19-year-old Sloane Stephens is already a media darling. She's already won the Junior Girls’ doubles titles at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open all by the age of 17. And it's no wonder she's a mega athlete seeing that her mother was a college swimmer and her late father, John Stephens, was a runningback in the NFL.
Sloane said at her press conference before shockingly winning the knock out match against Serena yesterday:
"[The next match] just happens to be Serena. She's obviously one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Without all that, it's still a tennis match … The court's the same size. You're still playing a regular person across the net. You've just got to go out and play.”
She admitted then she had posters of the Williams sisters on her wall. And as the only American out of the four finalists, she now says maybe she should hang one of herself.
Check out her on court interview after her win below.
“I saw her in the locker room. She was another black girl. I was like, ‘Hey!’ That’s when I first noticed her. ‘What up, girl?”’
Sloane was born in Plantation, Florida, and was introduced to tennis by her mother, Sybil, at the age of nine. Her progress on court was impressive as she picked up secondary ITF titles and made deeper inroads into WTA events and Grand Slams, finishing as the highest-ranked teenager in the top 100 in 2011, and in the top 50 in 2012.
Commercial interest followed and, under the wing of the Lagardere management company, she signed up to endorsement deals with American Express, Johnson & Johnson and Under Armour apparel among others.
Sloane has already almost doubled her career earnings this week by guaranteeing $500,000 (£315,000) for reaching the semi-finals in Australia, and another win over world number one Victoria Azarenka on Thursday will take that over $1m.
As for the future on court, Sloane has yet to win a senior title anywhere but could end the week as a Grand Slam champion. That remains an outside bet, but her win over Williams gave the women's game its biggest jolt in years.
And as the player now in pole position to be poster girl for the next generation, it was appropriate that the number of new Twitter followers, rather than potential back pages, brought the most dazzling grin to Sloane’s face.
"I had 17,000", she said. "Now I have 35,000”.