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Tennis | Australian Open

'Chillax' for Stephens, as family freaks



Sloane Stephens stayed calm. Her family freaked out.

The American teenager was celebrating two breakthroughs at the Australian Open on Wednesday. First, she had beaten Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.

And in a development that seemed to excite her just as much, Stephens doubled her number of Twitter followers in the process.

The 19-year-old old went straight to her smart phone after her 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 triumph in the hope of receiving a text message from her mother.

"I couldn't really do anything because the messages were coming in, so I couldn't read anything," Stephens said.

"I was like, wait, this is pointless, so I just put it down. I couldn't reach my mom. I called my brother and he couldn't even talk. He was like, freaking out. I was like, OK, where's mom? Never mind. Bye.

"I talked to my grandparents after. My grandma was just like, 'Oh, good job'."

Stephens has made no secret of her fondness for Twitter while moving up the ranks. The new superstar of world tennis claimed she had about 17 000 followers before the Williams match, and more than 35 000 after it.

"John Legend tweeted me," she said. "I mean, I'm just excited. I want John Legend to sing at my wedding. I was like, 'Oh my God, he tweeted me'. What can I do? I don't know. I'm still thinking."

Stephens is so attached to her technology that she pulled out two phones in her post-match press conference.

"I have 200 and something messages now," she said.

"Wait, I can tell you how many – 213 on this one, and then I don't use this one. I only talk to one person, two people, on this phone, and I had 20 messages. I was like oh, interesting."

Despite semifinalists at the Australian Open being guaranteed Aus$500 000 ($527 000), Stephens was reluctant to run up a big bill by replying to all her messages.

"I thought it was free to receive text messages, but someone told me otherwise," Stephens said.

"So I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do, because otherwise my phone bill is going to go crazy and my mom is going to be like, 'Oh my God, your phone bill'."

Stephens said she had to convince herself before the match, and again during an injury timeout called by Williams, that she could beat the player regarded as one of the greatest in history.

"This morning when I got up I was like look, dude, you can do this," she said.

Stephens add: "I was just kind of hanging out (when Williams received off-court treatment). Just chillax. I've gotten it a lot recently. In the last three weeks it's happened to me a lot, so I was prepared.

"I go through some things in my head and then look to see what my coach is doing. He was eating a chicken sandwich when that happened."

But the size of Stephens' achievement, in reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal, hit her in the locker room.

"I was stretching and I was like, I'm in the semis of a Grand Slam," she said. "I was like, 'Whoa. It wasn't as hard as I thought'. But it's pretty cool."

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