By Erin Maher
Throughout the 2017 US Open Series season, we’ll take a look at a young American who excelled at the previous week’s event. This week’s rising star is Sloane Stephens, who after an 11-month hiatus due to a foot injury and related surgery, made a stirring run to the semifinals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The Sloane Stephens File
Hometown: Plantation, Fla.
Current Rank: 151
Career-High Rank: 11 (October 2013)
Stephens rocked the tennis world in 2013, when the then 19-year-old upset Serena Williams to reach the Australian Open semifinals. The young American continued to climb the rankings from there, reaching as high as No. 11 in the world, and she represented the U.S. on both the Fed Cup (2012-14) and Olympic (2016) teams.
Last year, the Florida native won three tournaments before a foot injury forced her to withdraw from the US Open Series event in Cincinnati. Stephens had expected to return at the beginning of 2017, but instead had surgery, keeping her sidelined until the summer.
After early exits in her first two tournaments back this summer, at Wimbledon and Washington, D.C., Stephens came roaring back last week at the Rogers Cup. She made light work of the draw in Toronto, advancing to the semifinals behind victories over Yulia Putintseva, No. 14 seed Petra Kvitova and Czech Lucie Safarova.
Her highlight victory came in the third round, when she dispatched No. 3 seed and defending US Open champion Angelique Kerber, 6-2, 6-2. Stephens saved three break points and secured victory in just 58 minutes. Ultimately, Stephens fell to Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals.
Her win launched her ranking, which was No. 934 at the beginning of the tournament, all the way up to No. 151 – and climbing.
Athleticism is in her genes. Stephens’ mother, Sybil Smith, was a swimming star at Boston University, where she became the first African-American female swimmer in NCAA Division I history to be named a First-Team All-American. Stephens’ father, John Stephens, was a first-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in 1988; he ran for more than 3,000 yards over six NFL seasons.