Sloane Stephens: Here To Stay

This year’s semi-finals of tennis’ U.S. Open there is a lot of “black girl magic.” Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams, who, along with CoCo Vandeweghe, are the four American women to reach the 2017 US Open quarterfinals. This is the first time in US Open history that three African-American women have reached the quarterfinals of the last Grand Slam event of the season.

Twenty-four year old Stephens started to get major buzz in 2013, when at 19 she beat Serena Williams to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open and made a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals during the summer. Stephens has beaten Venus Williams in their only encounter to date, 7-6(5), 6-1 in the first round of Roland Garros in 2015. Stephens would go on to reach the fourth round. And just now, she won against Venus Williams in the 2017 U.S. Open semi-finals and will go on to face Madison Keys in the Finals.

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Sloane comes from a very athletic family. Her mother, Sybil Smith, was an All-American swimmer at Boston University; her father, NFL running back, John Stephens. Sloane took up tennis at age nine, just to occupy herself while her mother played tennis with friends. After turning pro in 2009, Sloane capped a successful junior tennis career, ultimately winning the junior French, Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles in 2010. A year later (at the age of 18) she became the youngest player in the Top 100. Known for her powerful forehand, Sloane has had successful runs in the Grand Slams—reaching the semifinals at Australia (2013), the quarters at Wimbledon (2013) and the fourth round of the French and US Opens and she has won three professional tournaments.

After all the initial fame, life happened. Stephens’ 86-year-old grandmother (who she calls her best friend) took ill, was dying but eventually pulled through, leaving Stephens with time away from her matches and stress. After that ordeal, Sloane suffered a stress fracture in her left foot near the ankle, an injury that kept her out for 11 months of healing after surgery and rehabilitation.

“It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “But I think once I kind of bought into that light, it’s been good since then.”

Stephens began to grow into her own and seemed to have found her rhythm that she carried on tour with her every match. “I keep everything simple and low-key. I keep the routines the same, keep family the same, life the same, home the same. Once you have that consistent process, it helps a lot.”

After losing the first two matches when she returned from her injury, she has played the best tennis of her career, winning 13 of her last 15 matches, all against top-50 opponents.

“There’s so many good things that can come out of life, and I think once you realize that, life’s good. It just takes away all the stress.”

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What keeps Stephens fueled away from home is to have familiar treats and snacks everywhere she goes. Here’s what she likes the most.

Jem Superberry Maqui Camo and Cinnamon Red Maca
Cinnamon Red Maca is a nice treat mixed in my favorite smoothie or with yogurt and fruit.

Blue Diamond Almonds
“Almonds are great in the airport, in the hotel, in a taxi…anywhere you need a healthy snack.”

USANA Nutrimeal
“USANA Nutrimeal is a great supplement at any time of the day. You never know when you’ll need something to tide you over. Nutrimeal is gentle and filling.”

Fresh Pineapple
“For me, pineapple goes with everything. You can’t eat too much but it’s the perfect addition to a smoothie or as a quick fruity snack.”

Greek Yogurt with Honey and Granola
“One of my favorite go-to snacks all day long.”

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