Sloane Stephens Talks Giving Back to Young Tennis Players Who Are Now in the Shoes She Once Wore
The U.S. Open is slated to begin in a few short days and Sloane Stephens is ready to hit the court and start raising money for a cause that’s extremely close to her heart.
Even though she’s a touch “worried” about competing amid the coronavirus, she’s ready to snag the trophy again after first winning it back in 2017. In a new interview with People, Stephens discusses her hopes and fears for the tournament.
Sloane Stephens expresses her anxieties and hopes for this year’s U.S. Open.
“I’m a super germaphobe, so I’m worried about not getting anyone sick or me not getting sick,” the tennis star told People.
“I’m just really paranoid. Sometimes I think more about, am I doing the right thing? Do I need to change my mask? Do I need to wash it? I like to take precautions,” she continued. “And so I think sometimes I am a little bit over the top with just trying to be aware of my surroundings.”
Although the pandemic rages on, the athlete is still excited to raise money for a good cause.
Stephens, 27, won’t only be looking to outlast her opponents once the event kicks off on August 31 in Queens, New York, she’ll also be raising money to help young athletes.
For every ace completed by she and other players at the Open, Mercedes-Benz will donate $50 to the United States Tennis Association’s “Rally to Rebuild” initiative. The company named the program “Ace the U.S. Open.” The final donation will be equally distributed to three National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters supported by the USTA Foundation: the Sloane Stephens Foundation chapter, a local Atlanta NJTL chapter, and an NJTL chapter in the Northeast.
“I think it’s a really cool opportunity since the U.S. Open is very different this year.”
“This is something that we can all get behind and it’s for a good cause,” the player said of the program. “And it’s something we’re all super passionate about — helping junior tennis and NJTL chapters and with the USTA. I’m super excited to be a part of it.”
Since it was founded seven years ago, Stephens’ organization has focused on supporting after-school tutoring, education, the adoption of healthy lifestyles, and improved physical fitness training for young people.
The NJTL is much more than a league, they provide opportunities and resources for underserved youth.
“Tennis has given me an amazing opportunity in life, so many opportunities to travel the world and meet people,” the pro athlete explained. “I think we should all be giving back to junior tennis and people who are looking to play the game. To those who don’t want to because they think tennis is too expensive, or think you need a coach or whatever it is.”
According to the USTA Foundation, the NJTL network includes over 250 nonprofit youth development organizations that offer free or affordable tennis and education programs around the country. The groups benefit over 160,000 youth every year.
“They provide coaching, they provide fitness and tutors and all of these things,” Stephens said.
“I think it’s really important to get behind youth tennis and especially youth in sports, girls in sports. That’s something that NJTL is very passionate about, and I think this initiative speaks to that. I think at this time, it’s amazing to be able to support things and also get kids moving and going and playing tennis.”
Supporting these programs is especially important to Stephens, as she benefitted from them as a child.
“I grew up playing in an NJTL across the street from my house. That’s why I’m super passionate about grassroots tennis and developing the game is because I was one of those kids who came out of parks and rec and NJTL,” she said.
“I was one of those kids who just loved the game and loved tennis because I had a really amazing first coach. Without NJTL and these programs, there might not be more of me. I think by supporting them, creates an opportunity to make kids like myself.”
We’re excited to see Stephens play at the U.S. Open. Her talents on the court are undeniable, but to read her passionate comments about NJTL and to see her leadership through her foundation, it’s clear her gifts extend beyond it.
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