Sloane Stephens was born to be a professional athlete. It’s in the genes.
Born to extremely athletic parents, Sloane began playing tennis at age 9 thanks to her mother. It became evident early on she had special abilities.
Within 2 years she was training at the best academies in the United States and turned pro in 2010 at 17.
Here’s what you need to know about Stephens:
1. Stephens Is Looking For Her 1st Victory
The 22-year-old has been on the WTA circuit since 2010, but is still searching for that elusive first victory.
Stephens is, though, becoming known as a player who steps up when the lights are brightest with some of her best finishes coming in the Grand Slams events.
She had a breakout year in 2013, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, the quarters of Wimbledon and the 4th round in each of the French and U.S. Opens.
Stephens has reached the 4th round of the French in 2014 and ’15 as well.
A title or not, Sloane has made $3.34 million in career earnings on the court.
As a junior, she won the 2010 French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open doubles titles with Tímea Babos of Hungary.
2. Her Father Was An NFL Running Back
Sloane’s father is former NFL running back John Stephens, who played 6 seasons in the NFL.
Stephens, mostly known for his 5 years with the New England Patriots, ran for 1,168 yards as a rookie in 1988.
Tragically, Stephens died when his pickup truck ran off a Louisiana highway and hit some trees in September 2009. He was 43.
3. Sloane’s Mother Was An All-American Swimmer In College
Sloane’s mother was also a gifted athlete.
Sybil Smith was All-American swimmer at Boston University, graduating in 1988. In fact, Smith was the first African-American woman to accomplish the feat.
She was inducted to the BU Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and is considered the best and most accomplished swimmer in school history.
After her swimming career, Smith was an assistant coach at Harvard.
Sybil and John Stephens divorced when Sloane was very young.
4. Stephens Has Defeated Serena Williams
2013 was a big year for Sloane on the court as she made her first Grand Slam semifinal. That was in the Australian Open. And along the way Stephens happened to upset one of her idols.
She was just 19 and on the other side of the net was Serena Williams. No matter.
Sloane lost the first set to the heavily-favored Williams 3-6, but rallied to win the next 2 sets and the match.
Stephens said in a post-match press conference:
This is so crazy. Oh my goodness. I think I’ll put a poster of myself (up) now.
Sloane also cites Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters as other inspirations.
5. She Peaked In the Rankings at No. 11
After that Grand Slam run of 2013, Stephens reached No. 11 in the world rankings on October 21. It remains her career-best ranking.
Currently heading into Wimbledon 2015, Stephens is ranked 37th.
She opened Wimbledon 2015 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 28 Barbora Strycova on Monday, June 28. She now meets fellow American Lauren Davis in the second round.