The hug seen around the world. After Sloane Stephens closed out the U.S. Open with a victory over her close friend Madison Keys, she embraced her with a hug. This hug lasted 19 seconds, showing the depth of their friendship.  Stephens defeated Keys 6-3,6-0 Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.


Stephens started playing tennis at the age of nine. After a successful career in the junior division, she went on to pursue a professional career. She played her first professional event in 2007, but it wouldn’t be until 2011 where she would earn her recognition. She eventually went on to win her first International Tennis Federation championship at the 2011 Camparini Gioielli Cup. In 2013, she reached her career high ranking of the world number 17 after reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open. Stephens struggled in 2014 but would bounce back in 2015 to win her first career title at the Citi Open. Last year, Stephens continued her success by winning three Women’s Tennis Association titles.


At the end of January, Stephens underwent foot surgery. Aware she may not be able compete for the U.S. Open, she trained vigorously. According to The New York Times, Stephens said she thought it was impossible to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Stephens was ranked 957th last month after bouncing back from surgery.


If the rankings tell any story, it would be that nothing is impossible. Stephens became the lowest ranked player to win the U.S. Open in the Open era. Her path to the cup was not an easy one as five of her six opponents were ranked in the top 30. One of those matches happen to be against one of the best tennis players in the world, Venus Williams. The match happened to be a good one. Williams dropped the first set 6-1 but came back to shut out Stephens 6-0. In their final outing, Stephens would prevail 7-5 over Williams.


After the match, Stephens continued to reiterate how she was at a lost of words regarding how far she has come. “I have no words to describe what it took, what I’m feeling, the journey I took to get here. I have no idea (how I got here). Your guess is just as good as mine,” said the 24 year old Stephens in an interview with USA Today.


Stephens would go on to face Keys in the U.S. Open final. In better form than ever, Stephens aced her good friend in back to back sets. Keys, although securing the runner up position, was glad that she lost to her great friend instead of anyone else.


Serena Williams, who is sitting out due of her pregnancy, was very proud of the two and spoke on how they will continue to change the game and bring excellence, power, finesse, and change to the game of tennis.


Stephens earned a whopping $3.7 million for winning the Open. As the young superstar has claimed her throne, the only question left is what is next for the new champion?


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