Sloane Stephens was born in Plantation, Florida, in 1993 with athletics already in her genes. “Her mother, Sybil Smith, was an All-American swimmer at Boston University; her father, John Stephens, was a NFL running back,” according to Stephens’ personal website. In a letter that Stephens wrote for Bustle, she explained how her mom tried to get her into the pool early on, but after some swimming lessons, the future tennis star told her mom, “I’m never doing this again, ask for your money back.” Outside of sports, Stephens remembered her mother teaching her important life lessons, like “we can’t help ourselves if we’re not open to helping others.” The tennis star spent much of her childhood with only her mom because her parents divorced when she was a baby.
Stephens had a distant relationship with her dad at times, but she learned about life through another family member. In an interview for Tennis, Stephens shared her grandfather was the one who “taught me how to read, how to garden, how to plant, how to cook, how to make bread, the colors of the rainbow, everything.” And Stephens has many special family traditions, like going together to Hawaii every year for Thanksgiving. “I’ve made so many memories there,” Stephens told Harper’s Bazaar about the island state.