Stephens a Teen Idol After Upsetting Hers

Stephens a Teen Idol After Upsetting Hers

What was supposed to be a learning experience against one of the greatest tennis players in history turned into one of the biggest upsets in tennis history on Wednesday, when the 19-year-old Sloane Stephens introduced herself to a global audience by rallying to defeat her 31-year-old American elder Serena Williams, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Williams is a 15-time Grand Slam singles champion, and was the No. 3 seed and heavy favorite here, but what made the result all the more surprising was that she has been as dominant of late as she has been in the past: sweeping to the Wimbledon, Olympic and United States Open titles last year and winning 20 straight matches coming into this quarterfinal.

But the streak and Williams’s newfound tranquility on court came crashing to a halt on this cool, sunlit afternoon in Rod Laver Arena as Williams, limited and frustrated by a back problem and Stephens’s precocious blend of offense and defense, smashed her racket to smithereens early in the third set.

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