Sloane Stephens is enjoying being the new it girl of American women's tennis. The 19-year-old beat just beat her idol in tennis Serena Williams, to reach the Australian Open semifinal. Here are a few things you need to know about the next big thing in women's tennis.
- She is the daughter of John Stephens, a pro bowl running back who played for New England from 1988 to 1992, and Sybil Smith, a former All-American swimmer at Boston University, who is a psychologist.
- Her father, John, was named the 1989 National Football League Offensive Rookie of the Year.
- Sloane Stephens was born March 20, 1993.
- She started playing tennis at the age of 9. Growing up in Plantation, Fla., Stephens often rode her bike to a local country club to watch her stepfather, Sheldon Smith, play senior league tennis. Her mother introduced her to the game.
- She became the first American to win the prestigious Italian Open Bonfiglio Championship in Milan, since Gretchen Rush Magers, (now the women’s coach at San Diego City College).
- She turned professional in October 2009.
- Her favorite playing surface is clay.
- In 2010, Sloane won three of the four Junior Grand Slam Doubles titles: the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, with Hungarian partner Timea Babos. She reached the singles quarterfinals at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the semi-finals at the US Open.
- She made her Top 100 debut on 12 September, 2012.
- She is ranked a career-high 25th -- the third highest American, behind Serena and Varvara Lepchenko. But is seven years younger than the 26-year-old Lepchenko, 11 years younger than Serena and 13 years younger than No. 26 Venus Williams.
- She is currently the youngest woman in the WTA top 40.
- She reached the French Open fourth round in 2012 and also made it to the third round of Wimbledon and US Open in 2012.
- Stephens' serve, heavy forehand, athleticism and willingness to finish points at net make her one of the USA's top young prospects.
- Stephens has been coached by South African veteran David Nainkin, who is trying to sharpen her anticipation so she can use her forehand better off the serve to dictate points.
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