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 http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

NFL owners reportedly concerned with Raiders-gang connections in LA

T'Wolves getting calls about Rubio ahead of trade deadline

Jarryd Hayne wants to return to NFL

Jones: I ‘scream in my pillow’ being at Super Bowl, not in it

Phil Jackson reportedly does not have opt-out until 2017

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

Franchise tag has been a useful tool for John Elway, Broncos

The 16 best NBA All-Star Game sneakers ever

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

Prediction for each NBA award heading into the All-Star Break

Did Clippers reenact Paul Pierce stabbing during pregame intros?

Kobe Bryant gives LeBron James his game-worn Kobe 11s

Terrell Owens tells Skip Bayless to stop ‘misinforming’ people

8-year-old Panthers fan writes adorable letter to Cam Newton

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker