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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Tennis

Tweets flood, family freaks, Serena Williams-slayer chills
AFP
Melbourne, January 23, 2013
First Published: 20:41 IST(23/1/2013)
Last Updated: 02:25 IST(24/1/2013)
Sloane Stephens checks her phone for messages after she shocked Serena Williams in Oz Open quarters. Agencies

Sloane Stephens stayed calm. Her family freaked out.

The American teenager was celebrating two breakthroughs at the Australian Open on Wednesday. First, she had beaten Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

And in a development that seemed to excite her just as much, Stephens doubled her number of Twitter followers in the process.

The 19-year-old old went straight to her smart phone after her 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 triumph in the hope of receiving a text message from her mother.

Sloane Stephens serves to compatriot Serena Williams during their women's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. REUTERS

"I couldn't really do anything because the messages were coming in, so I couldn't read anything," Stephens said.

"I was like, wait, this is pointless, so I just put it down. I couldn't reach my mom. I called my brother and he couldn't even talk. He was like, freaking out. I was like, OK, where's mom? Never mind. Bye.

"I talked to my grandparents after. My grandma was just like, 'Oh, good job'."

Serena Williams reacts after a point against Sloane Stephens of the US during their women's singles match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. AFP photo

Stephens has made no secret of her fondness for Twitter while moving up the ranks. The new superstar of world tennis claimed she had about 17,000 followers before the Williams match, and more than 35,000 after it.

"John Legend tweeted me," she said. "I mean, I'm just excited. I want John Legend to sing at my wedding. I was like, 'Oh my God, he tweeted me'. What can I do? I don't know. I'm still thinking."

Stephens is so attached to her technology that she pulled out two phones in her post-match press conference.

"I have 200 and something messages now," she said.

"Wait, I can tell you how many -- 213 on this one, and then I don't use this one. I only talk to one person, two people, on this phone, and I had 20 messages. I was like oh, interesting."

Serena Williams shakes hands with Sloane Stephens of the US after her loss during their women's singles match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. AFP PHOTO

Despite semi-finalists at the Australian Open being guaranteed Aus$500,000 ($527,000), Stephens was reluctant to run up a big bill by replying to all her messages.

"I thought it was free to receive text messages, but someone told me otherwise," Stephens said.

"So I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do, because otherwise my phone bill is going to go crazy and my mom is going to be like, 'Oh my God, your phone bill'."

Stephens said she had to convince herself before the match, and again during an injury timeout called by Williams, that she could beat the player regarded as one of the greatest in history.

"This morning when I got up I was like look, dude, you can do this," she said.

Stephens add: "I was just kind of hanging out (when Williams received off-court treatment). Just chillax. I've gotten it a lot recently. In the last three weeks it's happened to me a lot, so I was prepared.

Sloane Stephens reacts as she is interviewed on court following her quarterfinal win over compatriot Serena Williams at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia. AP Photo

"I go through some things in my head and then look to see what my coach is doing. He was eating a chicken sandwich when that happened."

But the size of Stephens' achievement, in reaching her first Grand Slam final, hit her in the locker room.

"I was stretching and I was like, I'm in the semis of a Grand Slam," she said. "I was like, 'Whoa. It wasn't as hard as I thought'. But it's pretty cool."

Some of the tweets that poured

@alondra -- RT @BenRothenberg: How do we know #Sloane Stephens is 19? First thing she did after biggest win of her career was check her phone. #ausopen

 Congrats #sloane Stephens for marvelous win over #serena . Simply loved your gesture after win.— bush_27g (@bhushan_g)

@Venuseswilliams -So proud of @serenawilliams such a great effort today and the whole tournament through injury and all, my hero :)

I love how poised @sloanetweets is in this interview. Confident, well-spoken, and is flashing a million dollar smile!— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin)


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