American tennis player Sloane Stephens has been rocked by the death of a third family member in a manner of weeks while in hotel quarantine in Melbourne.
Just last week the 2017 US Open champion announced the deaths of her grandmother and aunt, who both died after contracting COVID-19.
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And on Wednesday Stephens, who is currently undergoing 14 days of hard quarantine in Melbourne before the Australian Open, announced her grandfather has also died.
Stephens didn’t state her grandfather’s cause of death but wrote an emotional tribute on social media from her hotel room.
“My grandpa has gone to be with the Lord and the love of his life,” she wrote.
“One week apart from my grandma. Losing her was too much for his heart.”
Stephens posted footage from after her maiden grand slam triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2017 in which she can be seen calling her grandfather in tears.
“I’ve watched this video from NY about 100 times today,” she wrote.
“My grandpa was the kindest soul and I will miss him forever. I can only hope to fill so many lives with the love and happiness he did. He is the definition of love, kindness, generosity and a true example of family.
“All I ever wanted to do was to make my grandparents proud! I’m most proud they got to witness my tennis dreams come true and become a reality.
“I’m thankful for the time I had with both of them and grateful that I can see so much of them both in my mother, who continues to be my rock.
“Stories will be told of their great love. May they rest together in eternal peace.”
My grandpa was the kindest soul and I will miss him forever. I can only hope to fill so many lives with the love and happiness he did. He is the definition of love, kindness, generosity and a true example of family.
— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) January 19, 2021
Stephens’ Aunt Anna died on December 26, while her grandmother passed away on January 10.
“My heartache feels endlessly deep. We recently put my grandma and aunt to rest within weeks of each other,” she wrote.
“COVID took Auntie Anna the day after Christmas and then took my grandmother home last Sunday.
“They both helped me on my journey to being the woman that I am, and provided me with the strength and faith that I hold onto as I face the new year without them.
“Grandma showed me how powerful we can be in life. How gratitude takes you farther. That kindness wins every time. We celebrate your beautiful soul, your big smile, your sassy ways- your whole heart.
“My aunt taught me to never take no for an answer and fight for everything I dream of. Fall down and get back up. And beyond anything, love yourself.
“Grandma and Auntie Anna, I know I’ll hear your voices when I sit down to pray. You’re always with me. I love you. Rest In Peace.”
Grandma showed me how powerful we can be in life. How gratitude takes you farther. That kindness wins every time. We celebrate your beautiful soul, your big smile, your sassy ways- your whole heart.. pic.twitter.com/2KIRLhDyjm
— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) January 14, 2021
Grandma and Auntie Anna, I know I’ll hear your voices when I sit down to pray. You’re always with me. I love you
Rest In Peace ❤️
— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) January 14, 2021
Stephens’ heartbreaking ordeal sparked messages of support from around the tennis world.
“So very sorry to read this. Thinking of you and keeping you and your family in our prayers,” American tennis icon Billie-Jean King wrote.
Madison Keys, who lost to Stephens in the 2017 US Open final, wrote: “you’ve made your grandparents beyond proud.”
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) January 19, 2021
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) January 19, 2021
This is so heartbreaking, I’m so sorry for your loss Sloane. At least you know they are together now and you will see them again someday 🤗❤️!
— Tamara Lynn (@TamaraLynn0710) January 19, 2021
Terrible news. Sorry for the losses your family has suffered recently. So cool you got the chance to share your victory with them ♥️
— HoneyDeuce (@HoneyDeuce) January 20, 2021
Ten COVID cases linked to Australian Open
Stephens is one of 72 players in hard quarantine ahead of the Australian Open because of COVID-19 cases linked to the charter flights they arrived on.
There are two players among 10 cases linked to the 17 Open charter flights, but only one is likely to be reclassified as viral shedding.
The other, an unnamed male player, as well as a member of his support staff who also tested positive, have moved to the medical hotel.
Depending on the severity of the case, the player is racing the clock to be fit for the February 8 start date at Melbourne Park.
“We had seven positive cases, none of which are players, and this morning we became aware of three more positives and they will be reported tomorrow,” Victoria's COVID Quarantine Minister Lisa Neville said on Wednesday.
“One of those is a player who we absolutely believe is shedding but he has been in hard lockdown because he came in on one of the flights where we had positives.
“Of the other two it's less clear that they are shedding and that will be worked through and that's one player and one support person.”
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