Sloane Stephens:
More Gutsy, More Mature, But?

Matthew Cronin

9 months ago Sloane Stephens recovered from a major injury to win the Open.

Nine months ago, Sloane Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open. Then this year she got to the final of the French.  It was pretty surprising, because she had just come back a couple of months before from foot surgery, walking on crutches before getting back on court. But that wasn’t the only reason it was surprising.

Before, the Californian resident looked fantastic at times, and not at others, getting defensive and down on herself. The most important thing she needed was to grow up, learn, and keep practicing.

Over the past 20 years, when players start on the WTA Tour very young, there are just a few players who have locked in, immediately. They rarely would get super nervous, and they would battle very hard. That includes Serena and Venus Williams, who have combined to win  30 Grand Slams -- a tremendous amount.

But that was not Stephens, who joined the WTA Tour seven years ago. She was pretty good, but not great. Even in 2013, she was already super fast, consistent and driven. But she didn’t hit hard often enough, and often backed off.

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In 1980 John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg played two of the greatest matches of all time in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open finals, both won by McEnroe, catalyzing Borg's disappearance from the game. In Epic, Matt Cronin, one the world's most respected tennis writers, and a regular contributor, tells the stories of the two legendary careers that lead up those confrontations - as well as recounting the matches themselves. We're excerpting the start of both stories on Tennisplayer - the young Borg and the young McEnroe. Get Matt's book and read the rest!

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Matthew Cronin, founder of, is one of the most prolific and insightful journalists working in the sport of tennis. Matt has covered men's and women's pro tennis for the past fifteen years, traveling the world to develop his unique first hand perspective on every aspect of the game. Matt is a regular contributor to Reuters, has written extensively for the official Grand Slam web sites, and did play-by-play on the first web radio broadcast of the US Open finals. A former co-president of the International Tennis Writers Association, Cronin resides in Moraga, Calif., USA, with his wife, Patti, and their children, Cassandra, Connor and Chiara.

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