Sloane Stephens plays a forehand during her victory over Sofia Arvidsson during the Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena. She next faces compatriot Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.
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Up-and-coming young American Sloane Stephens posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson on Wednesday at the Brisbane International to set up a quarterfinal match against her childhood hero, No. 3 seed Serena Williams.
"Obviously, she's been a really great influence in my tennis,'' the 19-year-old Stephens said. "I'm excited to play her and get on the court with her. I think it'll be fun.''
Williams said she has been following Stephens' career and was "a fan'' of her young Fed Cup teammate's style.
In her first tournament back since being sidelined by an abdominal injury following the U.S. Open, Stephens isn't awed by the prospect of taking on the 15-time Grand Slam winner.
"Obviously, I always was like, 'Oh, my God. I love her to death. She's amazing, whatever,''' Stephens recalled of early meetings with Williams. "Now she's like an actual person and I'm like, 'Oh, hi. How is it going?' She's not like a hero anymore. She's just a friend.
"Even if I go out there and lose, just bomb it, I don't win a game, at least if I'm able to focus on myself and do what's right for me, then it's not a loss.''