Sloane Stephens just secured her first U.S. Open win—beating out longtime friend and fellow American, Madison Keys, for the Grand Slam victory. While some said that this year’s competition lacked star power—with tennis legend Serena Williams temporarily sidelined after giving birth to a baby girl just a little over a week ago, and Maria Sharapova getting knocked out in the fourth round by Anastasija Sevastova—a 24-year-old star was undoubtedly just born. Ranked 83rd prior to today’s incredible win, Stephens is only the second unseeded woman (the first being Kim Clijsters in 1968) to win the U.S. Open title.
“I should just retire now,” she joked during the trophy presentation. “I told Maddie I’m never going to be able to top this. I mean, talk about a comeback.” Returning to the court in July after foot surgery, Stephens demonstrated serious determination, as did Keys, who has undergone two operations on her left wrist in the past 10 months according to The New York Times.
This hour (and one minute) of uninhibited girl power, however, not only underscored the tremendous fortitude of American women and the strength of U.S. tennis, but the importance of friendship. The two competitors came up in the sport together, so it was only fitting that they both experience their first Grand Slam singles final across the net from one another. “Sloane is truly one of my favorite people and to get to play her was really special. Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis today and was disappointed,” Keys said during the awards ceremony. “But Sloane, being the great friend that she is, was very supportive. And if there’s someone I have to lose to today, I’m glad it’s her.”
Stephens responded with an equally heartwarming response: “Maddie is one of my bestest friends on tour, if not my best friend on tour. And to play her here, honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else. For us both to be here is such a special moment. I told her I wish it could have been a draw, because I wish we could have both won.” It’s a good reminder, especially during the throws of New York fashion week, to lift one another up in lieu of cutting each other down in an attempt to get to the top. Kindness—even on the mean streets of the Big Apple—counts.
As for tomorrow’s men’s final in which Rafael Nadal will face off against Kevin Anderson, we plan to prepare with a spritz of something special while were out on the NYFW circuit: Demeter’s Limited-Edition Fuzzy Balls Cologne ($21). According to the fragrance brand, this blend captures “that incredibly attractive, yet indescribable smell you experience (along with the whoosh) when you open a new can of tennis balls.” Gentlemen, may your moves and sportsmanship be as smooth as those seen on center court tonight.