After the foot surgery that sidelined her for about a year, Sloane Stephens return wasn’t like the Cinderella story that she would have liked. The 25-year-old American was only 3-4 heading into the Miami Open, for instance.
But armed with a new perspective, and figuratively a new set of foot, Stephens is prepared to bring back the dominance of the Americans in women’s tennis.
Even with her struggles, she never allowed frustration to sidetrack her from her goals.
“I said to myself, ‘There are so many great opportunities, you’re not going to be able to take the title every week, and that’s OK,'” Stephens told reporters. “Basically, people who bounce back the best are the ones most able to secure those opportunities.”
Stephens won a hard match against Jelena Ostapenko, the No. 5 ranked player who’s known for her vicious serves, at the Crandon Park on Saturday. After a slow start, the American dominated the Latvian on a score of 7-6 (5), 6-1.
There was so much hype surrounding the match considering that it was the first time the two up-and-coming tennis players faced each other after they both won the Grand Slam it the previous 12 months. The two competitors were clearly apprehensive at the start of the game but Stephens’ defense was better, which allowed her to stay in the game.
The sloppiness showed in the box score as Ostapenko committed 48 unforced errors, which cost her the title. Stephens, meanwhile, had 21 of her own.
Stephens said that the Miami Open title was an icing on the cake. Her main goal coming in was to regain her form.
For her part, Ostapenko credited Stephens for moving so well, which showed that she’s no longer bothered by her foot injury. “She was changing the pace. She was serving sometimes kick, sometimes going for it,” the Latvian said. “I think she’s a great player.”