Sloane Stephens Story
2nd April 2018: In the sporting arena, winning and losing is an integral part of an individual’s growth and success. To be the best among the bests is certainly not a mean feat to emulate in one’s sporting career.
American Tennis star Sloane Stephens, the 2018 Miami Open title winner has been inspired by legendary stars Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams and Serena Williams ever since her childhood. Her grandfather has been a great influence in Sloane’s life to keep achieving success in life.
Beating Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the World No. 5, in the finals of Miami Open on the 31st of March 2018 in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-1, Sloane Stephens climbed to No.9 World ranking. She maintained the winning streak of never losing in a final to claim the title at the Miami Open 2018. For the first time in her career, Sloane etched her name in the Top 10 Women’s ranking.
2017 was Sloane’s most successful year of her tennis career. She won as many as 5 Singles’ titles and the first ‘Major’ title – the 2017 US Open. In the semi-finals, Sloane defeated Venus Williams, her idol to rout Madison Keyes in the finals in straight sets 6-3, 6-0. At the US Open, Sloane was ranked 83rd.
83rd ranked Sloane Stephens became the lowest ranked player to win the Women’s Singles Title. She joined her idols, the William sisters – Venus and Serena, and Jennifer Capriati to win a Grand Slam. Her amazing comeback in 2017 was duly awarded with the ‘WTA Comeback Player of the Year’. It was a very special and proud moment in the 24-year-young tennis star.
Sloane’s parents were both successful athletes in their own fields. Her father John Stephens was a professional American football player. Mother Sybil Smith, a swimmer at Boston University, was the first African-American female swimmer to be named ‘First Team All-American’ in Division – I history. Shawn Farrell, her younger brother plays baseball and football at Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles.
Sloane was born on the 20th of March 1993 in Plantation, Florida. At a tender age of 9, she was introduced to tennis by her mother and stepfather in Fresco. The family relocated to Boca Raton in Florida two years later. Her interest in the sport was evident. At the renowned Evert Tennis Academy, she commenced her training for a year.
She joined the Nick Saviano High-Performance Tennis Academy. She was making phenomenal progress in her game by spending more time on the court. Sloane switched to home-schooling to concentrate on her life’s goal. In 2011, she graduated from High School.
The Journey of Success:
At 15, Sloane and Mallory Burdette lost in doubles at the 2008 US Open Junior Championship. At the ‘Grade – A Orange Bowl’, she lost in the semi-finals to compatriot Christina McHale. 2008 was a breakthrough year for the teenager. Her loss at the competitive stage increased fervor in her.
She won the singles and doubles titles at the ‘Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships’ in 2009. Mallory Burdette was her doubles’ partner. She won the ‘Grade-A Italian Open’. For the first time, Sloane entered the French Open Junior Grand Slam Championship. It was commendable for the young teenager to reach the semi-finals, losing to the Kristina Mladenovic – the ultimate Champion.
At the 2009 Junior Wimbledon, she progressed to the quarterfinals. She lost once again to Kristina Mladenovic. By August 2009, Sloane was ranked World No. 5 in the Junior Ranking. It was her career-high ranking in the ‘Junior Stage’. She could not progress through the third round at the Junior US Open Championship.
Sloane lost in the quarterfinals at the 2010 Junior Wimbledon Championship. However, partnering with Timea Babos in doubles, they lifted the doubles title in a tough three-setter final. The year 2013 was a very successful year for Sloane Stephens. At the 2013 Australian Open, she went onto defeat Halep, Kristina Mladenovic, Laura Robson and Bojana Jovanovski to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Her opponent at the quarterfinal was none other than her childhood inspiration and tournament favourite, Serena Williams.
Sloane conquered Serena Williams in three sets to reach the semi-finals. It was perhaps the moment of her career. In the semi-final she lost to World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. For making to the semi-finals, Sloane achieved the distinction of high singles ranking of World No. 17. She became the youngest player in the Top 20 ranking. She finished 2013 ranked World No. 11. Sloane was the only woman in Top 30 under the age of 22.
In the beginning of 2016, Sloane won her second WTA title – the ASB Classic at Auckland. She could not progress through the first round of the 2016 Australian Open. At the ‘Abierto Mexicano Telcel’ competition, Sloane lifted her third career title at Acapulco. In August, she had a foot injury, which made her to withdraw from the 2016 US Open.
After recovering from her foot injury, Sloane returned at the 2017 US Open with a protected ranking. She advanced to her first US Open quarterfinal after her first quarterfinal in 2013 Wimbledon. On the way to her first Grand Slam title, Sloane first defeated Roberta Vinci, followed by Dominika Cibulková, Ashleigh Barty, Julia Görges, Anastasija Sevastova, Venus Williams and Madison Keyes in the final.
She achieved a rare distinction by winning the 2017 US Open title. She became the first female American US Open champion, since Lindsay Davenport in 1998, and the first Grand Slam winner, since Jennifer Capriati won the Australian Open in 2002, apart from the William Sisters.
Once you achieve success, individuals tend to lose focus till the next failure. 2018 began with losses to Camila Giorgi in Sydney and Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open. Sloane came back strong at 2018 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells defeating Victoria Azarenka, but lost to Daria Kasatkina. These losses became the wake-up call for the champion in the making.
At the 2018 Miami Open, Sloane Stephens showed a strong character of being a true champion with her spectacular display of talent and will. She went onto to crush the challenges of Ajla Tomljanovic, Monica Niculescu, Garbine Muguruza – the World No. 3, Angelique Kerber – the World No. 10 and Victoria Azarenka – the three-time Miami Open Champion to reach the finals.
In the finals, Sloane met Jelena Ostapenko, the World No. 5 and the current French Open Champion. She conquered Ostapenko in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-1 to lift the 2018 Miami Open title and rise to the career-best World No. 9 ranking.