A foot injury in January left her in no position to walk for 15 weeks. On Saturday night in New York, she won the US Open women's singles title by beating friend Madison Keys
Sloane Stephens reacts as the lid of the championship trophy falls off after the women's singles final of the US Open on Saturday. Pic/AP, PTI
At her moment of victory, American Sloane Stephens, 24, turned to her supporters with a look of complete astonishment on her face, and no wonder.
In January a nagging foot injury forced her to undergo surgery and left her unable to walk for 15 weeks. On Saturday night, Stephens beat her friend Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 to win the US Open final in
Two months ago at Wimbledon, Stephens lost in the first round with her ranking slumping to 957. She then lost in the first round in Washington. "Eventually, I will beat someone," she said.
Fifteen wins out of 17 matches later, she walked off Arthur Ashe Stadium as tennis' newest Grand Slam champion and 3.7million US dollars (£2.8million) richer.
She said: "It was just like, 'Wow, how insane? I actually won the US Open.' There are no words to describe how I got here, the process it took or anything like that, because if you told someone this story, they'd be, like, 'That's insane.' I'm a real fighter. I have a lot of grit. I don't give up. I'm not just going to let them take it from me. I'm going to make sure I give everything I have, and I leave everything on the court at all times, no matter what."
It's a determination bred in frustration after being forced to watch the Australian Open from her couch unable to walk after surgery in January. She still needed a walking boot in June. "I was super limited. I was walking on a peg leg, so that whole 15 weeks was super tough," Stephens said. "My head is a little clearer, if that makes any sense."
So has this given her the hunger to win more slam titles? "Of course, girl," she replied to her questioner. "Did you see that cheque that lady handed me? Man, if that doesn't make you want to play tennis, I don't know what will."
At 83 in the rankings, Stephens is the fifth lowest-ranked woman to win a slam title in the Open era and her ranking will now soar to 17.
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