With a win over Venus Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium, she would become only the fourth unseeded player to reach the US Open final since the majors allowed professionals to compete with amateurs in 1968.
Stephens was still finding her form after a season-ending stress fracture last year that required surgery and an 11-month layoff, including nearly four months on a self-described “peg leg” when she was unable to put weight on her foot.
And when Stephens backed it up with runs to the French Open fourth round and Wimbledon quarter-finals in the same year to soar to No11 in the rankings, she was broadly cast as the next big thing in American tennis.
All of it was standard achievement in a family of gifted athletes: her mother, Sybil Smith, was an all-American swimmer at Boston University in the late 1980s, while her father, John Stephens, was a Pro Bowl running back for the New England Patriots who died in a car accident in 2009.
Then, potentially, an opportunity to become the first American outside the Williams family to win a grand slam singles title since Andy Roddick in 2003 – and the first woman since Jennifer Capriati one year earlier.
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