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Sloane Stephens, new star of tennis world, has Boston ties

Sloane Stephens was all smiles after defeating Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Barbara Walton/EPA

Sloane Stephens was all smiles after defeating Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Sloane Stephens, the tennis player who defeated Serena Williams and advanced to the Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday, has strong connections to Boston.

Her mother, Sybil Smith, was a swimmer at Boston University and a member of the school’s athletics hall of fame. Her bio on the BU Hall of Fame web page calls her “the finest swimmer in Boston University history.”

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Her father was John Stephens, who was a Patriots running back for six seasons beginning in 1988. Stephens, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, was killed in a car accident in 2009 at age 43.

Sloane Stephens, 19, scored the biggest win of her pro tennis career in beating the top-ranked Williams, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. It ended a streak of 20 straight wins for Williams.

Stephens will faced defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals of the year’s first major championship.

The Wall Street Journal reported Stephens’ Twitter following more than doubled after her victory Wednesday. Boston University even sent a congratulatory message via Twitter. It read: “Congrats to #BU Hall of Fame swimmer Sybil Smith ‘88. Her daughter Sloane Stephens just beat Serena Williams to reach the Aussie Open semis.”

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