In a quarterfinal matchup of Americans at the Australian Open, 19-year-old Sloane Stephens will take on Serena Williams. Williams has won 15 major singles titles; this is Stephens' first quarterfinal match at a Grand Slam event.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Sloane Stephens does not want your pity, not even if she is about to face fellow American Serena Williams, winner of 15 major singles titles and 20 straight matches, many of them mismatches.
“I’m ready to play already,” Stephens said of Tuesday’s match. “Let’s just get to it. I really think it’s going to be fun.”
This will be the 35th Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal for the 31-year-old Williams. It will be the first for Stephens, a 19-year-old from Los Angeles who has a personality nearly as lively as her footwork.
Stephens, who made a run to the fourth round of last year’s French Open, said, “I think I’ve just worked so hard for it that I just feel like now it’s supposed to come.”
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Ranked 25th at the moment, Stephens is guaranteed to break into the top 20 in the rankings, which makes her the statistical leader of a promising generation of U.S. women that includes Christina McHale, Jamie Hampton, Melanie Oudin and 17-year-old Madison Keys.
The last time two U.S. women met in a Grand Slam quarterfinal was at the 2008 U.S. Open, where Serena beat her older sister, Venus. The last three times before that were in 2004, when Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati played in the quarterfinals of all but one of the Grand Slam events.
Serena Williams and Stephens bonded as Fed Cup teammates last year on a trip to Ukraine. They have spent time together on and off the court in Los Angeles and finally played each other earlier this month in Brisbane, Australia, with Williams winning 6-4, 6-3 in a quarterfinal.
In Brisbane, Stephens remarked during a changeover that Williams’ on-court shouts of “Come on!” were “disrespectful.” She later said she was joking.
Li Na of China advanced to the semifinals in Melbourne for the third time in four years, bringing fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska’s 13-match winning streak to a halt.
Sixth-seeded Li beat her Polish opponent 7-5, 6-3 and next will face No. 2 Maria Sharapova. Sharapova beat No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 in a quarterfinal matchup of Russians.