Sloane Stephens recently revisited her semifinal clash with Victoria Azarenka at the 2013 Australian Open and reflected on her rivalry with the Belarusian.
In a clip posted by the Australian Open’s official account on X, Stephens looks back at her campaign at the 2013 Australian Open, where she reached her first Grand Slam semifinals. As the No. 29 seed, Stephens defeated the likes of Simona Halep, Kristina Mladenovic, Laura Robson, Bojana Jovanovski, and No. 3 seed Serena Williams en route to the semifinals.
The American came up against defending champion and top seed, Victoria Azarenka, for a berth in the final. The Belarusian raced through the first set quite comfortably. Stephens put up a sturdier fight in the second set to keep the contest close, but Azarenka emerged victorious, 6-1, 6-4.
Looking back on the match, Stephens revealed that she and Azarenka were not on good terms before the Australian Open semifinal and had an icy relationship for the longest time. While the American did not reveal the reason for the beef, Sloane Stephens did state that it was surprising that she did not get along with Azarenka.
The Belarusian was the first professional player to give Stephens a chance to train with her when she was 15 years old. Stephens did clarify that the beef has been resolved now.
“Oh, this match was a situation. Was a total situation. We had crazy beef for like a long time, like a long time. Since resolved. Like, what’s so crazy is that the first-ever professional player that like gave me a chance and an opportunity to hit with them was Vika. I was like 15, and they had come up to Saddlebrook, and I practiced with her for two days, and it was like the best experience ever,” Sloane Stephens said.
At the 2013 Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka defended her title after beating No. 6 seed Li Na in the final. Azarenka had bettered Monica Niculescu, Eleni Daniilidou Jamie Hampton, Elena Vesnina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Sloane Stephens en route to the title contest.
Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka have faced each other nine times on the WTA Tour
That semifinal at the 2013 Australian Open was the first time Stephens and Azarenka went up against each other. The duo would go on to face off on the court eight more times, with the latest encounter coming at the 2023 Canadian Open in Montreal. Stephens won the match after a withdrawal from Azarenka.
Azarenka has a slight head-to-head advantage over the former US Open champion, winning five of nine contests. She won her other two matches against Stephens in 2023 at the Charleston Open and the Italian Open.
Both women will play at the 2024 Qatar Open in Doha. Sloane Stephens will play against Sorana Cirstea, while Victoria Azarenka will face a qualifier or a lucky loser in the opening round.