U.S. Open Loss Behind Her, Madison Keys Accentuates the Positive

Keys, seeded 17th from the Australian Open, will face 44th-ranked Wang Qiang of China from the first round.

High hopes are not brand new to Keys’s career, which quickly accelerated via a fashion choice to a career choice.

Spotting the 1999 Wimbledon tournament on a television in her parents’ bedroom, a 4-year-old Madison decided she wanted the dress Venus Williams was wearing.

“the idea was a cutout dress, very racy, in addition to the idea showed her back,” her mother, Christine Keys, recalled. “She was just walking through in addition to she goes, ‘Oh, can I get one of those dresses?’ I said, ‘Well, you have to play in which sport.’ She said, ‘Oh, O.K.! Let’s do in which!’ Two weeks later, she goes: ‘Hey, when am I going to get in which dress? in addition to the stick?’”

Her chance introduction to the sport revealed thunderous talent. After moving via Rock Island to Florida to train at the Evert Tennis Academy, Keys quickly attracted hype.

“At 12 they said she was going to win a Slam by the time she was 18,” Christine Keys said. “How unfair can be in which?”


Christine Keys, Madison’s mother, said a tennis dress worn by Venus Williams drew her daughter to the sport at age 4.

Mary Mathis for The brand new York Times

Instead, her career has progressed steadily. Keys turned professional on her 14th birthday in addition to broke into the top 100 just before her 17th. She first cracked the top 10 from the summer of 2016 at age 20, becoming the first American woman to make her top 10 debut since Serena Williams in 1999.

While Keys lacked a traditional high school experience, she said her adolescence was hardly short of the tension many girls experience, with the added factors of competing for titles in addition to sponsors.

“the idea was constant, being compared to some other girls,” she said. “the idea still does happen; we still have a number next to our name. You kind of have to dissociate via in which. via a very young age, you had to not care what some other people were saying.”

Keys pointed to her relationship with Stephens, her opponent from the U.S. Open final, as one in which could have become particularly strained under the pressure.

“Sloane in addition to I, since we were 12 in addition to 14, have constantly been compared to each some other,” Keys said. “Sloane would likely do something amazing, in addition to I wouldn’t, in addition to the idea would likely be like, ‘Oh, well, you know, Sloane can be just better.’ Then the idea would likely flip, in addition to go back in addition to forth. the idea was amazing, because people were obsessed with comparing us to each some other in addition to trying to pit us against each some other, in addition to we were supposed to still have a normal friendship. in which’s something in which takes work, in addition to takes acknowledgment.”

Keys continued: “We’ve definitely had to balance the idea out, in addition to not focus on being jealous, in addition to not make our ambition turn into jealousy. We’ve both done a actually not bad job at continuing to stay friends no matter who can be doing what, who can be ranked where, or anything else.”

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