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Stephens’ US Open win sees a changing of the guard

ALL MINE: Stephens celebrates with her hard earned trophy

THE SUCCESSORS to Venus and Serena Williams are jostling to sit on the tennis throne still currently occupied by the two great Americans. Unseeded Sloane Stephens, who beat Venus in the semi final, surged past fellow American Madison Keys to win her first Grand Slam in the shape of the US Open title in the iconic Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York recently.

Winning 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 1 minute, Stephens’ backhand shots and athleticism proved too much for the 15th seed, who was struggling with a thigh injury.
Stephens’ victory was a remarkable feat given a right foot stress fracture ended her 2016 season leading to surgery, an eleven month lay-off and until six weeks ago, she was ranked 957 in the world.

This was the first all-American final without featuring a Williams sister since Martina Navratilova defeated Chris Evert in 1984. And, Stephens is the second lowest ranked player to claim the title, since computer records began in 1975.

The US Open surprised many with its twists and turns in the women’s draw. Four American women reached US Open 2017 semi-finals in Flushing Meadows, New York.
This was the first time since 1981 for four home-grown players made their Slam semi-finals. Keys joined Venus Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe and Stephens in the last four after beating Estonia’s Kai Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 in their quarter final.

Like her good friend Stephens, Keys struggled with injuries throughout the 2016 season. After two extensive wrist surgeries, she won this year’s Stanford Classic final title 7-6, 6-4 during her comeback run.

The 15th seed even recovered from a set down in her US Open fourth round match to defeat 4th seed Elina Svitolina from Ukraine 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.

Stephens, often seen as a successor to the Williams sisters, met five-time Grand Slam winner Williams in their half of the draw for the other all-American semi-final. On route, Williams ousted two-time Wimbledon champion and 13th seed Petra Kvitova in a three-set quarter final thriller 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.

The ninth seed followed up with another tense three-set semi-final against Sloane Stephens. Stephens won 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 and a place in the women’s final.
With Serena on maternity leave, this year’s US Open provided great opportunities, and her compatriots looked to take advantage.

This year has seen four different winners at the slams: Serena Williams winning the Australian Open, Ostapenko defeats Simona Halep in the French Open final and Murguruza’s Wimbledon Championship win against Venus Williams. Murguruza is now world number one. Sloane Stephens enters the top 20, which is not bad for six weeks work!

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