Sloane Stephens Says 'I Try Every Day to Make' Grandparents 'Proud' After Their Deaths

Sloane Stephens, who recently partnered with Quantum Energy Squares, also tells PEOPLE about moving forward after her Australian Open loss

Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

Within the course of a week earlier this year, Sloane Stephens lost both her grandmother and grandfather. Their sudden deaths came as the tennis star was preparing to compete at the 2021 Australian Open, fueling her drive for success as her grandparents were her biggest fans.

"It has been a devastating time, and my heart goes out to everyone who has experienced loss," the 27-year-old, who spoke with PEOPLE about her partnership with Quantum Energy Squares, says. "My family is everything to me, and we're very close. My grandparents were my no. 1 supporters in everything I do and I try every day to make them proud."

Stephens revealed in January that she'd lost her aunt to COVID-19 just weeks before her grandmother's death after also contracting coronavirus. She announced her grandfather's death a week later.

The athlete's loss made the need for strict coronavirus precautions at the Australian Open even more important to Stephens. The 2017 U.S. Open champion praises the two-week quarantine process designed by Tennis Australia to ensure safety.

sloane stephens
Sloane Stephens. Courtesy Quantum Energy Squares

"The quarantine process was challenging but we were fortunate to be supported and guided by the Australian Government, Tennis Australia, and the WTA Tour," Stephens says, adding, "They worked around the clock to make everything happen. It's very encouraging to see how things are progressing in Australia and I'm hopeful for the future."

Stephens, unfortunately, fell in the first round of the Grand Slam tournament to Varvara Gracheva of Russia. A loss, she admits to PEOPLE, "is always difficult to accept."

Still, she says, "The pandemic has taught me to focus more on what I can control and less on what I cannot. I did all I could to prepare for Australia and I'm looking forward to a long season ahead and getting more matches under my belt."

Part of those keys to success now includes Quantum Energy Squares, plant-based, organic caffeine energy bars.

"As an athlete, I'm very mindful of what I put into my body and aware of what makes me feel good and ready to do my job," she explains to PEOPLE of partnering with the brand. "When the Quantum team explained the science behind the bars and the quality of the ingredients, I felt really comfortable that they were made well in addition to tasting really good. I like being able to read a product label and actually understand and pronounce all the ingredients."

She also loves that the bars are an easy way for her to get energy during training, noting, "I always keep a few bars in my training bag so I'm always properly fueled and can make a smart and easy choice on the go."

sloane stephens
Sloane Stephens. Courtesy Quantum Energy Squares

For now, Stephens will enjoy the rest of her time in Australia before returning back stateside to train for upcoming tournaments.

"It's the beginning of the season, and I am excited for there to be a more consistent tournament schedule and have the opportunities to improve each week," she says.

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