Serena Williams is playing extremely well at the US Open, but her next opponent could cause many problems.–20-year-old Sloane Stephens is only one of three women who beat Williams this season. She made a name for herself when she defeated Williams at the Australian Open in January.
Williams is 31, owns 16 major titles and the #1 player in the world. Stephens is 20 and after she defeated Williams, she immediately captured the “Next Big Thing” title. She is seeded No. 15 at the US Open and a big draw to all her matches.
After Williams beat Yaroslava Shvedova at 1:05AM Saturday she was asked if Stephens is now a rival:
“I don’t know,” she began. “I mean, definitely. I mean, anyone that’s playing tennis and that’s doing as well as her, you can definitely say that.”
As for facing Stephens on Sunday, Williams said: “I definitely look forward to it. Whatever happens … an American for sure will be in the quarterfinals, which is really good.”
But Williams knows how to recover and Stephens knows she cannot let down her guard. Williams is 94 or 99 since she was eliminated in the first round at the 2012 French Open, including winning last year’s US Open. From the Associated Press:
“She’s very aggressive. She stays on top you of you. Doesn’t give you any room to breathe. She’s intense. She knows what she wants to do out there. That’s why she’s No. 1,” said Stephens, whose late father, John, was the 1988 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with the New England Patriots.
Why should Williams be really happy if she beats Stephens? Stephens lost to the eventual champions at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.