A women’s US Open with Serena Williams.
The Tennis gods sprinkled sister Venus Williams in the final four along with two other women of color and one more American woman making it a US Open women’s semifinal that featured four Americans for the first time since 1981. The final featured two American women of color, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. It was a win. Win.
The tennis gods determined the final victor was Stephens. America the beautiful. Stephens won her first career US Open and first Grand Slam title in a one-sided 6-3, 6-0 win over Keys.
Stephens winning this Grand Slam is only part of the story. Slow and steady surely wins the race. Stephens at one point was ranked 934th in her career; she entered the US Open at No. 83 in WTA rankings. She leaves it at as No.17 moreover a champion.
A remarkably rapid rise after sitting out 11 months because of foot surgery.
“To share this moment on court is just amazing. I’m so happy that Maddy and I were able to play in the final today,” Stephens stated.
Stephens is the first American woman not named Venus or Serena Williams to win the US Open since Lindsay Davenport in 1998.
Stephens’ win came on the 60th anniversary of Althea Gibson’s first of back-to-back US Open championship wins. Stephens joins Gibson, Venus and Serena Williams as the only African-American women to win a Grand Slam title.
A year ago, she sat out the US Open altogether because of what turned out to be a stress fracture in her left foot. She had an operation in January, and made her season debut at Wimbledon in July, exiting in the first round. She lost her next match, too, in Washington.
Since then, Stephens has gone 15-2, and her ranking has soared from outside the top 900 to what will be around No. 20 as of Monday.
“I mean, things just have to come together,” Stephens said. “And the last six weeks, five weeks, they really have.”
This was only the second time in the Open era that two women were making their Grand Slam final debuts against each other in New York. Stephens most certainly handled the occasion better, claiming the last eight games and making only six unforced errors — Keys had 30 — in the entire 61 minutes.
Stephens won her first Grand Slam however the hug at the net with Keys after the championship point is one that will never be forgotten. At the net, she hugged Keys tightly, rubbed her on the shoulder and whispered into her ear, as heartbroken for her friend as she was thrilled by her own accomplishment. It actually took the moment away from the match that was one-sided. It was clear evidence of their bond moreover unconditional friendship.
“Sloane was being a great friend and very supportive,” Keys said in her postmatch interview, her eyes still clouded by tears. “If there’s someone I had to lose to, I’m glad it’s her.”
There hadn’t been an all-American women’s final at Flushing Meadows since 2002, when Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus.
Stephens won 16 of 20 points she served in the first set and didn’t face a single break point until 50 minutes into the final, deep in the second set. She had to deal with three in one game there, erased each with a winner, and held for 5-0. Soon enough her name was written in history.