US teen Stephens gets to 4th round at French Open

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 01, 2012
Well, that's settled: 19-year-old Sloane Stephens is bumping herself up to first class for the flight home from the French Open, whenever that might be. That extra-comfy trip back to Florida is among the benefits the American is looking forward to after reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros by beating Mathilde Johansson of France 6-3, 6-2 Friday. Another perk? ''Now I'm going to have more Twitter followers,'' explained the bubbly Stephens, the only teenager left at the fourth, and most successful, Grand Slam tournament of her nascent career. ''That's good. I'm excited. I mean, it's always good to be noticed and recognized.'' She'd better get used to both. With her ever-improving game, athletic parents - her late father, John Stephens, played in the NFL; her mother, Sybil Smith, was Boston University's first All-American in women's swimming - and infectious personality, Stephens might just be the next big thing in U.S. tennis. Asked what her daughter's greatest strength is, Smith said: ''Probably her mental fortitude. She's a really happy-go-lucky kind of person, and she doesn't let things get her down. She's resilient. She's incredibly resilient.'' That attribute helped last month, when Stephens was in Europe and struggling a bit. Something had to change, so she cut out candy and her two-a-day orange soda habit - ''I was like, `Whoa, that's a lot of sugar,''' she said - and made a key telephone call, asking Smith and an aunt to travel overseas and be with her. ''The only way to go was up. So my mom came, and my aunt came, and that helped me a lot, because I don't know what was going on. ... I was having brain farts and things weren't going my way,'' Stephens said. ''I was being 19, and I think now I am being 29. So I think my mom and aunt definitely helped me through the last couple of weeks. I'm very grateful for that.'' She ended a three-match losing streak by qualifying for the Italian Open, where she reached the second round, then got to her first WTA semifinal at Strasbourg. And now there's a breakout performance at Roland Garros, where the toughest test yet will come when Stephens faces reigning U.S. Open champion and 2010 French Open runner-up Sam Stosur with a quarterfinal berth at stake. ''My goal coming into the French Open was just (to) play hard. I mean, there's nothing else you can do. Play hard, fight hard, you know, run every ball down. Winning or losing, really, it didn't matter,'' the 70th-ranked Stephens said. ''I was kind of like, `I know, if I just do the right things, that good things will happen.''' She gave Johansson all sorts of trouble in the French Open's main stadium, silencing the partisan crowd and putting together a 26-10 edge in winners. Stephens also broke Johansson in seven of her nine service games. ''She's so powerful. She can hit winners on any type of ball,'' the 93rd-ranked Johansson said. ''I didn't really know what to do to fight back. She didn't give me any easy points,'' Johansson added. ''I had to fight for each point, each game, and, frankly, I think she was a lot tougher than I was. ... She was quite impressive.'' That's a good word to describe Stephens in front of a microphone, too. After her second-round victory in Paris, Stephens joked about wanting to keep winning because Smith ''is spoiled rotten, so she's going to want to fly first class home or something.'' When she guaranteed herself about $100,000 in prize money by reaching the fourth round, Stephens said she'll ''definitely, definitely'' be purchasing a fancier airplane ticket for herself. As for whether her mom and aunt will be traveling that way, too, Stephens replied with a wink: ''I don't know what they're going to be doing, but I know where I'm going to be.'' --- Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Roger Goodell unaware of Tunsil situation during NFL Draft

Report: Myles Jack's knee ‘more troubling’ than Jaylon Smith’s

Report: Sam Bradford won’t take calls or texts from Eagles

Report: Fired financial adviser behind Laremy Tunsil leaks

Report: NFL concussion settlement being held up by nine former players wanting more


WATCH: TJ Oshie completes hat trick with OT goal

Joey Bosa: ‘I have to show teams that I’ve changed’

Photo: Johnny Manziel at Ohio bar watching NFL Draft

Alabama assistant reportedly leaving program due to potential recruiting violations

Carmelo Anthony: It would be ‘a problem’ if Knicks coaching search is not extensive

Is this it for Ducks' Bruce Boudreau?

How the OKC Thunder became obsessed with halal

Best and worst from first round of NHL Playoffs

Manziel foots bill for 300 shots of whiskey on draft night

Five biggest Round 1 snubs of the 2016 NFL Draft

Eli Apple once trolled Giants fans on Twitter

Justin Verlander goes off on PED rules after Dee Gordon news announced

Top 10 takeaways from Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft

Report: ‘Nothing going on’ with Colin Kaepernick trade to Broncos

Patriots make statement with Instagram post of Tom Brady

Ezekiel Elliott wears his signature crop top on red carpet

DirecTV eliminates extra charge to NFL Sunday Ticket customers to stream games online

The return of Joe Mauer

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 biggest takeaways from the NBA playoffs thus far

QUIZ: Name every No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft since 1985

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Sharks vs. Predators

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Blues vs. Stars

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Capitals vs. Penguins

10 bold predictions for the first round of the NFL Draft

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Lightning vs. Islanders

Four surprises from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

QUIZ: Name every MLB player to hit four home runs in one game

The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs' 'road ice advantage'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker