Trans World Sport has a knack for profiling future champions.
They spoke to Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer as teenagers before they went onto win 36 grand slam titles between them. In this video uploaded 5 years ago, TWS spoke to an 18-year old Sloane Stephens and the opening line is eerily prophetic.
“If I were to win a grand slam, I’ve definitely been practising my freakout pose at the end.”
Okay, so it’s more of a freakout look than a pose but you get the idea. That of course was at the 2017 US Open final when she beat Madison Keys in straight sets 6-3 6-0 and shared a heartfelt hug with Keys at the net after a reserved celebration.
But back to the video. All those involved in her progression praised her athleticism and strength and, at the time, she was the youngest player in the WTA Top 100. Of course, comparisons were drawn between her and Serena Williams and Stephens would go onto shock the GOAT at the Australian Open in 2013. She went onto end the year with a semifinal finish in Melbourne, a QF finish at Wimbledon and two fourth-round finishes at Roland Garros and the US Open. Early exits in the grand slams followed and questions were asked of her ability to make it back to that height. She withdrew from the 2016 US Open with a foot injury and the following 11 months saw her cascade down the rankings to #957 as she regained fitness.
From August 2017, she reached the semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati and jumped up to #83, the biggest jump of any player on the tour. From there, she swept through the field at Flushing Meadows and by the Monday after her first grand slam win, she was up to #15. That’s 923 places in a month.
She currently finds herself in the semifinals of Roland Garros after a shock 1st round exit in Melbourne in January and her performances on clay have put her forward as a dark horse for the title if she can overcome Madison Keys again.
But for the moment, enjoy this trip down memory lane and stream the video below.