My Person of the Week: Sloane Stephens

Damn I love a good comeback story.

In case you missed it, on Thursday September 7th, there was a melanin showdown on the tennis court between living legend, Venus Williams and rising superstar, Sloane Stephens in the U.S. Open. While many are talking about Stephens’ meteoric rise back to the top -- she was ranked 934th coming into the major -- I’d like to point out something that will have even more significance for generations to come: Thursday night’s performance solidified Sloane Stephens as an inspirational star for the many young girls who look like her.

The lights were on, the media was there, and there was a living legend across the court as she took the stage in the tournament’s semi-final matchup. After emphatically claiming the first set, television viewers heard her confidence called into question as she was blanked 6-0 in the second. What followed was a showdown in the third set that sums up the phenom’s career thus far: the back-and-forth, recoveries, the mastery. It had it all. But more importantly it showed her resilience in the face of pressure on such a stage, especially after her second set “debacle.”

Venus(l.) and Sloane(r.) duked it out like two prizefighters for what seemed like an eternity in the third set of their matchup, with Stephens eventually besting Williams in the end to win the match.

Venus(l.) and Sloane(r.) duked it out like two prizefighters for what seemed like an eternity in the third set of their matchup, with Stephens eventually besting Williams in the end to win the match.

Now social media and countless blogs and publications have joined in with a chorus of praise for Stephens. Stories of the injury that almost set her career back and the resurgent comeback she’s in the midst of are on every corner of the internet. Add those to the fact that she is, first and foremost, an African American woman and I truly believe that win or lose in Saturday's final, she has inspired many who view her as the person they aspire to become.

I remember when I first learned of Stephens after her 2013 defeat of Serena Williams in the Australian Open. A lot was made of Stephens’ poster of Williams that hung in her room. Now, I wonder if she ever thinks about the young girls who have her poster on their wall. Because representation matters.


Did I mention The Sloane Stephens Foundation?! Find out more here.