2017 U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens reveals her go-to items while playing, traveling and training

To become a Grand Slam champion, it takes practice, hard work, dedication – and a few staple items to keep you fresh and ready. 

Sloane Stephens quickly became America's darling in 2017 when she defeated her countrywoman Madison Keys to win the U.S. Open, her first major, in dramatic fashion. Stephens had entered the U.S. Open ranked No. 83 that year and was named the WTA Comeback Player of the Year after finishing the season ranked No. 13.

What many people don't recall is that Stephens, previously largely unknown, was fighting an injury just ahead of her major win. The U.S. Open was only her fifth tournament back after a lagging injury in her left foot was later diagnosed as a stress fracture.

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Naturally, Stephens takes her training, recovery and self-care seriously in hopes of avoiding another setback.

Ahead of the U.S. Open beginning in August, Stephens says she spends plenty of time at the gym (especially on the rowing machine, her favorite workout) and uses her top essentials: Biofreeze, TheraBand resistance bands and, of course, headbands. 

A difficult aspect of tennis that Stephens says many fans might not appreciate is the transition from clay to grass courts, like those famously seen at Wimbledon. That sudden and stark change can be tough on athletes' bodies. Stephens says her knees, especially, experience pain and stiffness.

"If I don't take care of my body by properly warming up, recovering right and using my go-to Biofreeze, especially those first few days of the grass-court season, I'm in trouble," she told AOL Sports. 

Self-care while traveling to competitions is also a priority. Stephens says she generally keeps her beauty routine simple, but always uses plenty of sunblock, plus a vitamin C cleanser and tons of moisturizer after a match. 

"Playing tennis, you're constantly traveling, so I like to bring things to make it feel more like home," she continued. "I love having my diffuser and essential oils with me. I'll turn that on and put on a good clay mask and call it a night."

Ahead of the 2019 U.S. Open, Stephens is, of course, playing plenty of tennis, but also taking time to keep herself relaxed and chilled out.

"There is always so much going on," she said. "If I don't make time to take care of myself, I won't have the energy I need on the court."

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