December 15, 2017

Black Women Magic on display at US OPEN 2017; two Americans not named Williams take center court for the Finals

The US Tennis Association reaped its reward for all of its efforts in creating an environment for diversity in tennis. For the first time ever, four American women reached the semifinals and three of the four were Black women.

As the tournament advanced to the finals, for the first time ever, the US OPEN Women’s Final featured two American women whose last names were not Williams and, they were two Black women, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Fresh off semifinal victories, Keys, and Stephens, who are friends off the court were ready to do battle. The 15th -seeded Keys was favored over Stephens who came to the tournament ranked at 957 but managed to move up to 83 on Monday.

However, seeding didn’t matter much for this match. Stephens who bested No. 9-seed and seven-time grand slam winner, Venus Williams 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 in two hours and seven minutes in the U.S. Open semifinals on Thursday, cruised to victory tonight and defeated her dear friend, Madison Keys, 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes.Sloane Stephens hugs her friend and competitor Madison Keys after beating Keys to win 2017 US OPEN Photo Credit Getty Images 682x503

Sloane Stephens hugs her friend, Madison Keys, after winning the 2017 US OPEN Women’s Final. Photo Credit: Getty Images

With winning the 2017 US OPEN Women’s Final, Stephens is now ranked No. 17.

USTA reaps rewards of Diversity and Inclusion as three of the four American women in US Open semifinals are Black women

With professional tennis player Serena Williams out on maternity leave, many thought that this year’s US OPEN would have a little less excitement. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was plenty of excitement on the women’s side. In the opening round, Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, stunned the tennis world when she beat German player, Angelique Kerber, 6-3, 6-1. A serious upset for Kerber, as she is only the second U.S. Open women's champion in the Open Era to lose in the first round the following year who was ranked No. 1.

And then, no one saw this coming. For the first time since 1981 at the US OPEN, the final four in the Women’s Semifinals were all Americans, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, and Sloane Stephens. In 1981, the final four American women included: Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Potter. Navratilova had just become a naturalized US citizen.

Seven-time grand slam winner, Williams was up against Stephens and 15th-seeded Keys was ready to battle it out with 20th-seeded Vandeweghe. Many tennis analysts and prognosticators expected a Venus Williams and Madison Keys final, but Sloane Stephens, who ranked 957 in early August, said not so fast.

In a gritty semi-finals match on Thursday, Stephens eked out a 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 win against Williams. Also on Thursday, the 15th-seeded Keys’ dominated No. 20 Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2, leaving the US OPEN Women’s Final to feature two American women whose last names are not Williams.

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