Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens have a date in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, taking place right now in Indian Wells, CA.
Williams is making her first appearance in 14 years at the Palm Springs tournament. As a 19-year-old, she was booed mercilessly after winning the top prize. She wrote an op-ed in Time magazine explaining her return and tying it to a charitable campaign with the Equal Justice Initiative. She made a tearful return to the tourney on Friday where she received a loud and prolonged ovation when she stepped on the court.
After taking that first match to get in the groove, she’s been thundering through the tournament in Serena fashion.
Stephens, 21, defeated a Grand Slam champion in Svetlana Kuznetsova to make it to the fourth round. She and Williams, 33, have a bumpy history, with Stephens going off on Williams in a 2013 ESPN The Magazine interview. She accused Williams of not speaking with her and unfollowing her on Twitter. The two played each other three times that year with Stephens getting the upset at the Australian Open.
Stephens tells Agence France Presse that they are now “colleagues” though they’re not as close as they used to be. She is currently ranked number 42 in the world. Williams is the top player. They should face off tomorrow.
Each champion — male and female — receives $1 million for winning the tournament. A total of $10 million is handed out.