In the span of one week, Sloane Stephens has gone from virtual afterthought to the United States’ last hope for a 2013 Wimbledon title. As of Tuesday, the 20-year-old is the last American singles player, male or female, remaining in the tournament.
Stephens’ road to Wimbledon’s fourth round hasn’t been easy. After a strong showing in January’s Australian Open, the 20-year-old struggled to maintain her form; she endured a four-month stretch without winning back-to-back matches, the Boston Globe reports. ‘‘It was a bad time,’’ Stephens said.
It didn’t take long for Stephens to return to form. She played her way into the second week of the French Open in June, and reached the Wimbledon 2013 quarterfinals with Monday’s three-set victory over upstart Monica Puig. For Stephens, the key to overcoming the adversity was to remember all of the work she had put in to become one of the world’s premiere women’s tennis players.
“I'm top 20 in the world for a reason. I didn't, like, all of a sudden, snap my fingers and I got good,’’ Stephens told reporters. ‘‘I put in a lot of work. [It] took a lot of sweat [and], like, ‘bad hair’ days, all that other stuff, to get to where I was. I realize that I just couldn’t let that go to waste. I had to get back to work.’’
On Tuesday morning, Stephens will take on Marion Bartoli—a No. 15 seed at Wimbledon—for the chance to advance to Wimbledon’s semifinals. A victory would allow Stephens to reach the second major semifinal of her career, the Boston Globe reports. However, the road will not be an easy one—Bartoli reached the Wimbledon final in 2007 (losing to Serena Williams) and has reached major quarterfinals on six occasions.
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The 2013 Wimbledon women’s singles tournament has presented Stephens with a rare opportunity. Williams, a fellow American and six-time Wimbledon champion, has already been eliminated, having lost on Monday to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki. With the defeat of the ever-dangerous Maria Sharapova and the withdrawal of second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, the stage is set for Stephens to assert herself among the elite of women’s tennis.