Sloane Stephens after reaching US Open final: 'American tennis is doing great'

By @saihoops on
Venus Williams vs Sloane Stephens live streaming
Sept 5 2017; New York, NY, USA; Sloane Stephens of the United States returns a shot to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. USA TODAY Sports / Robert Deutsch

Sloane Stephens reached her maiden Grand Slam finals Thursday by edging out fellow American Venus Williams in the semi-finals of the 2017 US Open. The 24-year-old Stephens will now face fifteenth seeded Madison Keys in an all-American final on Sunday. 

It will be the first Grand Slam final for both players. It's been 15 years since two American women squared off for the championship at Flushing Meadows. In 2002, Serena Williams beat her sister, Venus, for her 4th career Grand Slam title and second US Open title. 

Reflecting on the 60th anniversary of Althea Gibson’s first victory at the US Open, Stephens stressed that American tennis was on the right track.  Andy Roddick, at the 2003 US Open, was the last American male to win a Grand Slam. “I just don’t want anyone to ever ask me about the state of American tennis ever again. The proof is in the pudding. So we don’t ever need to discuss the state of American tennis. We’re doing great.”

Sloane Stephens: From World. 934 to Grand Slam final

A victory on Sunday would cap off an incredible comeback for Stephens. In 2013, Stephens vaulted into the spotlight as a teenager when she beat Serena Williams at the Australian Open. Since then, Stephens underwent personal tragedies followed by a a career-threatening stress fracture (left foot) that kept her out of tennis for 11 months. Since her return, the American has won 14 of her last 16 matches, all against Top-50 opponents.

After reaching back-t0-back semi-finals in Toronto, Cincinnati, and now New York, Stephens is projected to climb 900 ranking spots. She was World No. 934 less than five weeks ago. “I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. When I started my comeback, if someone had told me I would have made two semi-finals and a grand slam final, I would have just passed out, which I’m ready to do now. I don’t even know how I got here. Just hard work," an emotional Stephens said after her 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 victory against Williams.

Sloane Stephens will face Madison Keys, a close friend, in Sunday's final. Keys missed the first two months of 2017 with a left-wrist injury, and underwent a second surgery in June. “Who would’ve thought in Australia, Sloane and I would be the finalists of the US Open, both having just had surgery and not playing. … She’s a close friend of mine. To be able to play each other in our first finals is a really special moment.”