The 18-year-old reached the quarter-finals in Paris last year but has now gone one better beating fellow American Stephens 7-5 6-2 over Philippe Chatrier. She still hasn’t lost a set in the tournament.
It was a quick start from Gauff as she progressed 5-2 in the first set and although she couldn’t serve it, the teenager broke Stephens’ serve to move halfway to the semi-finals.
Gauff lost the first game of the second set but she then won the next five to give herself the chance to serve for the match. Two double faults allowed Stephens to recover one of the breaks, but Gauff got the job done in the next game.
The American won the junior title at Roland Garros four years ago before bursting onto the WTA Tour stages in 2019 with a fourth-round run at Wimbledon aged 15.
Two titles have since followed, along with many perspectives on life.
“Obviously I believe in myself,” Gauff said. “Even last year, I think I was too focused on trying to meet other people’s expectations of me.
“Just enjoy life. No matter how good or bad my career is, I think I’m a great person, and that’s a message for all young players. Your results, or your work, or how much money you make don’t define you as a person.
“As long as you love yourself, who cares what other people think? »
It’s been a hectic week for Gauff on and off the pitch in Paris – she’s just finished high school, having combined her studies with full-time touring.
“Was graduated harder [than reaching semi-finals]? Yes because I know how hard it was to go to school and play tennis on the road,” Gauff said.
“Other players in general disappear from life and we think tennis is the most important thing in the world. It’s not.
“So graduating from high school meant a lot to me.”
Next up for the 18th seed is a semi-final clash against Martina Trevisan after the Italian beat Leylah Fernandez earlier today.
Trevisan have now won their last ten matches, having lifted the Moroccan Open title in preparation for Roland Garros, and they too are in the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time after a 6-2 6-7 6 -3 victory.
Fernandez was battling a foot injury that was visibly hampering her movement, but the Canadian teenager saved a match point in the second set before taking it to a decider where she ultimately failed.
On the men’s side of the draw, Alexander Zverev defeated Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling four-set encounter to book his place in the semi-finals.
Many thought Alcaraz would get the better of Zverev and go all the way in Paris, but the 19-year-old couldn’t recover after dropping two sets as the third seed won 6-4 6 -4 4-6 7- 6.
“I knew I had to play my absolute best tennis right from the start,” Zverev said.
“He’s an amazing player and I told him at net that he would win this tournament many times, not just once.
“I hope I can win once before him – and start beating us all.”