Black Girl Magic enchants U.S. Open as Sloane Stephens captures first Grand Slam
In a decisive straight set victory over fellow American Madison Keys, 24-year-old Sloane Stephens won her first U.S. Open championship.
To many, Stephen's win was not just a huge win for her but a win for the diversity of the sport, as well as a spectacular spectacle of black girl magic.
Coming into the tournament, Stephens faced significant adversity and was thought to have a low chance of winning. She was unranked, and competing in her first major tournament since her foot surgery.
"I had surgery January 23rd and if someone had told me then that I would win the U.S. Open. 'It's impossible' I would say." Sloane said after her victory.
On her road to the championship Stephens beat out German Julia Gorges (30th ranked), Latvian Anastasija Sevastova (16th ranked), and most notably ninth ranked American Venus Williams.
Stephens said that Williams has been a role-model for her on and off the court.
"Venus, we are following in her footsteps. She's been here. She represented the game so well as an African American woman. [Madeline Keys] and I are here to join her and represent just as well as venus has in the past," Stephens said of Williams following her U.S. Open Championship win.
Following her 6-1, 0-6, 7-5, win over Williams, Stephens faced off against Madison Keys. Keys, who identifies as biracial (half black and half white) is another young, up and coming American tennis star also in her first finals appearance.
Stephens dominated the match using a unique combination of defensive shots and attacks to keep Keys on her toes throughout the match. Stephens consistency forced Keys to make the biggest mistake of the match, which allowed her to roll through the match and win in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
After the match, Sloane lovingly embraced Keys, who she has often referred to as a close friend.
"Maddie is one of my bestest friends on tour and to play her here, honestly I wouldn't have wanted to play anyone else, but for us both to be here is such a special moment," she said.
Not only has this been the first final with two Americans since 2002 -- the last being the iconic Williams sisters -- it is also one of few finals matches with two people of color. Stephens is only the sixth black athlete and the fourth black woman to win a grand slam title, the first being Althea Gibson and the other two being the Williams sisters.
Tennis is a predominately white and affluent sport. When the Williams sisters came onto the scene in the 90's they represented a new, more diverse face for tennis.
For so long the Williams sisters have been the face of African American's in tennis, however, Stephens rise as well as the rise as other African American tennis stars such as Madison Keys represent the new and changing face of tennis.
This new face of tennis is more inclusive, more vibrant, has a lot more #blackgirlmagic, and is a lot of fun to watch.