Sloane Stephens – The Major Champion Tennis Desperately Needed
After an unpredictable two weeks in New York, tennis may have, no scratch that, has found its newest star.
And the sport couldn’t ask for anyone better.
On Saturday evening, 24-year-old American Sloane Stephens hoisted the U.S. Open trophy (and knocked the lid off soon afterwards), becoming the first U.S. woman not named Serena or Venus to win a Grand Slam since January 2002. She also became one of the lowest seeded women to ever win a Grand Slam, as Stephens entered the final major of the season ranked 83rd in the world – she’ll be inside the Top 20 on Monday.
But most importantly, she became the personality that the sport of tennis has desperately lacked.
Throughout her magical two-week run to major champion, Stephens has exhibited her charming, funny, easygoing, free-spirited personality both on the court and especially in the post-match interviews.
Her reaction to a bug joining her in a press conference went viral:
Her performance on the court was just as memorable, as she defeated five ranked players, including four inside the Top 16, to claim her first major title. People around the world will be talking about her improbable run, but there were so many moments from Saturday night’s final that exhibited why she is the perfect champion for the sport of tennis.
First was the hug seen around the world. It was by far the most touching, most emotional moment of the tournament. Stephens had just defeated one of her best friends, fellow American Madison Keys, and the two didn’t just shake hands after the final ball was struck, but embraced for nearly 20 seconds:
Then it was the hilarious reaction to finding out just how much money she won for becoming US Open champion (Keys’ interactions with her friend were priceless too):
And finally there were some absolute gems in the press conference after her win, including hearing that she was looking at car reviews the night before on Auto Trader (new sponsor?) and admitting that she probably wasn’t going to graduate on time because she hasn’t done any work in a while… but that some of her professors texted her so maybe they would let the absences slide.
Here’s more from that fantastic press conference:
Q. You come out for your first Slam final and make three unforced errors in the first 13 games and six for the match. Do you think you might be–
Stephens: I made six unforced errors in the whole match?
Stephens: Shut the front door. Oh my god, I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before. Oh my god. That’s a stat. Snaps for me [snapping fingers].
And another reaction to that prize money – she really loves that check:
Sloane Stephens is a star. There’s really no question about it. Six months ago, Stephens was in a wheelchair due to having foot surgery, and was doing commentary for the Tennis Channel. The game was taken away from her for nearly a year, and she admittedly missed it and came back a different person. She was never this personable, this hilarious, and this charming prior to the injury.
She grew up in her time away, and grew into the star that tennis needs during the last two weeks.
In a sport that lacks personality – there’s plenty of bad personalities but not enough good ones – Sloane Stephens just won over a nation, and a sport, by being refreshing and charismatic.
And by having the same expression we’d all have if we won $3.7 million:
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)