If American tennis – at least on the women’s side – is in the hands of Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, then it’s in great shape.
After Stephens’s, 6-3 6-0 dispatching of Keys in the Final today, she lit up the room in her post-game press conference, with engaging and honest responses to the press.
When asked about the hunger to win another slam, she responded, “Of course, Girl. Did you see that check that lady handed me? Like, yes. Man, if that doesn’t make you want to play tennis, I don’t know what will. Man.”
And when asked what she was thinking about when she held the trophy, Stephens said, “So when I was taking my pictures, I was worried about like my boob sweat. Because I was, like, this is a picture they are probably going to use and I look terrible. That’s what I remember most about the picture. Sorry.”
Even Keys, who was upset about the loss got into the act, repeating that Stephens will be buying her drinks tonight.
This is what tennis needs here in the United States. It doesn’t just need stars, but personalities. It needs the general audience to see that these girls are real people, who can entertain, not just on the court, but off of it.
Stephens, hopefully will continue her chance to dazzle. Maybe she will be on Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert this week to talk about her remarkable victory.
Tennis needs that. They need young girls to see personalities like Keys and Stephens and say they want to be like them.
That was the case for Stephens, who idolized Serena Williams and took up tennis because of her. The next generation will look to Stephens leading the way with Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe not far behind and emulate their play.
For all the good work they have done and the greatness on the court they have shown, the Williams Sisters do live very guarded lives. They carefully pick and choose their answers and try to keep on the positive side of the news.
Over the years, their wins – especially Serena’s – have become maybe a little too routine and you want to pull for someone else. Now America have another victor in Stephens, who is showing the world how real she can be.
Stephens, Keys, and Vandeweghe have been around the circuit for a while. They have played well, but never broke through to the top like these past two weeks.
Now everything has changed. It wouldn’t be surprising to see two or all three of them live in the Top 10 in the rankings and playing to at least the middle of the second week in slams become common place.
Having that kind of success makes tennis grow in this country. Having nice women with good personalities as champions give young girls – and boys too – role models.
Today there’s a youngster out there who watched this match and wants to pick up a tennis racquet for the first time. One day that person may have the same thoughts as Stephens, as she won the US Open.
“Wow, how insane?,” Stephens said. “I actually won the US Open. Wow. What a moment. I think it was a little bit of just, like, Wow. I mean, it’s hard to explain, obviously. Winning a tournament is extremely special, but winning the US Open, being an American player, is even more incredible.
“I think it was a big moment for both of us. Yeah, it’s just insane.”
Insane? Not really. More like this is just what the sport needed in the United States.
Let’s hope the party continues.