Serena Williams isn’t used to losing tennis matches, and tennis fans aren’t used to watching her lose. That’s what made her loss last night to a teenager at the Australian Open so shocking. Meet Sloane Stephens, the charismatic 19-year-old who achieved a career high last night in defeating Williams, currently ranked #3 with a shot at #1. Today, Stephens is being hailed as the future of tennis.
Stephens has been on the radar for tennis fans for a while now. She posed for Teen Vogue in 2011, has an Under Armour sponsorship, and has made several TV appearances. Since Stephens is muscular and African American, she’s often compared to Serena. But as Daily Beast writer Nicholas McCarvel points out, the two have very different personalities. Stephens is known for her sense of humor; reporters covering her say she’s sarcastic and playful.
Adorably (or disturbingly?), the first things Stephens did after her big win yesterday was to check her phone by the side of the court. ”I hope to have a lot more Twitter followers,” she said last night. She told ESPN’s Pam Shriver that she had 145 messages when she got off the court.
Stephens went pro in 2009, and before yesterday’s match she was seeded 29th. Her 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Williams last night marks the first time she’ll make it to a grand slam semifinal — but probably not the last. She plays Victoria Azarenka, currently ranked #1, today.
Photo: Teen Vogue