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DROP SHOT
L. JON WERTHEIM
June 11, 2012
FRENCH TWIST
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June 11, 2012

Drop Shot

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FRENCH TWIST

That an irrepressible African-American woman was among the last U.S. players remaining in Paris last week was not a shock. That it was neither Venus nor Serena Williams, but instead Sloane Stephens, was a considerable surprise. A 19-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, Stephens alternately pounded and ground her way to the fourth round, where she served for the first set before losing 7--5, 6--4 to Australia's Sam Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion. The list of (over)hyped American prospects failing to meet expectations is so long that it could be serialized. But Stephens, who arrived in Paris ranked No. 70 but will soon encroach on the top 50, combines grade-A speed and power with a precocious court sense. Plus, at a time when too many players feel as though cracking one smile might ruin their competitive resolve, Stephens is thoroughly enjoying her ascent. The highlight of her run in Paris? "I'm excited," she joked, "because now I'm going to have more Twitter followers."

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