Sloane Stephens Doubles Twitter Followers With Win

By: The Wall Street Journal Email
By: The Wall Street Journal Email

(Wall Street Journal) - The first thing Sloane Stephens did, after scoring the biggest win of her career against Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Wednesday, was check her phone.

The 19 year-old was eagerly looking for a text message from her mom, who was watching at home.

“I couldn’t really do anything because the messages were coming in, so I couldn’t read anything,” she explained, pulling out her phones at her press conference and counting 233 unread items.

“I’m still trying to figure that out because I thought it was free to receive text messages, but someone told me otherwise,” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “So I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do, because otherwise my phone bill is going to be crazy and my mom is going to be like, ‘Oh my God, your phone bill!’”

An excited Stephens said she also spoke to her grandparents, who watched her play through a computer, which they refer to as a “machine”.

“I listened to them and they calmed me down a little bit, so it was good,” she added.

Stephens earned 500,000 Australian dollars (US$526,793) for reaching the semifinals, but she won’t be buying a car or an apartment with her winnings.

“Oh no,” she said. “It’s going straight to the bank,” said the world’s 25th-ranked player. She will, however, buy a yet-to-be decided item as well as a pair of Jimmy Choos she’s promised herself.

Stephens beamed as she said her follower count on Twitter rose to 35,000 after the match from 17,000 before. It has now crept past 40,000, thanks to messages from the likes of former basketball star NBA star Shaquille O’Neal who told her “When you defeat a legend, you become a legend. Keep it going.”

“John Legend tweeted me, Dirk [Nowitzki] tweeted me. I mean, I’m just excited. I want John Legend to sing at my wedding,” said the likeable teen whose late father John Stephens was a former New England Patriots running back.

On the topic of football, she’ll support the Baltimore Ravens in next Sunday’s Super Bowl. “UCLA’s my team, I don’t really watch professional football but I want the Ravens to win, I love Ray Lewis and he’s retiring soon,” said Stephens who also backs basketball and baseball teams, the Charlotte Bobcats and the Toronto Bluejays, respectively.

Stephens, who holds sponsorship deals with Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.03% American Express AXP -0.77%, Head Racquets, Usana Health Sciences and Under Armour told The Wall Street Journal her dream endorsement brands would be Rolex and Ford.

Stephens would like join Michelle Obama on the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative against childhood obesity.

Her other off-court ambitions include being invited to The White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll in April, featuring in a song with either Lil Wayne or Nicki Minaj as well as guest-starring on one of her favorite television shows, ABC’s Scandal.

Stephens has been eating pesto gnocchi at the same restaurant, Pizza Napoli in Melbourne’s central business district, every night since the tournament started, for superstition’s sake.

If she visits it three more times, we’ll be seeing her in Saturday’s final. If she wins that, one of her agents from Lagardere Unlimited has promised to jump in the nearby South Yarra river, naked.

Whatever happens next, with Wednesday’s victory, she’s told women’s tennis she’s here to stay.

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