NEW YORK, USA - Sloane Stephens worked toward a college degree while sidelined 11 months with a left foot injury, but her run to the US Open semi-finals has delivered a blow to her hopes of graduating on time.
Stephens admitted Tuesday, September 5 after beating Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6 7-6 (7/4) that she isn't getting her classwork done thanks to her Grand Slam success.
"I'm actually going to fail my last semester of college because I'm here and I haven't submitted any work in like 3 weeks," Stephens said. "That's another part of life that is really stressing me right now."
Stephens, ranked 83rd, is studying for a degree as part of a program the WTA has with Indiana University East.
"December 14 I'm supposed to graduate but I probably won't because I'm here and continue to be here," she said.
Still, Stephens wouldn't trade her chance at a first Grand Slam title for all the A-plus papers she could write.
"Playing tennis is an amazing thing and I'm lucky that I'm able to play a sport for a living," Stephens said.
"It was just kind of eye opening. When I wasn't playing of course I loved my time off, but when I got back to playing tennis, it was like, 'This is where I want to be. This is what I love doing.'"
Stephens lost her first-round match at Wimbledon in her injury comeback and her first match at Washington in her hardcourt comeback start.
Since then, she made semi-final runs at tuneup events in Toronto and Cincinnati and matched her best-ever Slam run from the 2013 Australian Open.
"If someone would have told me when I started at Wimbledon that I'd be in the semi-finals or making three semifinals back to back, I would have said they're crazy," Stephens said.
"Just happy to be playing really well and happy that my foot is good and I don't have any pain and my body is holding up."
Stephens said she can't really recall what it was like to reach the last-four in Melbourne more than four years ago.
"I'd say the first one was quite overwhelming. But this one feels good," she said.
Stephens has a deeper perspective mentally than she did before.
"I think just my head is a little clearer," she said.
"Before, I was playing well. I had won a couple tournaments. But being injured gave me a whole new perspective on tennis, on life, and just in general.
"I think I have a better perspective and just looking at the game totally different. Just happy with where I'm at. Just looking to build on it. I couldn't really ask for a better way to come back."
At one stage, Stephens had a rod on her leg and a cast on her foot.
"I was walking on a peg leg, so that whole 15 weeks was super tough," she said.
"I couldn't walk, I couldn't do all the things that I wanted to do. But I did get to hang out with my family and see my little cousin's soccer games and go to weddings and baby showers and stuff. All the things that I thought before I was missing out on, I really wasn't." – Rappler.com