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View Full Version : The media need to stop comparing Sloane Stephens to Serena Williams


Morrissey
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:41 PM
I've read numerous articles and the writers always compare Sloane Stephens to the Williams Sisters especially Serena because she's also a black woman.

The American press are wrong for putting too much pressure on this young girl she clearly is not mentally ready to take that next step.

I suggest Sloane maybe try to play lower level WTA events and try to win some events first.

She also might need to see a sports psychologist and work through the mental problems she's having on court.

Sloane plays too defensive tennis and not enough offensive tennis she's capable of being more aggressive yet chooses not to which is wrong.

She let Ivanovic off the hook and just choked the match.

Serena won the US OPEN at the tender age of seventeen, Sloane Stephens is nineteen and she hasn't even reached a WTA Tour final or a grand slam quarterfinal.

I think Sloane has a lot of talent but she plays too defensive tennis and hits the ball crosscourt too much. She also needs to improve her backhand.

Sloane has a lot of talent but she seems terrified when she meets a top player. I don't know why? Why should Sloane be afraid the pressure is on the higher ranked player not her.


However, I think the American media are putting too much pressure on Sloane. Sloane choked that match against Ivanovic last night and she's done it before. I didn't know that Stephens had a 6-2 5-1 40-15 lead against Kerber in Indian Wells but FOUND a way to LOSE that match this year!

The girl clearly has a lot of game but Chris Evert is right, Sloane's mental side of the game has not matched her athletic abilities. I don't know why Sloane doesn't believe she's not good enough or maybe she just gets really tight when trying to close out matches.

Charlatan
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:44 PM
And you need to stop opening threads

StoneRose
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:45 PM
And you need to stop opening threadsThis.

Stonerpova
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:47 PM
I've read numerous articles and the writers always compare Sloane Stephens to the Williams Sisters especially Serena because she's also a black woman.

The American press are wrong for putting too much pressure on this young girl she clearly is not mentally ready to take that next step.

I suggest Sloane maybe try to play lower level WTA events and try to win some events first.

She also might need to see a sports psychologist and work through the mental problems she's having on court.

Sloane plays too defensive tennis and not enough offensive tennis she's capable of being more aggressive yet chooses not to which is wrong.

She let Ivanovic off the hook and just choked the match.

Serena won the US OPEN at the tender age of seventeen, Sloane Stephens is nineteen and she hasn't even reached a WTA Tour final or a grand slam quarterfinal.

I think Sloane has a lot of talent but she plays too defensive tennis and hits the ball crosscourt too much. She also needs to improve her backhand.

Sloane has a lot of talent but she seems terrified when she meets a top player. I don't know why? Why should Sloane be afraid the pressure is on the higher ranked player not her.


However, I think the American media are putting too much pressure on Sloane. Sloane choked that match against Ivanovic last night and she's done it before. I didn't know that Stephens had a 6-2 5-1 40-15 lead against Kerber in Indian Wells but FOUND a way to LOSE that match this year!

The girl clearly has a lot of game but Chris Evert is right, Sloane's mental side of the game has not matched her athletic abilities. I don't know why Sloane doesn't believe she's not good enough or maybe she just gets really tight when trying to close out matches.

And Venus isn't? :confused: :lol:

moby
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:48 PM
And Venus isn't? :confused: :lol:

Venus only dates white guys so she's really an Oreo.

Stamp Paid
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:48 PM
It is too much pressure, and she could never be the Queen.

tennisbum79
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:50 PM
I agree.
It is too much pressure for Sloane, especially when she has not really proven she can win.

azinna
Sep 2nd, 2012, 06:51 PM
And it would help Sloane to not have her face plastered all over the US Open grounds. You couldn't turn without seeing her.

Though they were "names" by then, Serena and Venus were able to win their first slams without that kind of public expectation. In fact, they had the opposite, which is a difficult though very different mental course to complete.

...

tennisbum79
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:00 PM
And you need to stop opening threads

what is your problem?
your anger is always on the surface, and it does not take too much to erupt

Stamp Paid
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:01 PM
what is your problem?
your anger is always on the surface, and it does not too much to editor.:oh:

Tenis Srbija
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:05 PM
That has happened in the past, it's happening now and will continue to happen until forever. It's the same for every player. It's on them to cope with that "pressure", although I don't really see that as a pressure, as much as I see it as something flattering that can make one progress on it. For God's sake, she is a professional athlete, not beaten up kid :shrug:

saint2
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:06 PM
Don't read tennis press. Problem solved.

C. Drone
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:08 PM
agree with title, considering she has ~1% talent of the WS.
Rest is usual Morrissey BS. :zzz:

what is your problem?
your anger is always on the surface, and it does not too much to editor.

what is your problem when dozens of ppl on this board already said same about Morrissey? Do you follow him everywhere?

JackFrost
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:09 PM
I think itīs normal. For the german media is every german player, who can win three matches in a row, the "next Steffi Graf". :lol:

Halepsova
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:26 PM
I think itīs normal. For the german media is every german player, who can win three matches in a row, the "next Steffi Graf". :lol:

Kerber is obviously the next Steffi Graf. Do they need some more? :shrug:

StoneRose
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:34 PM
And you need to stop opening threads

what is your problem?
your anger is always on the surface, and it does not take too much to eruptI haven't noticed this (about sickfalsetto). Morrissey is always posting negative things, some posts of him are incredibly insulting, towards Kuznetsova for instance. So I fully understand why sickfalsetto posted this reaction.

tennisbum79
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:35 PM
agree with title, considering she has ~1% talent of the WS.
Rest is usual Morrissey BS. :zzz:



what is your problem when dozens of ppl on this board already said same about Morrissey? Do you follow him everywhere?

I did not see the other people comments and what thread and topic it was about.
OTH, falseto has a tendency cut off debate by post like the one I responded to or by dispensing bad reps

ShiftyFella
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:44 PM
SW sort of "coaches" her, Sloane form resembles young Serena, so why not to compare? also, media do it all the time not a big deal

tennisbum79
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:45 PM
I haven't noticed this (about sickfalsetto). Morrissey is always posting negative things, some posts of him are incredibly insulting, towards Kuznetsova for instance. So I fully understand why sickfalsetto posted this reaction.

I am not aware of what Morrissey said about other players, so I take you at your words.
With that said, this is perfectly a legitimate debate worth having.


Personal differences with a poster should not rob others of an important debate.

That is my point

Charlatan
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:49 PM
Rest is usual Morrissey BS. :zzz:
what is your problem when dozens of ppl on this board already said same about Morrissey? Do you follow him everywhere?

My god, fucking this! Spammingbum79 needs to catch things up

bertoltbrecht
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:53 PM
And you need to stop opening threads

LMFAO.:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

Rest Maria!
Sep 2nd, 2012, 07:53 PM
And you need to stop opening threads

i'm so sad u put maria again in your avi sickfalsetto, i'm so disappointed inn u!!! :tears:

PS feel free to put it in your signature :secret:

Thkmra
Sep 2nd, 2012, 08:06 PM
I completely agree, and not even on the whole mental side, and her inability to close out out big matches, but aspects of her game in my opinon will keep her from not only being 'The next Venus, or Serena', but might even keep her out of the top 10!!

Speaking particularly of the painfully obvious weakness of her game: her bh side!!
Never, NEVER have I've witness a player be so skilled, and aggressive minded on one side, have the EXACT opposite mentality on the other.
Granted, MOST do prefer a stroke over the other, but not Ivanovic, Wozniacki..even Steffi have/had that drastic a difference between their shots!!
Her backhand is EXTREMELY poor, and unless by miracle she manages to change it, I don't see her as becoming 'The next big thing, quite frankly!! :shrug:

bandabou
Sep 2nd, 2012, 08:19 PM
Waayyyys to go. Serena even at age 17/18 already showed that she had the tools to become what she eventually became. I'm not sure Stephens has that much of an upside.

Morrissey
Sep 2nd, 2012, 10:42 PM
I completely agree, and not even on the whole mental side, and her inability to close out out big matches, but aspects of her game in my opinon will keep her from not only being 'The next Venus, or Serena', but might even keep her out of the top 10!!

Speaking particularly of the painfully obvious weakness of her game: her bh side!!
Never, NEVER have I've witness a player be so skilled, and aggressive minded on one side, have the EXACT opposite mentality on the other.
Granted, MOST do prefer a stroke over the other, but not Ivanovic, Wozniacki..even Steffi have/had that drastic a difference between their shots!!
Her backhand is EXTREMELY poor, and unless by miracle she manages to change it, I don't see her as becoming 'The next big thing, quite frankly!! :shrug:

I agree and Sloane also plays a very defensive style of game she doesn't take the initiative at all. Sloane really choked that match against Ivanovic she has to do a lot more to warrant the media attention.

This reminds of Ryan Harrison the American media also act like the guy's next Andy Roddick even though he's ranked in the 60s and never reached an ATP Tour final.

Rolling-Thunder
Sep 2nd, 2012, 10:58 PM
I believe you have to give her time. She has the game to go far. She can be a top 20. But she does have to be more aggressive when the situation calls for it. Her last match was one she could have won, especially considering who she was play.

She need to play a lot more smaller events to get the experience of closing out matches she is ahead in or against a higher rank player. She can't rely just on the slams.

tennnisfannn
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:00 PM
I think itīs normal. For the german media is every german player, who can win three matches in a row, the "next Steffi Graf". :lol:

Very well said. When i look at Sloane I am reminded of serena not venus, their build is similar.
The Radwanskas, Bodarenkos are often compared to the Williams- sister factor
Every lefty is immediately compared to Navritalova esp when they start being successful.
Kournakova- Sharapova till the latter actually won something!
Sloane should consider it an extreme honour.
Let's not forget Patty to the anti-christ!

Travod
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:00 PM
I'm sure being black helps the comparison but maybe it's because Sloane is a rising American women?

Sure there's that lady who betrayed her home country and then that Christina McHale but who are they.

tennisbum79
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:02 PM
My god, fucking this! Spammingbum79 needs to catch things up

I don't need to catch up with any of your several battle fronts.

This thread is worthwhile.Period. It does not matterr who created it

Morrissey
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:03 PM
Very well said. When i look at Sloane I am reminded of serena not venus, their build is similar.
The Radwanskas, Bodarenkos are often compared to the Williams- sister factor
Every lefty is immediately compared to Navritalova esp when they start being successful.
Kournakova- Sharapova till the latter actually won something!
Sloane should consider it an extreme honour.

But it is not an honour it is a hindrance, why put pressure on a young player? It didn't help Anke Huber or Sabine Hack when they were compared to Graf. It certainly hasn't helped Kerber or Lisicki or the other German women to be compared to Graf.

The media always do this they put so much expectations on a young player and a lot of the times the young player crumbles under the pressure.

Sloane is good but she has a long way to go before anyone can take her really seriously.

First, Sloane needs to start winning WTA events she needs a better backhand and she needs to dial down the media interviews and focus on her game.

duhcity
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:03 PM
Assuming your British: A British poster complaining about media scrutiny and pressure on an American :lol:

b2b
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:11 PM
this is what i have in mind for a while

put the so called "talent" which i'm not sure how much she has aside first, she strikes me as someone who has little ambition or drive to achieve greatness in this trade. Her game construction is very sloppy as a result of sloppy training. And in those interviews she even said she didn't want to be the best youngster out there and clearly cares more about partying and shopping than how to win. I get the feeling from all these that she is one of those kind girls who train like 1 or 2 hours a day,have it enough and will never go some extra mile. Another factor is that she comes from a well-to-do family.

She is no williams and i don't think she will even be close if she doesn't "really want it"

dybbuk
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:39 PM
I just hate how every single black tennis player is compared to the WS, and is automatically assumed to idolize the WS. Sloane doesn't even play like them, she's much closer to Capriati for instance.

dsanders06
Sep 2nd, 2012, 11:42 PM
I just hate how every single black tennis player is compared to the WS, and is automatically assumed to idolize the WS. Sloane doesn't even play like them, she's much closer to Capriati for instance.

She doesn't defend anywhere near as well as Capriati at this point. She's more like Petkovic, the archetypal "power pusher", just with better technique.

JCTennisFan
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:11 AM
Ty (I think that was his name, the commentator with the dreads...) going on about how they text each other and how Serena's inspiration was why Stephens has become more successful just made me want to puke.

They need to stop with all the stereotypical shit. Get the black guy (never really ever seen him comentate before... he certaintly isnt a "regular" like Mary Joe, Pam, etc) with the Jamaican dreads and get him to go on about how Sloane was so inspired and in awe by Serena and Venus.

I mean come on, we know Serena and Venus are Champions... did they really have to go so far? Especially when there were bigger stories going on.... like Kim and Roddick retiring.

harloo
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:29 AM
I just hate how every single black tennis player is compared to the WS, and is automatically assumed to idolize the WS. Sloane doesn't even play like them, she's much closer to Capriati for instance.

Lies. Name one black player who has been compared to the sisters? James Blake and Chanda Rubin wasn't and neither was Sloane. I don't know where people are getting the comparison from either? The only thing I've heard is Serena is Sloane's mentor and she gives her advice from time to time. Sloane doesn't even play like Serena or have her skill set. She's underdeveloped at this point and has a lot of things to work on. The only similarity is their body types but otherwise their is nothing they have in common.

harloo
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:40 AM
Ty (I think that was his name, the commentator with the dreads...) going on about how they text each other and how Serena's inspiration was why Stephens has become more successful just made me want to puke.

They need to stop with all the stereotypical shit. Get the black guy (never really ever seen him comentate before... he certaintly isnt a "regular" like Mary Joe, Pam, etc) with the Jamaican dreads and get him to go on about how Sloane was so inspired and in awe by Serena and Venus.

I mean come on, we know Serena and Venus are Champions... did they really have to go so far? Especially when there were bigger stories going on.... like Kim and Roddick retiring.


The guy with the dreads was a bit over the top but the rest of the ESPN commentators are ten times worse when it comes to hyping up mediocre white American talent especially Chris Evert and Fowler. I think he was just giving them a taste of their own medicine.:tape::lol:

Also, I would rather them show more coverage of actual matches than drooling over Kim's departure or belly aching about Roddick leaving the game when they treated him like shit when he started losing more often due to injuries.

Yesterday live action was going on around the courts and ESPN spent about 30 minutes talking about Roddick. I mean it was so annoying, nobody has time for all that especially since Direct TV dropped their interactive programming. :o

We all knew the US Open was Kim's last tournament for a while and Roddick has been on his way out since last year. It wasn't a big shock to me but ESPN is playing Roddick's story up like a soap opera. When I saw the commercial of him running around in cheap Reebok's with the song End Of The Road playing in the background I almost puked.:tape: The funny thing is I like Roddick though but that commercial reminded me of the hype he received at the beginning of his career. It was just to much for a player who hadn't even accomplished anything significant.

dybbuk
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:46 AM
Lies. Name one black player who has been compared to the sisters? James Blake and Chanda Rubin wasn't and neither was Sloane. I don't know where people are getting the comparison from either? The only thing I've heard is Serena is Sloane's mentor and she gives her advice from time to time. Sloane doesn't even play like Serena or have her skill set. She's underdeveloped at this point and has a lot of things to work on. The only similarity is their body types but otherwise their is nothing they have in common.

I was speaking of women's players. And Chanda was pretty much contemporary with the WS, so of course she wouldn't have been compared. Madison Keys most definitely does, Sloane does, Townsend does and I remember people asking Jamea about the WS when she was coming up too. I wager you my house that EVERY SINGLE black female American in the past 7 years has to deal with questions about the WS, comparisons to the WS, whatever. How are these lies? Can you think of a black tennis player who never had to deal with people wondering if she was the next WS when they first started getting results?

harloo
Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:09 AM
I was speaking of women's players. And Chanda was pretty much contemporary with the WS, so of course she wouldn't have been compared. Madison Keys most definitely does, Sloane does, Townsend does and I remember people asking Jamea about the WS when she was coming up too. I wager you my house that EVERY SINGLE black female American in the past 7 years has to deal with questions about the WS, comparisons to the WS, whatever. How are these lies? Can you think of a black tennis player who never had to deal with people wondering if she was the next WS when they first started getting results?

Every new young black female player have been asked questions about the legendary Williams sisters as have most of the other American female talents. These are two American sisters who dominated women's tennis for a long period of time so it's only natural of the media to mention them.

However, their hasn't been one black female player(Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, or even Jamea) who has duplicated the sisters success to even be compared to them. I have never heard the media or any commentator compare any of the players you mentioned to Serena or Venus.:confused:

bobbynorwich
Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:22 AM
Even if there were some comparisons, it's hard to imagine that would add much to the pressure that Sloane herself, her coaches, family, agent, and fans put on her. Aside from the fact that her mother is a psychologist, the LONG article below indicates that Sloane is being well prepared and is emotionally stable enough for the pressures of being a tennis pro. Sounds like she's handling it well and that she blithely blows off any comparisons to the Williams.

Almost Famous

The making of Sloane Stephens, tennis star

By Louisa Thomas (http://www.grantland.com/contributor/_/name/louisa-thomas)

On August 28, 2012 Sloane Stephens was sitting in the shade outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, telling me that her life is normal — insisting upon it, really — when Mom called to say that soon there was a players' meeting in the referees' office, and that she had to be ready to appear in the stadium for Kids' Day, and then there was that American Express event — but first an agent was on his way with a man who needed her to sign some things.

Right on cue, a fit young guy from her agency and a large man carrying a duffle bag that appeared to be holding a dead body, or maybe ice hockey gear, appeared in front of us. The large man introduced himself as the owner of a business that authenticated autographs and memorabilia, and he explained to Stephens that she, or her people, had just closed a deal to have her sign some things.

Hundreds of things, it turned out. He pulled out a massive stack of notepad-size photographs. This, he explained, was hardly half of it; he had only brought with him 150 pictures and posters, and 51 tennis balls. ("Why 51?" Stephens asked. "Cans of three," Authentication Man answered.)

"Are there a lot of people asking for my signature?"
"Hope so," the man said.
"I mean, shit!"

Stephens is 19 years old. She came into last year's U.S. Open as the 106th best player in the world. Since then, her rank has jumped 60 positions, and her reputation has risen even faster. She has been slated for stardom. I had my doubts about how typical her life is — despite her efforts to convince me, or maybe herself, that it is. In a span of 30 minutes, she used the word normal a dozen times. Playing on the legendary main court at Roland Garros during the French Open was "just kind of normal." The U.S. Open was "hectic because it's a home slam … but other than that, it's just kind of — just kind of the same."

I mentioned that I sat across from her image on the subway on my way to meet her and noticed her picture on the bridge down to the tennis center. She thought that was nice, but not a big deal. "People are like, 'Oh my god, I rode to work with you today,' and I'm like, 'Oh, cool!' But other than that," she said, "it's pretty normal." I asked her about her relationship with the Williams sisters. She said it was "just normal friendship, regular." I tried to wrap my head around the idea of normal friendship with Serena Williams.

It was clear, in any event, that being paid to sign her name hundreds of times was not yet normal.

Stephens carefully picked a Sharpie of the right bluntness, debated where on the picture to sign, loosened her wrist, and slowly swooped down in a large S, looping across the page and punctuating her signature with a large heart. The man from the authentication company, who later let drop that he had just been out in Los Angeles "signing with Pete Sampras," watched her carefully replicate her signature and mentioned that Sampras signed autographs with remarkable speed.

"Someone should time me," Stephens said. The agent pulled out his phone to use as a stopwatch. "How long does it take Sloane to do 10 autographs?" She began to race the clock.

"Sloane, are you OK with me taking a photograph as an authentication?" the man asked as she signed. "That's totally fine." After a moment, she added, "What if I said 'no'? That would be really epic."

The mix of graceful and impish tendencies is a big reason why Stephens was hunched over the little table signing her name over and over, a big reason why she is so sought-after, even though, right now, she is ranked just inside the top 50. She is not the top American; she's not even the top young American. (That's 20-year-old Christina McHale, ranked 24.) But Stephens has obvious talent and unusual charisma.

While she signed, the man explained what that meant to him. People wanted the real thing. They wanted to know she had touched the pen. He told her that they thought she was going to be a star. Stephens listened to all of this and punctuated her speech with polite uh-huhs and cools. As he packed his giant camera away, she called out, "Nice to meet you!" with the brightness of a good-bye. But Authentication Man didn't leave. He had more for her to sign.

The new normal was getting weirder all the time. Stephens methodically moved through the stack until she came to a picture of Caroline Wozniacki, shiny and blonde, staring her in the face. "This the wrong girl!" Stephens declared.
The man pulled a stack of large posters out of the bag and set them in front of her. Stephens looked at the poster of herself and her Bambi eyes became bigger. She looked up. "Can I have one of these?"

The grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were pulsating on Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. There were kids dripping ice cream, kids in tears, kids vibrating with impatience as they looked for Roger Federer or Venus Williams while holding giant tennis balls. The lineup in the stadium included a "Call Me Maybe" flash mob (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Iq_N0mPEc) featuring the swimmer Missy Franklin.

If you went outside the gates, though, to a stretch of practice courts by the ramp to the subway, you could actually see some tennis. On the far end of the row of courts, not long before noon, Stephens sat on a bench by the net, wearing tiny little shorts and a T-shirt that read "LOVE." She was breathing hard and sipping from a bottle of orange Gatorade.

At her back, separated by a chain-link fence, stood a girl. The girl was maybe 13 years old, African American, large but with childish features. She inched toward Stephens, trying not to attract her attention. Her mother held up her phone to take a picture of her daughter with the back of Stephens's head. She waved her daughter right, right, and then a little to the left. Her daughter leaned this way and that, sending glances back at Stephens to make sure she wasn't noticing. Her mother clearly found the whole thing ridiculous. Finally, the mother said to Stephens in a loud voice, "Would you mind turning around for a photograph?" Embarrassment bloomed across the daughter's face as Stephens slowly turned her head. "Suuuure," Stephens said, with a hint of exhaustion and reluctance. But then she smiled. It's an amazing smile, full and dimpled, softening her slender, angular face. She has perfect teeth. The girl smiled, too; the picture was taken; and the girl half-ran, half-tiptoed away, elated. For a moment, there were no spectators, only silence. Stephens slowly turned her head back and sat very still. Sweat glistened on her face.

"My face is burning like a Hot Pocket," she said to her coach, David Nainkin. "What?" Nainkin asked. "My face is burning," she said, her voice more serious, and slowly gathered herself to return to the court.

It was her second practice of the day. Nainkin, who recently began working with Stephens, is trying to encourage her to take the openings that her powerful groundstrokes create, and he wanted her to work on her swinging volleys. Stephens glided toward the net, turning her powerful shoulders before taking the ball out of the air around neck-level. Her racket moved like a whip; the ball moved even faster. Nainkin pointed out a target, a little pyramid of tennis balls close to the opposite service line, which I hadn't noticed. I'm not sure Stephens had either; one of her shots hit the fence. Others sailed out by yards. Nainkin looked focused but bemused.

After a while, he called her back to the baseline to hit some serves. She tossed the ball up with a casual motion. I cannot describe the sound her racket made against the ball. It was ballistic. On the next court over, two players were also serving. One of them, Tsvetana Pironkova, was a semifinalist at Wimbledon two years ago. Pironkova's racket made nice little thwacks against the ball. Stephens was doing something else, hitting bass against the altos on the next court over.

As soon as Stephens started to serve, people started to gather to watch her. The chain-link fence along the practice court is a net that catches all sorts of passersby, from avid fans to couples walking through the park. Hearing the thump of the balls, kids came over to hang on the fence and stare. As soon as Stephens was done, the crowd began to move on, walking to the stadium, the train, the next practice court. Stephens didn't look at them, packing her rackets away in her bag. One skinny boy, no more than 7 or 8 years old, shouted, "Hey, Venus!" Stephens didn't look up.

Because Stephens is a powerful, female, African American tennis player, and because tennis remains a mostly white sport, her name comes up quickly when people discuss the State of American Tennis in a post–Williams sisters world. These conversations tend to be pretty ridiculous, as Stephens is quick to point out. "I don't even know why people want to talk about it," Stephens said. "They're both still playing" — and dominating.

No one has been better, or hungrier, than Serena this summer, and even though Venus has been slowed by an autoimmune disorder, she is still more than capable of winning big matches. Still, the comparisons won't go away. Race is a subtext. So is the public's insatiable desire for whatever comes next.

Stephens's background is not like the legendary beginnings of the Williams sisters — the inner-city courts, the crazy/genius father, the relentless and obsessive molding of champions. Stephens started playing tennis when she was 9, at the country club across the street from her childhood home in Fresno, California. She didn't take it too seriously at first, she says, but she kept playing when her family moved to Florida, and she has thrived within the USTA system. Her mother, Sybil Smith, a psychologist, was the first African American female to become a first-team All-American swimmer (http://www.goterriers.com/hallfame/stephens-sybil-smith.html). She is the strongest presence in Stephens's life.

Sloane didn't know her father, John Stephens, a former NFL running back, growing up. Her parents divorced when she was young. It wasn't until John learned that he had a degenerative disease that he and Sloane started to speak by phone. He died in a car accident just before the 2009 U.S. Open. As if that weren't hard enough, Smith told the New York Times's Karen Crouse (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/05/sports/tennis/05stephens.html) that, after John's death, Sloane learned from the Internet that her father had been arrested twice for sexual assault (the second charge was pending when he died; to the first, in 1994, he pleaded guilty). "I'm telling you, John was a very good man with addiction issues that were never addressed early on," Smith told Crouse. However traumatic that experience was for Stephens, she appears to have handled it with strength.

Stephens carries herself with a preternatural poise. If she does share something with the Williams sisters, whom she talks about with admiration and gratitude in her voice, it's a quality of self-possession. It manifests itself in different ways from theirs — it's more accessible — but it's undeniable. She will probably need it.

Tennis is a solitary sport and the tour can be a lonely place. Stephens is extroverted and intensely social — she says that the first thing she does when she wakes up is check her Twitter account (https://twitter.com/sloanetweets). (After she reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros, she charmed the press by saying, "I'm excited, because now I'm going to have more Twitter followers.") Yet she doesn't have many close friends on tour, she said. She spends most of her time on the road with any family members traveling with her. "I don't really venture out with any of the girls or anything like that," she said. I asked her if the other girls do. "I don't know. Maybe. Kind of. Sort of." She is away from home for most of the year.

Women's tennis had such serious (and visible) problems with burnout that it instituted an age-eligibility rule. The rule is one reason why, at 19, Stephens is still considered young in a sport that was once dominated by teenagers. The WTA has created an education program to help young players prepare for the financial, physical, and mental pressures of a life on the tour, the tour's CEO, Stacey Allaster, told me, and she pointed to the results: longer careers, fewer players who experience some kind of crisis. She described "dedicated staff members" and hotlines, "educational modules" and meetings.

It all sounded professional and helpful. At the same time, the fact is that no program can totally prepare a young person for what her life might become. Female athletes in other sports don't face what an ascendent tennis player does: the pressure to perform alone on a huge stage with high financial stakes, not once every four years (as with the Olympics) but four times every year.

A year ago, Stephens reached the third round at the U.S. Open. She followed that result up by making it into the second week at the French Open and with a third-round finish at Wimbledon. She has never beaten a top-10 player.

During the last year, Stephens has outplayed high-ranked players for long stretches at a time, but her game has deserted her at times, too. Last week, she played the 11th-ranked player in the world, Marion Bartoli, in New Haven. Stephens lost the first set 6-1, won the second 6-0, and was up 3-0 in the third before losing 6-3. I asked Stephens what happened. "She came out playing really well," Stephens said. "I played some good games, then she — I was still playing well, it was kind of going back and forth, she played a great third set, and that was pretty much it." Aha.

I brought up some comments Stephens has made about her concentration lapses in the past, but she cut me off. "Yeah, I think I said that in two press conferences, and then everyone was like, 'Oh, you're ADD.' No … I don't think concentration was to blame for that at all."

Her U.S. Open first-round match, in Louis Armstrong Stadium, was against Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone is 13 years older than Stephens and a former French Open champion. As the 22nd seed, the Italian was technically favored, but Stephens was certainly capable of beating her — and she did, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. It wasn't the cleanest match. Schiavone is a fighter, and Stephens tightened up, especially with a couple of match points. But the American was clearly the better player, at times thrillingly so. On her last match point, she shot a forehand down the line and flashed the smile. It lit the crowd's eruption.

