Sloane Stevens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and advocate for education and wellness, shared her journey to Wimbledon fame with the children from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s Tennis & Learning Center (TLC) on Friday, November 15. She fielded questions from the kids and later, as the young tennis players practiced drills, Stephens lent her expertise, correcting a stance here, demonstrating a serve there.
The event included another cause to celebrate: upon the completion of the new tennis center in Golden Gate Park in 2020, the TLC program will be able to expand to middle school, serving 60-80 more students from underserved neighborhoods.
Stephens, who has won six WTA singles titles, felt a special connection with the young students in the program.
“I see myself in the TLC kids because I know firsthand how tennis contributes to success off the court,” Stephens said. “There is no better training in problem solving, concentration, and playing fairly. You get good at winning, but more importantly, you learn that failing is just part of learning. I am so excited that they will continue to develop their potential at a world class tennis facility starting next year.”
Before getting on court with the TLC kids, Stephens participated in a panel discussion about the importance of youth development programs, which was moderated by Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg and included Jamila Perlas, TLC's Student Services Manager; Kesha Weekes, Academic Director and Middle School Group Director with the East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring program; and Alison Vidal, Manager of Community Development and Partnerships at USTA NorCal.