Stephens, Keys Usher In New Era Of American Women's Tennis With U.S. Open Final Matchup
Sloane Stephens will play Madison Keys Saturday night at the U.S. Open in an "all-American showcase of first-time Slam finalists," and their success "attests to the new depth of American women's tennis," according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. Neither Stephens nor Keys "found it easy to be labeled the Next Great American Tennis Hope before they were ready to carry that burden." Elliott: "They're ready now" (L.A. TIMES, 9/8). TENNIS.com's Steve Tignor wrote under the header, "Stephens And Keys Turned The Future Of U.S. Tennis Into The Present." American tennis fans for nearly a decade had been "marveling at the talent and potential of Stephens and Keys, hoping they would fulfill it, and occasionally wondering if our hopes were misplaced." But as their rankings "bounced up and down, and injuries stalled their progress, and neither of them reached another Grand Slam semi, the question marks remained." Tignor: "Did Sloane actually like tennis? Could Madison play two good sets in a row?" In reaching their first major finals, Stephens and Keys "answered all of those questions" (TENNIS.com, 9/7). ESPN.com's Alyssa Roenigk noted the matchup will be the "first all-American final without a Williams sister" involved at the U.S. Open since Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert in '84. Throughout the past few years, pundits have "bemoaned the lack of drama in the women's game and the drought that has plagued American tennis." While this is "not the Cubs or Red Sox winning the World Series," it "erases the question marks hanging over the heads of the next generation." Roenigk: "American women playing in the semis and finals of a Slam is not a fluke. It is not a drill. It is to be expected from here on out" (ESPN.com, 9/7).