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Sloane Stephens meets Sloane Stephens in Dallas
The 2017 US Open champion had a heartwarming afternoon with a young fan who shares her name when she and Madison Keys visited Dallas to play in a pre-tournament exhibition match.
Published Feb 05, 2023
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Saturday was ladies' night at the Dallas Open, as Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens thrilled a packed house on the campus of Southern Methodist University with a spirited exhibition match ahead of the start of the men's tournament.
But before she squared off against longtime friend in front of a packed house, the 2017 US Open champion had the opportunity to meet someone special: Sloane Stephens.
Come again? Here's the story: Keys and Stephens first participated in an afternoon tennis clinic with the organization Buddy Up Tennis, which serves children with Down syndrome and special needs, where Stephens met a young fan who shares her name. Per Dallas-area journalist Noah Bullard on Twitter, the younger Sloane Stephens was named after a street in London that her parents lived on before she was born.
"I was about eight-and-a-half months pregnant with this Sloane, and I was watching the French Open, and I told my husband, 'Honey, you're not going to believe this, but there's someone that has the same name as her, from the U.S.," Anice Stephens, little Sloane's mom, told NBCDFW.
"I couldn't believe it, and we've been following her ever since. The whole family watched Sloane at the US Open in 2017, and when she won, my daughter was like, 'That's my name! That's my name!'"
Wearing a big pink bow, 'little Sloane' met 'big Sloane' and gave her a gift before they went on court together, trading as many smiles as groundstrokes. She later got to escort Stephens on court for the exhibition.
It was an experience that Anice Stephens says their family will never forget.
"I think, for me, it was just incredible," she said. "She's been alive for 10-and-a-half years, and I've always known that there's another Sloane Stephens out there that was super famous, and to meet her, and see how wonderful she is, it's just a dream come true."
The impact was equally profound for the Grand Slam-winning Stephens.
"I love kids, and I think sharing something incredibly special like our name, there's very few Sloanes in the world, and very few Sloane Stephens," she said. "I don't know if there's more of us, but to be able to meet another is very cool and to be able to share that experience is pretty awesome."
Keys eventually won the exhibition 7-6(2), 6-3, and the two later paired up for a doubles match partnering SMU tennis players Hadley Doyle and Jackie Nylander.
The Dallas Open begins Monday on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe are the top seeds.