Stephens is not going to win a slam as a teenager, but the bigger expectation, the reason people are banking on her, is that her talent and her personality will steady, as well as fuel, her ascent. She is dealing with AmEx ads and kids wearing "Team Sloane" T-shirts, interviews and agents, the long and exhausting sprint of self-promotion. At the same time, I noticed that when she left the practice court, she filled her arms with half a dozen abandoned plastic water bottles and carried them to a recycling bin. It was a tiny gesture, probably meaningless, but it stood out. She has a team of people to help her, but she will take care of the courts herself.

As she walked back toward the stadium, people picked her out of the crowd, even if they didn't yet know why. Two women stopped her in the path. "Can we take a picture with you?" one asked. Stephens obliged.

Then the woman asked, "What's your name?"
She answered, simply, "Sloane."


http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8309613/rising-tennis-star-sloane-stephens-us-open

Morrissey
Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:23 AM
It isn't fair to Sloane to be compared to the Williams Sisters they were exceptional. I understand tennis is still a predominately white sport but putting pressure on Sloane isn't going to help her. It seems to me that Sloane is struggling with the expectations her capitulation to Ivanovic is perfect example of crumbling under the pressure. The worst part in Sloane's loss to Ivanovic is she had so many chance to win the match in straight sets.

I also don't like how Sloane is so chatty to the media she needs to realize the press is not her friend. Sloane needs to get it through her head she's got to continue to work hard and get the results first.

The USA media always build up these young players and put too much pressure and expectations on to them.

bobbynorwich
Sep 3rd, 2012, 02:00 AM
I also don't like how Sloane is so chatty to the media she needs to realize the press is not her friend. Sloane needs to get it through her head she's got to continue to work hard and get the results first.
.

Being her usual open self and showing her real personality, she's totally charmed reporters in her pressers which is why she's becoming so popular.

Fed recognized early on that he could use the media to his advantage and gave long, patient interviews with lots of info --- and gets great media coverage.

She seems to be handling the pressure very well and is working hard to improve. She doesn't sound at all like a Don (I'm entitled) Young who likes to rest on his junior laurels.

:cool:

Stamp Paid
Sep 3rd, 2012, 02:02 AM
Being her usual open self and showing her real personality, she's totally charmed reporters in her pressers which is why she's becoming so popular.

Fed recognized early on that he could use the media to his advantage and gave long, patient interviews with lots of info --- and gets great media coverage.

She seems to be handling the pressure very well and is working hard to improve. She doesn't sound at all like a Don (I'm entitled) Young who likes to rest on his junior laurels.

:cool:Yes. Donald Young is one of those entitled, uppity ones, huh?

miffedmax
Sep 3rd, 2012, 02:34 AM
Being her usual open self and showing her real personality, she's totally charmed reporters in her pressers which is why she's becoming so popular.

Fed recognized early on that he could use the media to his advantage and gave long, patient interviews with lots of info --- and gets great media coverage.

She seems to be handling the pressure very well and is working hard to improve. She doesn't sound at all like a Don (I'm entitled) Young who likes to rest on his junior laurels.

:cool:

I've never gotten that kind of a vibe of Donald Young :shrug:. Or Sock or McHale for that matter.

darrinbaker00
Sep 3rd, 2012, 03:40 AM
I've never gotten that kind of a vibe of Donald Young :shrug:. Or Sock or McHale for that matter.

You haven't been paying close enough attention to young Mr. Young:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/bruce_jenkins/04/26/donald.young/index.html

fawnrc
Sep 3rd, 2012, 03:42 AM
Never thought that about Donald either. But after Isner beat Andy he rubbed me as someone who thinks quite a bit more of himself than he should.

Back on topic...Sloan should be careful...the media will turn on her eventually and she is away to passive.

DOUBLEFIST
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:14 AM
I have to agree with the OP. there's a tendency to attempt to viewer through this prism of Williams style tennis, and I think this is largely due to the fact that she's black, coming up in a post Williams emergence era and plays at a high-level. What I find especially troublesome is the fact that commentators-Navratilova especially-try to make her out to be something that she's not and urge her to play a style in which she is obviously uncomfortable. they say "Sloane is very athletic," and needs to play or in fact does play high risk tennis. I got to say, I've seen no evidence of this. in my opinion, she seems to have strong athletic skill but nowhere in Williams' class athletics. and frankly, seems to push more than suits my tastes. when I was listening to Navratilova talk about her in her last match against Ivanovic I kept having to rub my eyes to see if I was looking at the same person she was talking about.

tennisbear7
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:18 AM
Sloane is athletic and powerful but when Sarin was 19 she was winning the US Open. End of discussion.

