Published: Mon, September 11, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Sloane Stephens crushes Madison Keys to win US Open title

Sloane Stephens crushes Madison Keys to win US Open title

"It's incredible. I honestly had surgery on Jan 23 and if someone had told me I'd win the US Open I would have said it's impossible", said the unseeded Stephens who, after celebrating, sat down and chatted with Keys.

Stephens, who has jumped more than 900 spots in the world rankings in a month, is now a grand slam champion, winning the US Open 6-3, 6-0 against No. 15 seed and fellow American Madison Keys at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York. It wasn't until May that she would get back onto a tennis court - and even then she was off her feet, plopped on a wood table at a practice facility at UCLA while aiming her racket at balls tossed by her coach, Kamau Murray.

It's incredible, said Stephens. Two of those players - Venus Williams and Stephens - are African-Americans and Keys is bi-racial. "I haven't done any work for two weeks", she said.

"I don't know if I have arrived or already arrived, been arrived", she said.

Nor was it all that fun to face a pal with so much at stake.

Keys, 22, and Stephens, 24, spent part of that time off texting and calling each other.

Sloane Stephens of the United States poses during the trophy presentation after the Women's Singles finals match on Day Thirteen of the 2017 US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2017 in NY.

Keys fell 4-0 down when she hit a double fault and although she had her first break points of the match in the fifth game, Stephens held. While waiting for the trophy ceremony to begin, Stephens walked over and plopped herself down in a courtside chair next to Keys, so they could chat side-by-side.

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Keys noted, "Sloane is truly one of my favourite people and to get to play her was really special". "But Sloane, being the great friend that she is, was very supportive".

They hammed it up afterward, too. "That's a lot of money!" I think that if it was the other way around she would do the same for me.

Excluding when unranked Clijsters won in 2009, the matchup between No. 16 Keys and No. 83 Stephens, with a combined ranking of 99, is the lowest title match at the US Open since computerized rankings began in November 1975. And the two finalists planned to party together on Saturday night. "I didn't have anything to do", she said, noting she wasn't planning on buying a vehicle. "All of the drinks".

In a match between close friends that lasted just over one hour, Stephens made only six unforced errors in the match, compared to 30 for Keys.

Stephens' late father, John Stephens, was the 1988 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the New England Patriots. Her mother, Smith, is a former collegiate swimmer at Boston University. In addition to being a super athlete, Stephens seems to thrive in the spotlight: She's now 5-0 in tournament finals. The two have been inspirations to tennis fans and opened up possibilities for young Black women who never considered tennis before.

In 2017, her season debut came at Wimbledon in July, when she lost in the first round. She would go on to lose to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. He came to see her earlier in the tournament while he was suspended from the Americans' game at Honduras because of yellow-card accumulation, then was back in her box for Thursday's semifinal victory over Venus Williams.

And before the Williams sisters there was Ashe, the victor of three Grand Slam titles.

"I should just retire now", Stephens said. Talk about a comeback.

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