Sloane's success shows tough competition for places at WTA Finals Singapore
American's fairy-tale finish at US Open reflects exciting push for Singapore ticket
After surgery on her injured foot in January, she was unable to walk for 16 weeks.
Upon recovery, she was able to make her return to the main draw at Wimbledon this year using her protected ranking, only to lose in the first round.
She found herself sitting at No. 957 in the world.
Then she was knocked out in the first round again at the Citi Open in Washington, one of the tune-up events for the US Open.
It would have been far-fetched to believe that Sloane Stephens would have been on anyone's list of potential US Open champions.
If anyone were to have said that two months after her loss at Wimbledon, Stephens would lift the year's final Grand Slam trophy in front of her home crowd, and rise to No. 17 in the world, he or she would have been scoffed at, and labelled a dreamer.
But Stephens did dream. She believed in herself. She stayed in the moment. And her dream came true.
Her win at the US Open further proved what an exciting time it is in women's tennis.
We have seen a different champion at each of the Grand Slams this year, with two of them lifting the trophy for the first time - Jelena Ostapenko in Paris, and Stephens in New York.
To add to the thrill, the battle for the WTA world No. 1 ranking has never been this intense.
Simona Halep came extremely close a few times, with Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and veteran Venus Williams hovering in the background.
However, they were pipped by Karolina Pliskova, who then had to make way just a few weeks later for current No. 1 Garbine Muguruza.
With 28 days to go until the start of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Porsche Race to Singapore has picked up even more intensity and excitement.
The Porsche Race is all about quality performance throughout the season, and the WTA Finals celebrate the best eight players who have achieved the consistency en route to securing a coveted spot to compete for the WTA's crown jewel in Singapore.
Singapore is poised to see multiple 2017 Grand Slam champions grace the stage at the Indoor Stadium.
Wimbledon champion Muguruza was the first to book her spot in Singapore.
Among the doubles teams, US Open champions Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan have already qualified, along with reigning WTA Finals doubles champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, and Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua.
Keeping her eyes focused on Singapore now, Pliskova is working her way through the Asian Swing to put herself in a position to finish an amazing year on a high.
Joining her on the cusp of qualifying for the WTA Finals are fan favourite Halep, and newcomer to Singapore, Svitolina, while Wozniacki looks back on track to return here after missing out over the last two years.
Veteran Williams and British No. 1 Johanna Konta would be eager to step foot on Centre Court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, after both narrowly missed out in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Rounding up the top eight on the leaderboard at the moment is French Open champion, Ostapenko. The 20-year-old would be the youngest of this year's singles field.
Of course, as our players have proven time and again, it is not over until it is over.
With her impressive final sprint in the photo-finish last year, Svetlana Kuznetsova cannot be counted out especially as she lurks dangerously at No. 10 on the leaderboard.
As the tournament director of the WTA Finals, I can promise fans here and around the world one thing - we are all in for a treat as these strong, dedicated and fearless women show us why they are the best in the sport, at the grand finale of what has been an intensely competitive season.
- Melissa Pine is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and the tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She is also a former NCAA player at Washington State University and served as assistant coach of the team post-graduation. To find out more about the WTA Finals, visit www.wtafinals.com