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.
First Published On : Jan 23, 2013 10:30 IST