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How tennis star Sloane Stephens is 'moving a generation forward' on and off the court

·4 min read
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My Beauty, My Way is a video series hosted by Yahoo Life beauty director Dana Oliver, where women of different ages and backgrounds break down their beauty routines to explain what beauty truly means to them and how it represents their cultural identity.

When you’re a professional athlete like tennis star Sloane Stephens, you’re used to a regimented lifestyle. Your day is planned down to the minute and often full of intense workouts, nutritious meals, anticipated game time and, of course, sleep. But in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest in the U.S., Stephens admits that it’s been very “hard” adapting to a “go with the flow” approach.

“For an athlete, you know your schedule, you know when you're training, you know everything that's going on,” she tells Yahoo Life. “It’s been difficult, but I’m just trying to take care of myself the best way I can... taking care of the people that I love so that I feel good myself.”

One of the ways she’s remained present is amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement by literally wearing the cause across her face mask on tennis courts like at the 2020 U.S. Open, and educating her 507,000 Instagram followers on the different ways to enact change — from voting to mentoring.

“There has never been a platform before, as loud as this one, like as your own platform,” explains Stephens. “I think for the people who do follow me and want to learn more, who simply just weren’t educated about what has happened over years and years and years, that’s something that you can educate people on... that’s how you move a generation forward instead of backward.”

When Kamala Harris made history as the first female, first Black and first Asian-American vice president-elect, Stephens immediately took to Instagram to share her excitement, writing: “Healing, unity, a way forward.” The 27-year-old shared with Yahoo Life that she understands many Black people have already been doing the work, but “are afraid,” “don’t feel like they deserve it” or there’s no room “at the table.” However, Stephens hopes this new administration will bring Black people more resources and inspire them to use those resources and take chances like starting a business or going after a promotion.

“I think people are seeing change and they're seeing things that can be done and things that are possible,” she says. “The time is now to show people your worth and your value.”

The tennis champion recently put on her entrepreneur hat to work alongside influencer Shalom Blac and artist Cristina Martinez to co-create a skin care line for Vaseline made specifically for Black women. The collection, which is currently sold out, includes the Illuminate Me Whipped Body Butter and Shimmering Body Oil. Stephens believes that “there’s something for everyone” in this line, “especially for Black women who look for moisture, hydration and something that smells good.”

She adds: “I think being able to create it for Black women in a time like now is really important and crucial. And to have something for us, made by us, I think is also really, really cool.”

It comes as no surprise that the Vaseline Illuminate Me line flew off beauty shelves, but what is refreshing to witness is seeing melanin-rich women athletes like Stephens at the forefront of a beauty campaign. This level of visibility is something that the pro tennis player doesn’t take lightly.

My beauty is power because my platform is powerful. And as a Black woman, I'm powerful. Sloane Stephens

“I think having a voice, and just being an athlete in general, I have a big platform. So to use that now for women who also look like me, like I play tennis — a sport that there aren’t that many other people of color or Black women. So if there’s six of us, we're all like, ‘OK, this is great.’ But we all have to use our platforms to make sure that people who look like us also will have the opportunity to play,” says Stephens. “I think that at a time like right now, it’s a lot of support. It’s a lot of using your platform. It’s a lot of encouragement.”

Follow Sloane Stephens on Instagram and learn how Hued and Vaseline are working to create equitable skincare for all at huedco.com/vaseline.

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