By PAT FLYNN
Important: I don’t even like Serena Williams. Even a little.
If you’re Sloan Stephens today, on a scale of 1-10 how do you feel about beating Serena Williams? Yeah, yeah, she’s one of your heroes and one of the best in the world. She was riding a 20-match win streak too. But Williams’ play was hindered by back spasms and an ankle injury and the power that makes Serena, well, Serena, was clearly lacking.
Regardless, the big story around the world today is that Stephens, the 19-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., downed the No. 3 seeded Williams 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the Australian Open quarterfinals. It’s got to be a little sweeter for Stephens after feeling disrespected at their last match where she fell in straight sets (video above).
The No. 29 seeded Stephens is getting the press and adulation that comes with a 19-year-old up-and-comer beating the present best from her own country. And it’s a cool story. But it is just so obvious how desperate the press was to run with this.
The real story is Stephens has shown she can beat Serena at maybe 70 percent. That’s what we know. Stephens knows it. She saw full-strength Serena and deemed that beast disrespectful. But people on TV are acting like this was a straight up win or talking about how dominant Stephens was and then qualifying it with a sentence about Williams’ injuries at the end of their segment.
To Stephens’ credit, in their first match, she showed an ability to play Williams’ game that most can’t even dream of keeping up with.
Next time they meet, Serena is going to try to shove the ball down Stephens’ throat. It’s a thing she does.