Former USC three-time All-American women’s tennis player Heliane Steden ’86 has endowed a scholarship in her name for the Women of Troy tennis program, the largest gift to the USC Athletic Department by a former USC female student-athlete from the Title IX era.
The gift by Steden, a managing director at Merrill Lynch, will be used primarily for an international player.
“On behalf of the entire Trojan Family, and in particular the USC women’s tennis program, we thank Heliane for her generous gift,” said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.
“The impact of her gift will be felt for many, many years,” he added. “I find it especially impressive that Heliane was so influenced by her time at USC that she wants to ensure other young women have an opportunity similar to hers. She truly is a role model to our current and future student-athletes.”
Steden was born in Germany but grew up in Mexico City until she relocated to the United States in 1983 to attend USC on a tennis scholarship.
Steden was a member of USC’s 1983 and 1985 NCAA championship teams who earned All-American honors for three consecutive years from 1984 to 1986. She represented Mexico in the Federation Cup for three straight years and won a bronze medal in the Pan Am Games in 1983.
The one-time top-ranked Mexican women’s player was named her country’s top female athlete in 1985. She captured three USTA Singles titles and three doubles crowns. As a professional for five years, she was a top 100-ranked player, competing in numerous tournaments, including Grand Slam events.
“When I came to the United States, I left my country and my family and didn’t know what to expect,” said Steden, who received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from USC. “I was all on my own. USC became my second home, and I learned life lessons that helped shape me into the person I am today.
“Being a student-athlete at USC impacted my life in a positive way, and I was able to compete professionally because of what I learned at USC,” she added. “I look back at my time at USC with great fondness.”
USC women’s tennis head coach Richard Gallien said: “Heliane’s gift is so important because it demonstrates to our current players and future players that when you play tennis at USC, you are a Trojan for life.
“Heliane’s success, not only on the courts, but in the business world, is a wonderful example to our young women of what it means to be a student-athlete at USC. This gift is extraordinary in itself, but the fact that a dear friend and someone of Heliane’s stature is behind it makes this extra special.”