenges?

As a former coach once told me, “It’s not if, it’s when.” We can’t always control the timing or the circumstances, but we can work hard in knowing we’re trying our best each day and chipping away.

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