PARIS (Reuters) - Sloane Stephens says she does not live in the real world and that apart from Miley Cyrus there are few 20-year-olds quite like her.
The latest poster girl of American tennis reached the fourth round of the French Open for the second year running on Saturday and is reveling in the happy-go-lucky attitude that comes with not worrying about anything except tennis and shopping.
“I don’t live in the real world,” Stephens, who beat New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic in three sets, said, comparing herself with Disney show actress and singer Cyrus.
“Hopefully it never stops. I mean, there are no other 20-year-olds like me. There might be a few, like Miley Cyrus, but other than that I’m pretty much riding solo on this train.”
After reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, Stephens was catapulted up the rankings and into the celebrity world.
She hails from a country that is hungry for a new hope, as Serena Williams, still the game’s dominant force, edges towards the end of a trophy-laden career.
If there is pressure that comes with that, Stephens, now 17th in the world rankings, is doing a good job of keeping it under wraps.
In Paris, her trick to coping with the stress of a grand-slam tournament is to hit the city’s chic shopping districts.
“I think it’s just I’m really enjoying myself off the court. I mean, more shopping ‑ like every day I’m buying stuff. People don’t understand, at 20 years old I can do whatever I want.”
If she should need advice on how to cope with being a rising star, Stephens would do well to have a word with her next opponent at Roland Garros.
Stephens will now face Maria Sharapova, a player who has laid out the blueprint for treading the tightrope of being a top athlete and a celebrity.
“There is no doubt that I have a tough one ahead of me,” last year’s Roland Garros champion said of the American.
While Stephens might not live in the real world, she shares one thing in common with many young women of her age who do.
Asked if there was anything she would change in her life since the Australian Open, she replied: “That boys weren’t so stupid.”
Editing by Clare Fallon