Updated Sunday, Sept. 1, 6:07 p.m. EDT: Serena Williams defeated Sloane Stephens Sunday at the U.S. Open, "pulling away from the young American for a 6-4, 6-1 win to return to the U.S. Open quarterfinals," the Associated Press reports.
Stephens beat a hobbling Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January. But in the rematch Sunday, the 16-time Grand Slam champion served big and controlled points against the 20-year-old.
In what is being billed as an "epic" rematch, Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens are slated to meet this weekend at the U.S. Open, EspnW reports.
If Sloane Stephens thought she would get a chance outside the professional shadow of Serena Williams, that notion was dispelled the moment the US Open draw was printed.
There she was, just 15 lines below the top-seeded Williams in the 128-line draw. Stephens, the No. 2 American woman in the world and No.15 seed here, is inextricably tied to the mythic Williams, for better or worse. And Sunday, the two women will meet in a fourth-round match that should pack all the emotional heft and strategic drama of a championship final.
The two have played twice against each other.
Williams won the first meeting in Brisbane, and then came the infamous Australian Open quarterfinal last winter. It was a match that changed the dynamic between these women, and remains a palpable undercurrent as their rematch approaches.
Before her win, Stephens regarded Williams as a mentor. But Williams' loss reportedly triggered a rift.
After that, Stephens aired their problems in ESPN The Magazine in May. She said her win had meant the end of all signs of friendship, that Williams hadn't looked at her or spoken to her since.
"People should know. They think she's so friendly and she's so this and she's so that — no, that's not reality!" Stephens said. "You don't unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?"
Stephens later apologized, and since then the women have been publicly cordial. Williams continues to speak highly of Stephens' game, while Stephens keeps the personal nature of their relationship private once again.