Sloane's success keeping her from making the grade

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-07 07:18

NEW YORK - Sloane Stephens worked toward a college degree while sidelined 11 months with a left foot injury, but her run to the US Open semifinals has delivered a blow to her hopes of graduating on time.

After beating Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6 7-6 (4) on Tuesday, Stephens said her Grand Slam success has prevented her from getting her homework done.

"I'm actually going to fail my last semester of college because I'm here and I haven't submitted any work in like three weeks," she said. "That's another part of life that is really stressing me right now."

Stephens, ranked 83rd, is studying for a degree as part of a program the WTA has with Indiana University East.

"I'm supposed to graduate in the middle of December, but I probably won't because I'm here and continue to be here," she said.

Still, Stephens wouldn't trade her chance at a first Grand Slam title for all the A-plus papers she could write.

"Playing tennis is an amazing thing and I'm lucky that I'm able to play a sport for a living," she said.

"It was just kind of eyeopening. When I wasn't playing of course I loved my time off, but when I got back to playing tennis, it was like, 'This is where I want to be. This is what I love doing.'"

Stephens lost her first-round match at Wimbledon in her injury comeback and her first match at Washington in her return to the hardcourts.

Since then, she made semifinal runs at tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati and matched her best-ever Slam run from the 2013 Australian Open.

"If someone would have told me when I started at Wimbledon that I'd be in the semifinals or making three semifinals in a row, I would have said they're crazy," Stephens said.

"I'm just happy to be playing really well and happy that my foot is good and my body is holding up."

Stephens said she can't really recall what it was like to reach the last four in Melbourne more than four years ago.

"I'd say the first one was quite overwhelming, but this one feels good," she said.

Stephens has a deeper perspective mentally than she did before.

"I think my head is a little clearer," she said.

"Before, I was playing well. I had won a couple tournaments. But being injured gave me a whole new perspective on tennis, on life, and just in general.

"I think I have a better perspective and I'm looking at the game totally different. Just happy with where I'm at. Just looking to build on it. I couldn't really ask for a better way to come back."

At one stage, Stephens had a rod on her leg and a cast on her foot.

"I was walking on a peg leg, so that whole 15 weeks was super tough," she said.

"I couldn't walk, I couldn't do all the things that I wanted to do. But I did get to hang out with my family and see my little cousin's soccer games and go to weddings. All the things that I thought I was missing out on, I really wasn't."

Agence France-presse

Sloane's success keeping her from making the grade

(China Daily 09/07/2017 page22)

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