Sloane Stephens, the tennis player who defeated Serena Williams and advanced to the Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday, has strong connections to Boston.
Her mother, Sybil Smith, was a swimmer at Boston University and a member of the school's athletics hall of fame. Her bio on the BU Hall of Fame web page calls her "the finest swimmer in Boston University history."
Her father was John Stephens, who was a Patriots running back for six seasons beginning in 1988. Stephens, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, was killed in a car accident in 2009 at age 43.
Sloane Stephens, 19, scored the biggest win of her pro tennis career in beating the top-ranked Williams, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. It ended a streak of 20 straight wins for Williams.
Stephens faces defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.
The Wall Street Journal reported Stephens' Twitter following more than doubled after her victory Wednesday. Boston University even sent a congratulatory message.
Congrats to #BU Hall of Fame swimmer Sybil Smith '88. Her daughter Sloane Stephens just beat Serena Williams to reach the Aussie Open semis.— BU Athletics (@BUAthletics) January 23, 2013
Sports stars and celebrities also checked in with messages for Stephens, including:
@sloanetweets congrats on a great match. Excellent focus n poise. Keep it goin. When u defeat a legend you become a legend. Keep it going— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 23, 2013
Wow. What a win for sloane. Some amazing defense. She gets every ball back.— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) January 23, 2013
Just found out her dad is John Stephens from the Pats. (that's my real name)I had his football card when I was a kid. I was so proud, haha— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 23, 2013
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer