Wimbledon 2014: Sloane Stephens slumps to first round defeat

Great hope of American tennis continues difficult spell

The great hope of American tennis, heir to the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens, is learning the hard way about life after novelty. A quarter-finalist last year, the 21-year-old fell in straight sets to the former teenage poster girl of Russian tennis, Maria Kirilenko, now a relative veteran at 27.

Stephens, seeded 18, was given the honour of opening business on Court 18, the perfect athletic adornment to a sun-bleached morning in the capital. Coached by Paul Annacone, guru to the great Pete Sampras, Stephens has reached the point in her winless career where a leap needs to be made.

She was identified as the future of the women’s game when she passed briefly through the Nick Bolitieri Florida regime as a 15-year-old. Her semi-final appearance at last year’s Australian Open is thus far her career apotheosis. After fourth round exits in Australia and the French this year, she had hoped Wimbledon might be a springboard to that higher plane. 

“I’m so sorry for those who now don’t have to write about me this week and next,” she said. “This is the first time I have lost in the first round of a slam. It feels like the end of the world right now. Of course, it’s not. Sometimes you have to be a big girl and work through your difficulties.”

Kirilenko knows all about potential. As a former US Open junior champion she was the Russian who was going to deliver what Anna Kournikova didn’t, substance as well as beauty. In truth successes is far more likely to come on screen, where she has a credit to her name already, playing the role of Ludmila Pelikhova in the 2013 film ‘Vamp U’.       

Come in no.17 your time is up. Sam ‘boulders for shoulders’ Stosur claimed the unwanted mantle of first seed to fall, losing in straight sets to Yanina Wickmayer. This is not a new phenomenon for the 30-year-old Australian, who split with coach Miles Maclachan last week. She has lost in the opening round on seven occasions. 

Stosur was, however, not the first player out of the tournament. That distinction fell to Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, blown away 6-0 6-4 by Russia’s Elena Vesnina.   

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'