LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - Rising American Sloane Stephens has taken quite a liking to Wimbledon’s grasscourts - and a local curry house.
After reaching the third round at the All England Club last year the 20-year-old began her second Wimbledon campaign with a display that was too hot for compatriot Jamie Hampton.
The 17th seed’s 6-3 6-3 win underlined her standing as her country’s best woman player - after world number one Serena Williams who begins the defence of her title on Tuesday.
With nutrition a key factor in the life of a tennis professional, Stephens said her Wimbledon village routine centred around a popular local restaurant frequented in the past by the likes of Pete Sampras and Martina Navratilova.
“What do I want to do now? Well, I want to go to Rajdoot before it closes. We need to speed this up,” Stephens, who said she dined out on spicy chicken the night before her match against Hampton, told reporters.
“They like me. It’s been a year and the guy brought out my order on the first day. He was like pineapple juice, chicken tikka masala, and the rice. I was like, yeah, I like them. I‘m not going to venture out.”
Stephens heads a bunch of American women climbing the rankings and offering support to 16-times grand slam champion Williams who she sensationally beat on her way to the semi-finals at this year’s Australian Open.
There are 14 U.S. women in the Wimbledon main draw and Stephens said they all help drive each other on.
“We all want to see each other do well. For Jaime, I‘m really happy for her. She is one of my favourites,” she said.
“It’s always disappointing when you play a slam and end up playing someone from your own country. It’s tough but, like we said, at least someone will win.”
In another all-American clash, Christina McHale beat Alexa Glatch 6-4 6-4. Top seed Williams faces Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella on Tuesday. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris)