US teenager Sloane Stephens is a major talent, but she has had a hard time keeping healthy and revealed in Brisbane that at the 2012 US Open she tore an abdominal muscle, so badly so that it bled.
That led to the 19-year-old being forced to take off the rest of 2012.
I was kind of just downplaying it like it’s no big deal or whatever, but the day before I played [Ana Ivanovic, maybe the day before that, it started bleeding, the muscle started bleeding, so it was getting swollen," she said. " I looked like a fat girl on the court because my stomach was bulging out and it looked terrible. I just kind of was trying to forget about it, but it didn't work because I couldn't serve, I couldn't do anything."
Stephens was not only off the court for seven weeks, but she couldn't do physical activity either. So while in Los Angeles - where she makes her home - she acted like normal teenager until she could get back on court.
"I was kind of just enjoying my life, doing kid things, and hoping that it would get better and hoping I would come [to Australia] and be able to play pretty good,” she said.
Before heading Down Under, Stephens had to work herself back into shape and she did so, doing physical therapy with Athletes Performance at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. She will continue her coaching relationship with the USTA ‘s David Nainkin.
If Stephens manages to upset her friend Serena Williams at the Brisbane International, she will more than likely be seeded at the Australian Open. But she has no intention of feeling like she needs to replace Serena or her older sister Venus as the standard bearers of US tennis. The 38th- ranked Stephens prefers to climb up the ladder at a pace that she is comfortable with.
“I don’t think I’ll feel any pressure until Venus and Serena retire,” she said. “I don’t think there is anything to worry about. I don’t think American tennis is in jeopardy. I don’t think Sloane’s tennis is in jeopardy. I think everything is just smooth sailing right now and we should keep it that way. No, no pressure at all. There are people ranked ahead of me that are American. I don’t know, there are 37 other girls ranked ahead of me, so no pressure. Just fun.”
©Daily Tennis News Wire