But Keys fully expected her pal to make up for the pain she caused. "But I worked hard and it was there and I took the opportunity when it came up", she said. I was literally in my room twiddling my thumbs, like, looking at, like - I literally was looking at vehicle reviews last night on Auto Trader, like literally. "I didn't have anything to do".
Following Whitney Osuigwe's French Open win and Claire Liu's Wimbledon crown, the Anisimova-Gauff final will ensure three different American girls will win the grand slam junior titles in the same season.
"I told Maddie [Keys] I should just retire now", said Stephens post-match.
The likes of National Basketball Association stars Shaquille O'Neal and Dirk Nowitzki, and singer John Legend, congratulated her on social media, and a star had seemingly been born.
"I'm excited we get to play each other in the US Open final".
It was a remarkable turnaround for Stephens, who six weeks ago was still ranked 957th by the WTA.
"I was super limited, so that whole 15 weeks was super tough", Stephens said. "That's not fun for anyone".
Keys, seeded 15th, and 83rd-ranked Stephens each fought off injuries to reach the title showdown.
Consequently, her ranking kept rising, and she entered the last Slam as the World No. 83.
She added that she had indeed been invited to the celebration, but was looking for something more.
The all-American match featured a contrast in styles on Saturday, with the hard-hitting Keys unsuccessfully trying to impose her potent baseline game on her speedy and ultra-consistent countrywoman.More news: Stephen King talks 'It' and other adaptations
"If the situation was the other way around, Maddy would have said the same thing. I told her that I wished it could have been a draw".
That ranking, of course, lay well beneath Stephens' long-established quality, even if that quality had not led her back to any Grand Slam semifinal after her burst past Serena Williams to the 2013 Australian Open final four, and had seen her go 13 Grand Slams since 2014 either reaching only one fourth round or absent altogether.
Stephens is the daughter of former National Football League player John Stephens, who played five seasons with the New England Patriots before joining Green Bay and Kansas City.
"It's obviously really conflicting", Keys said.
"I can't even imagine the pressure he was under during that time".
Stephens: We met in fifth grade, but he - they won 4-0? Who will win the US Open titles this year? When Stephens was presented with her $3.7 million winner's check, she grabbed Keys' arm, as if to stop herself from fainting at the sum.
Stephens will rise to No.17 with her title, 937 spots from where her journey began this summer. He believes the extended break from tennis had some benefit.
"I think this sport is becoming more accessible but we always need to have players at the top that kind of show it is possible". She would go on to lose to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.
"This summer, Sloane's been incredible with adversity".
Stephens will not be short of family and friends, including Keys, to celebrate with in NY.
Afterwards, Stephens made her way into the player's box where she hugged her coach, Kamau Murray, and then dissolved into tears in her mother, Sybil Smith's, arms. The numbers ended on six and 30, and they demonstrated how Stephens ignored the circumstances to access her utmost form of demanding defense, while Keys couldn't do the same to pursue her customary attack. It would have been such a good day.