Long time readers of this blog know I am a tennis fanatic. While I love the international flavor of the sport, there have been very few new Americans who look as if they could win majors like the Australian Open, which is currently being played in Melbourne.
However, that all changed last night when I watched 19 year old Sloane Stephens defeat her idol, Serena Williams. Sloane moves as quickly as Serena and matches her power. What she lacks is experience but her quarterfinals match in Melbourne yesterday gave her plenty and hopefully that perspective will help her when plays the Women’s top seed, Victoria Azarenka in the next round.
If you are not familiar with Stephens it may be because she’s so young and has not been a seeded player in a major until now. WTA rankings show Stephens has risen quickly, in ’09 she was ranked 802; in ’10 she was ranked 198; in ’11 she was ranked 97 and last year she was ranked 38. With her win over Serena Williams she is now ranked 25 in the world.
Who can say what Stephens’ future will bring, but I have my eye on this soft spoken young woman with the powerful serve and killer slice return. Her poise while playing Serena Williams is admirable and more than one would expect from a 19-year old. I’ll be cheering from my couch when she plays her next match and watching her all year long. Trust me – you’ll love her game.