Sloane Stephens (267191)

Monday is the official start of the US Open, one of the tennis world’s, and New York City’s most prestigious events.

Starting with Fan Week on Tuesday, the re-opening of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium with a program featuring a performance by Wynton Marsalis immediately followed by a tennis exibition by US Open Legends

John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, James Blake, and Michael Chang yesterday, practice sessions with top ranked players until Sunday, qualifying matches today and tomorrow (Friday), all free to the public, and Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day on Saturday, the Open is preparing to host the world’s greatest tennis players; ie., Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, the Williams Sisters – Venus and Serena, Sloan Stephens, Madison Keyes, Maria Sharapova and so on and so on at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Queens.

Nadal, seeded number 1 last year, defeated Kevin Anderson, the 28-seed in three sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 for the Open’s men’s singles championship..

Stephens, who entered last year’s Open unranked, remarkably advanced through the rounds to the semifinals, narrowly defeating Venus Williams, seeded nine, in three sets, a match that could’ve went either way, then defeating Madison Keys (ranked 15th) in the finals, 6-3 and 6-0 to win the women’s singles Open title.

Both Stephens and Keys are American. Nadal is from Spain. Anderson is South African. Both Nadal and Stephens are this year’s defending champions. Anderson and Keys are also scheduled to participate.

Stephens, 25, rose to prominence during the Australian Open in 2013 with a semifinal victory over Serena Williams, the younger Williams sister.

Sidelined during the first half of 2017 after having surgery on her left foot in January, Stephens returned to compete in early July, at Wimbledon. A first round loss before her appearance in the 2017 Open. Stephens reached the finals of this year’s French Open (in the spring), losing the chip in three sets to Simona Halep of Romania.

Stephens and Katrina Adams, the President and CEO of the United States Tennis Association, the USTA, discussed her incredible return to the game, role models, and her efforts to bring more tennis programs to children in an interview with Adams, also a regular contributor to the CBS Sports Network’s television program, We Need to Talk.

“I’ve done so well in the last year, more than I could have ever dreamed of,” acknowledged Stephens, aware that there may be some nervousness on her part when she hits the Open’s courts next week. Coming in this year is a different kind of pressure than last.

“I’ll be a little bit shaky, but I just have to remember to go out and have fun, and just try to do my best.”

Adams, who turned 50 earlier this month, is the first former professional tennis player, and the first African-American to serve as President of the USTA in their 135-year history. Also the youngest. Both Stephens and Adams are committed to giving back, inspiring youth, young players, young women

of color.

“I think it’s really important that you always have someone to look up to. You always need that little something, to be like, ‘I could be like them. Oh, I look like her. She’s from the same city as me.’ Things like that. One little bit of a connection can go so far with one person, said Stephens who recently graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

“I never in my life thought like, ok, one day some kids gonna be like, ‘Sloane, oh my God, I love you,’ the way I looked at Venus and Serena.”