Sloane Stephens will be on a dual mission when the U.S. Open begins on Monday, Aug, 31, in Queens, New York. She’ll, of course, be trying to win it, as she did in 2017, but the tennis star is also playing to help young people.
People reports that for every ace Stephens and other U.S. Open players complete, Mercedes-Benz will donate $50 to “Rally to Rebuild,” a fundraising campaign that supports tennis organizations that work with young people. It was started in June by the United States Tennis Association.
An ace is when a player gains a point after that person’s serve isn’t touched by the opponent’s racket and lands in the court’s service box.
The program is being called “Ace the U.S. Open” and funds will be equally distributed to three chapters of National Junior Tennis and Learning. A third of the proceeds will go to the Sloane Stephens Foundation, which has an NJTL chapter in Southern California. Another portion will go to NJTL chapters in Atlanta, and the rest will go to NJTL chapters throughout the Northeast United States.
The Sloane Stephens Foundation was launched in 2013, and it supports youth physical fitness, education and after-school tutoring.
“I think it’s a really cool opportunity, since the U.S. Open is very different this year,” said Stephens, referencing the program and the U.S. Open being held amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. “This is something that we can all get behind, and it’s for a good cause. 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.”
She continued: “Tennis has given me an amazing opportunity in life, so many opportunities to travel the world and meet people. 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.”
Stephens, a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, has been persistent in spreading her message that tennis isn’t just for the affluent.
In a 2019 interview with TheGrio, she said it’s a notion that affects African-Americans and Hispanics the most. That’s why she partnered with Mercedes-Benz some time ago to introduce tennis to a young person who may not have given it a try.
“They provide coaching, they provide fitness and tutors and all of these things,” Stephens told people about NJTL. “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.”
“I grew up playing in an NJTL across the street from my house,” she added. “That’s why I’m super passionate about grassroots tennis and developing the game, because I was one of those kids who came out of parks and rec and NJTL. … 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.”
At the beginning of her People interview, Stephens talked about playing at the U.S. Open with COVID-19 still spreading, and she admitted to being worried about getting sick.
But based on an Instagram photo the Florida native posted from Arthur Ashe Stadium, one of the sites of the U.S. Open, she seems to be at ease and has already settled in.
“No place like it,” she wrote next to the image, posted Wednesday, Aug. 26.