Sloane & The Wonderful Mrs. Neumeir
Published July 28, 2013 12:01
This week, wtatennis.com will be revisiting some of the fairytales from the spring, where players overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams... today: Sloane & Mrs. Neumeir.
The life of a professional tennis player comes with certain obligations: signing autographs, press conferences, sponsorship commitments and, if your name is Sloane Stephens, visiting Mrs. Neumeir.
After returning home to Florida upon the conclusion of the European clay court season, Stephens was looking forward to a little bit of well-deserved rest and relaxation. Her grandparents, however, had other ideas.
"I think I just needed a little bit of a break following the French Open," Stephens said. "I came home, saw my brother, my grandparents and just kind of relaxed a little bit and started to get ready for Wimbledon. I'm quite good at just forgetting the tennis. But my grandparents are not!
"When I went to go visit my grandma, she was bringing out magazines. Will you sign this? Will you call my friend, Mrs. Neumeir, who lives down the street? I mean, it's a little tough."
While Stephens may have wanted nothing more than to switch off from tennis, a neighborhood meet and greet in southern Florida does have its perks. "Mrs. Neumeir is like one of my grandparents' best and oldest friends and she makes these amazing persimmon pies!
"I actually have quite a funny story about her. When my mom got inducted into the Hall of Fame, Mrs. Neumeir was going on and on about tennis and how she loves this girl named Sloane.
"My uncle hears her and says, 'You know that's Sybil's daughter?' So the next time I came home, I went to visit Mrs. Neumeir, she gave me one of those persimmon pies, and now I have to go visit her every time I'm back!"
And she has continued to do her bit for inter-generational relations since returning to the circuit. At 20, Stephens is the oldest of the WTA's latest wave of young stars, which includes former junior sparring partners Eugenie Bouchard, Laura Robson and Monica Puig.
"I was happy Genie did so well at Wimbledon and made it on Centre Court," she added. "I've known Genie since she was 12. Monica and I went to Nick Saviano's academy together, with a few others. I'm really happy that they're all doing so well now.
"For ages, I was the youngest, the baby bear. Then Genie, Laura and everyone else came along and now I'm the old bear! I never expected that all of us would be playing main draw at Slams so quickly and all doing so well. That's crazy.
"I guess we can say Nick did a good job!"