JeMa
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:20 AM
She is Serena's protegee. Serena is officially her mentor so I think it's okay.

bobbynorwich
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:22 AM
You haven't been paying close enough attention to young Mr. Young:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/bruce_jenkins/04/26/donald.young/index.html

That's right, the no longer young 23-year-old Donald is in the media doghouse because he demanded respect where none was due and thumbed his nose at reporters.

His is a very different story from Sloane's who has remained grounded on & off the court, focused on improving, embraced the USTA development program, and not expected special treatment from the USTA or media. Sloane has done everything right and by just being herself should reap the benefits of very favorable media coverage.
.
Re Donald http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/bruce_jenkins/04/26/donald.young/index.html (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/bruce_jenkins/04/26/donald.young/index.html)

JeMa
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:23 AM
I have to agree with the OP. there's a tendency to attempt to viewer through this prism of Williams style tennis, and I think this is largely due to the fact that she's black, coming up in a post Williams emergence era and plays at a high-level. What I find especially troublesome is the fact that commentators-Navratilova especially-try to make her out to be something that she's not and urge her to play a style in which she is obviously uncomfortable. they say "Sloane is very athletic," and needs to play or in fact does play high risk tennis. I got to say, I've seen no evidence of this. in my opinion, she seems to have strong athletic skill but nowhere in Williams' class athletics. and frankly, seems to push more than suits my tastes. when I was listening to Navratilova talk about her in her last match against Ivanovic I kept having to rub my eyes to see if I was looking at the same person she was talking about.

Sloane is the child of a football player and a swimmer. I think her athleticism might be better than Serena's she just doesn't seem to have the raw tennis talent as the Williams, she didn't have a Richard in that instance. She needs more experience and coaching to become great.

Stamp Paid
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:27 AM
Sloane is the child of a football player and a swimmer. I think her athleticism might be better than Serena's she just doesn't seem to have the raw tennis talent as the Williams, she didn't have a Richard in that instance. She needs more experience and coaching to become great.No.

tennisbum79
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:29 AM
For me, it is simple.

How prepared is anyone who is anointed with a role of the next big thing tor her country.
And in this particular case, I do not think Sloane is ready to handle the pressure associated with it.

DOUBLEFIST
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:29 AM
Sloane is the child of a football player and a swimmer. I think her athleticism might be better than Serena's she just doesn't seem to have the raw tennis talent as the Williams, she didn't have a Richard in that instance. She needs more experience and coaching to become great.

that's certainly no guarantee of athletic skill. it's a good indicator of athletic POTENTIAL but no guarantee.

It's very evident right now that she is not as fast as Serena. She is not as strong as Serena, nor does she have the movement/agility of Serena. if you go back and compare 19-year-old Serena Williams to 19-year-old Sloane Stephens it's night and day in terms of the above-mentioned raw athletic criteria. It's not even close.

bobbynorwich
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:43 AM
Sloane is the child of a football player and a swimmer. I think her athleticism might be better than Serena's she just doesn't seem to have the raw tennis talent as the Williams, she didn't have a Richard in that instance. She needs more experience and coaching to become great.

She's getting fabulous grand slam experience in 2012 and great coaching from Roger Smith and the USTA development program, but just as importantly she benefits from support of a well-grounded family.

Revealing article about Sloane:
http://espn.go.com/espnw/more-sports/7996515/2012-french-open-sloane-stephens-living-teenage-dream

:lick:

mykarma
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:49 AM
You stay whining about bad reps as if no one on this board has ever gotten a bad rep from anyone

And how the hell did you detect anger from that 'you need to stop opening threads' post? :spit: classic
Looks like you're proving Tennisbum right.

mykarma
Sep 3rd, 2012, 04:58 AM
Yes. Donald Young is one of those entitled, uppity ones, huh?
Ummmh

LUVMIRZA
Sep 3rd, 2012, 05:42 AM
She looks like a slimmer verson of Serena. Serena should coach her once she retires.

JCTennisFan
Sep 3rd, 2012, 06:05 AM
The guy with the dreads was a bit over the top but the rest of the ESPN commentators are ten times worse when it comes to hyping up mediocre white American talent especially Chris Evert and Fowler. I think he was just giving them a taste of their own medicine.:tape::lol:

Also, I would rather them show more coverage of actual matches than drooling over Kim's departure or belly aching about Roddick leaving the game when they treated him like shit when he started losing more often due to injuries.

Yesterday live action was going on around the courts and ESPN spent about 30 minutes talking about Roddick. I mean it was so annoying, nobody has time for all that especially since Direct TV dropped their interactive programming. :o

We all knew the US Open was Kim's last tournament for a while and Roddick has been on his way out since last year. It wasn't a big shock to me but ESPN is playing Roddick's story up like a soap opera. When I saw the commercial of him running around in cheap Reebok's with the song End Of The Road playing in the background I almost puked.:tape: The funny thing is I like Roddick though but that commercial reminded me of the hype he received at the beginning of his career. It was just to much for a player who hadn't even accomplished anything significant.

Well said :yeah: .