At the 2017 United States Open Tennis Championships, all eyes are on a young African-American player whose powerful style of play is reminiscent of the Williams sisters. In fact, 24-year-old Sloane Stephens is scheduled for a semifinal match against Venus Williams, a seasoned player who has been her source of inspiration since she picked up racquet as a little girl growing up in California.
Sloane Stephens was born in Plantation, a leafy suburb of Fort Lauderdale, in 1993. She was born into an athletic, middle-class family living in a region of the country that produces tennis, golf and football stars. Her family moved to California when she was in grade school; once she started early skills on the court, the family quickly relocated from Fresno to South Florida so that she could enroll at prestigious academies such as Evert and Nick Saviano’s.
As a junior tennis star, Sloane ranked as high as number four at the Junior US Open and made it to the quarterfinals of the Junior Wimbledon, but she really started coming into her own as as professional player at the 2011 Wimbledon, which she finished with a personal best rank of 12th, thus placing her close to the vaunted Top 100 players in the world.
By late 2012, Sloane was the youngest player in the Top 50; the only teenager to achieve such high ranking in recent decades. It was around this time that she started to focus on bringing strength into her game. Looking to the Williams sisters, she has learned to play with lots of power all over the court. She is the type of player who does not mind staying a few steps behind the baseline during most of the match; her opponents know better than to hit soft volleys at Sloane because she is merciless with her reaction. She is not easily drawn to the net because she has some weaknesses in that regard; nonetheless, she is known to strike back with lots of force even on defensive shots.
By 2016, Sloane had accumulated three WTA titles even though she had fallen quite a few spots from her 2013 rank at number 11 due to injuries. The year 2017 is looking promising for this young player as she takes on the legendary Venus Williams at the equally legendary Arthur Ashe Stadium. In recent months, Sloane has also revealed a stylish side to her as she has posed for photos in fashionable attire that accentuates her striking looks.
As a member of the United States Tennis Team, Sloane represents her country at the Olympic and professional levels. She frequently jets between the USTA center near Los Angeles to the various academies in South Florida.