Sloane Stephens, who upset Serena Williams on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, is the daughter of the late John Stephens, who was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the year as a running back for the New England Patriots in 1988. Her dad played seven seasons in the NFL, but never approached his form of '88, when he rushed for 1,168 yards and 4 TDs on 297 carries.
Stephens, the world's 25th ranked women's tennis player, was born in Plantation, Fla. Her mother, Sybil Smith, swam at Boston University. In 1988, the same year John Stephens was an NFL rookie, Smith became the first African-American woman to earn Division I first-team all-American honors. John Stephens died in an auto accident in September of 2009.
Sloane's parents divorced when she was very young. According to news reports, Sloane had met her father just a few times. According to a New York Times story, John and his daughter began to correspond by phone after he learned he had a degenerative bone disease. The Times story also revealed that John had twice been arrested on sexual assault charges and pleaded guilty to rape in 1994.
Oh, you can add John Stephens to the list of running backs who had their breakthrough game or career high against the Bills. Stephens' first 100-yard game came in a loss to the Bills at Rich Stadium in October of '88, when he rushed 25 times for 134 yards. It was the biggest rushing day of his career.