Sloane Stephens Makes Sports Illustrated Cover
September 18th has measured up to be a great day for Sloane Stephens. Her regional Sports Illustrated cover hits newsstands and shows exactly what mountains, on and off the court, she’s had to climb to success. While Stephens proclaimed September 9, 2017, “the best day ever” after her victory at the U.S. Open, SI’s S.L. Price has shown that Sloane Stephens has no doubt ridden into an era of dominance initiated by Venus and Serena.
Years in the making, Sloane’s story highlights her road to tennis royalty. She began her professional career in 2007. Her first ITF tournament win came in Italy in 2011 at the Camparini Gioielli Cup where she defeated Anastasiya Yokimova. With other WTA entries under her belt including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, she ended 2011 ranked #97 in the world. The following year was no disappointment as she played multiple tournaments including Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Miami Masters and wrapped up 2012 in the top 50.
Stephen’s has had her share of setbacks both on and off the court. At the young age of sixteen, she lost her father in a car accident–just a few days before she played the U.S. Open. After having several highs in 2013, she was plagued by several years of inconsistent wins and losses putting her rise as a world tennis champ in question. Perhaps what would have been the final straw for many athletes, Stephens suffered a painful stress fracture after her first Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Lucky for her and tennis fans around the world, Sloane Stephens has battled back! With the support of her coach Kamau Murray, who she trains with in Los Angeles, Stephens was able to recover from surgery involving grafting new bone to her hard to heal stress fracture. Grit and determination helped her to get back on the court after eleven months of pain and twelve weeks of immobility.
Fast forward to the U.S. Open 2017 and two American women were in the finals. Sloane Stephens defeated fifteenth seed Madison Keys in a match where she was not expected to have an easy anything. Instead, Stephens become the first person since Chris Evert in 1976 to win a women’s U.S. Open match with a set of 6-0 (ESPN Stats Info).
What a remarkable accomplishment for Stephens! She said it best in an ESPN interview, “It’s incredible. I had surgery January 23rd, and I’ve had an incredible journey. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” After ranking near 1,000 at the turn of the year, the U.S. Open champion has come up to an international ranking of #17.
Sloane Stephens has made possibly one of the best tennis come-ups of the year. With her first major title victory under her belt, where does Sloane Stephens go from here? We’ll be watching the courts as she flashes that gorgeous smile and dazzles us with her impressive talent with racket and 2017 U.S. Open title in hand.
Look out for more Sloane Stephens updates from Hers Magazine.