Stephens flunking out thanks to best Open run

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

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.

Stephens admitted on Tuesday after beating Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6 7-6 (4) that she isn't getting her classwork done thanks to her Grand Slam success.

"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," Stephens 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.

"December 14 I'm supposed to graduate 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," Stephens said.

"It was just kind of eye opening. 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 hardcourt comeback start.

Best-ever Slam

Since then, she made semifinal runs at tuneup events 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 back to back, I would have said they're crazy," Stephens said.

"Just happy to be playing really well and happy that my foot is good and I don't have any pain 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 just 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 just 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 and baby showers and stuff. All the things that I thought before I was missing out on, I really wasn't."

AFP

American Sloane Stephens celebrates her 6-3, 3-6 7-6 (4) win over Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the US Open women's quarterfinals at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 5, 2017.


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