Sloane Stephens’ epic comeback is complete.
Stephens, who has jumped more than 900 spots in the world rankings in a month, is now a grand slam champion, winning the US Open 6-3, 6-0 against No. 15 seed and fellow American Madison Keys at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.
This was only the seventh time in the Open Era, and the second time at the US Open, that two first-time finalists have faced off in a grand slam final. This also was the first all-American US Open final since 2002, when Serena Williams defeated Venus Williams. Stephens is the first American woman other than the Williams sisters to win a grand slam title in 15 years.
The 24-year-old Stephens, unseeded and ranked 83rd, is the third player to win the US Open ranked outside the top 10 since computer rankings began in November 1975. The others were unranked Kim Clijsters in 2009 and No. 26 Flavia Pennetta in 2015.
When it was over, the two Americans shared a long embrace on the court. After Stephens celebrated with her support group, including her mother, Sybil Smith, she returned to the court and sat next to Keys, whom Stephens calls her best friend on the WTA tour.
“Honestly I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else,” Stephens said. “For us both to be here is such a special moment. I told her I wish there could be a draw, because I wish we could have both won. I think that if it was the other way around she would do the same for me. I’m going to support her no matter what, and I know she’s going to support me no matter what. To stand with her today is incredible. That’s what real friendship is.”