At 20, Sloane Stephens is already the stuff of legend. The rising tennis star is the offspring of two big-time athletes: Her mother, Sybil Smith, was Boston University’s 1988 All-American swim champion; her father is John Stephens, who, after a promising NFL start with the New England Patriots, spiraled into drug addiction, run-ins with the law, and died tragically in 2009. “I’ve heard that I’m the future of tennis,” said Stephens, who is ranked 16th among the world’s female players. “But that’s all just random stuff.”
Being a beautiful African-American woman with a powerful backhand and a tendency to toss her racket has also had Stephens pegged as the next Serena Williams. Coincidentally, her career-defining moment came when she defeated Williams at the 2013 Australian Open in a dramatic three sets. In a postgame interview, Stephens, who used to have a picture of Williams hanging on her wall, joked she might put up a poster of herself now.
Stephens’ charisma and sense of style haven’t hurt when it comes to winning over fans. At press time, the athlete, whose idols include the late designer Alexander McQueen, was looking forward to the French Open for more reasons than one. “It’s a win-win situation,” she said. “If I win, I go shopping in Paris—and if I lose, I still go shopping in Paris!”
Hair by Jessica Pleasant; Makeup by Darlene Jacobs for Chanel Beaute at Frank Reps; Digital Technician: Natalia Read-Harber; Photography Assistant: Zack Michael Hollister; Fashion Assistant: Leah Adicoff