Australian Open Tennis

Up-and-coming tennis star Sloane Stephens is often compared to Serena Williams, the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world. Stephens, 20, has kept her lips sealed on her relationship with Williams until a recent interview with ESPN the Magazine.

In the candid Q&A, Stephens reveals tension with the Williams sisters and her honest opinion of Serena as a competitor and fellow woman of color.

Stephens defeated Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January and claims communication has ceased between them since the upset.

“She’s not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia,” Stephens said in a press interview before the U.S. Fed Cup.

“And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.”

Williams splintered her racket, slamming it on the pavement after Stephens defeated her in Melbourne. Stephens alleges this led to an unfollow and a tweet directed toward her.

“Like, seriously! People should know,” Stephens told the magazine. “They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”

Williams is a competitor, so her cool attitude toward Stephens could be perceived as a defense mechanism rather than a brewing feud between the tennis phenoms.

Serena has worked with Stephens during the 2012 Fed Cup, but she’s in no rush to mentor the burgeoning star.

“It’s hard to be a real mentor when you’re still in competition,” Williams said before her match with Stephens during the Australian Open prior. “But I’m here to compete and do the best I can, as well as she. And she’s been doing really amazing. I’m really happy [for her].”

Stephens retorts Williams’ statement, claiming she’s not seeking a mentor. She simply wants respect and approval from a woman she’s referred to as a “great influence” in previous interviews.

“For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever,” Stephens tells ESPN the Magazine.

“I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal that she’s not involved now. If you mentor someone, that means you speak to them, that means you help them, that means you know about their life, that means you care about them. Are any of those things true at this moment? No, so therefore…”

Stephens’ conflict with Williams might also stem from an incident when she was 12. She saw the Williams sisters at a Fed Cup match and was not pleased with their attitudes toward fans.

“I waited all day [for an autograph],” she said. “They walked by three times and never signed our posters.”

This incident led to Stephens adopting Kim Clijsters as her favorite tennis player.

“I hung it up for a while. I was, like, devastated because they didn’t sign it, whatever, and then after that I was over it. I found a new player to like because I didn’t like them anymore.”

Stephens insists she has no interest in being compared to Serena, but that hasn’t stopped reporters from asking her about it.  “I’m annoyed. I’m over it,” she told ESPN the Magazine.

“I’ve always said Kim Clijsters is my favorite player, so it’s kind of weird.” She believes the media wants to compare her to Williams because they’re both African-American.

However, what separates Williams from her competitors is her desire to win and excel in tennis. Stephens has a 2-7 record since defeating Williams, leading some critics to doubt her abilities.

One interviewer at a press event asked her: “What’s happening differently with these matches? You’ve lost four out of the last seven. What’s different than what was happening at the Australian that worked so well?”

“I mean, it’s just a rough time. I don’t know,” she answered. “There’s not — there’s no specific thing that I’d say has happened or is not happening, but I don’t think it really matters.”

Stephens’ losses aren’t crushing her spirit. She realizes she still has the potential to be one of the best players in the world.

“I’m 16th in the world. I can lose in the first round for the next two months and probably still be top 30. I’m not really too concerned about winning or losing or any of that, I don’t think,” she said.

Stephens ultimate goal doesn’t diverge much from Williams. She wants to break records.

“However good I can be, I hope I go there. I obviously want to win a grand slam, but whatever I do, however long I play, I hope I sustain a really long career, a healthy one, just a pretty consistent career.”

For emphasis she repeats: “I obviously want to win a grand slam.”

  • Anthony

    Serena did not get to be a champ by being nice to her competition. Sloane Stephens should be happy that Serena is icing her because it means she is good enough to be a threat. I wish Sloane had kept her thoughts to herself, she did nothing but create motivation for Serena, and serve up mess for the media.

  • The Artist

    Classic example of Black women giving into the “there can be only one hype” spurred on by the media, no doubt. I certainly hope they can reconcile. The beef is so not necessary.

  • Anthony

    Much more important than their color, Stephens and Williams are pro athletes, and competitors. Sloane should have downplayed her feelings, and used her emotions as motivation on the court. Frankly, her interview leads me to think she does not have the mental strength to be a championship level player.
    I expect Serena to crush Sloane like a soda can the next time they play.

  • KissOfDanger

    Wah, waah, waaah! Somebody call the waaaaahmbulance! Sloane needs to cut it out. She played with fire and got herself burned. Stop riding on Serena’s coattails and move on. Her 15 minutes of fame are over, and she needs to be practicing. Playing the “she’s not being sisterly” card is getting old. I’m sick of black women being expected to always be nice to each other. Especially in public places. This is why we we have so much fakery now. (especially on VH1) If you don’t like, and care too much about somebody. You avoid them. Serena is doing the right thing by ignoring Sloane. Would we rather have them at each other’s throats, or putting on a show?

  • Kelley Johnson

    I agree 100 percent. Serena doesn’t really hang out and or socialize with any of the women on tour. Seems Sloane’s expecting something from Serena since they are both black women.

  • LadyP

    I think Serena could have spoken to her, but she doesn’t have to invite her over for afternoon tea. 1). They are competitors and 2). Sloane (by participating in an individual competitive sport) should think more competitively. Now it was a team-related sport – then she could think more on the lines of building camaraderie. Also, I think by it being only a few – Sloane probably automatically expected Serena to be friendlier. I can understand from that point of view why it is disheartening, but Sloane have to let that go and just focus on tennis.

    On another note, I do dislike that fact that this beef was released to the media. While it is great to see more black women in tennis, I don’t want the negativity of this to surpass the good news of more rising BW tennis players. It seems as if our “negativity” often times takes precedence over the positive news. For instance, if they do become good friends, we may not hear about that as quickly.

  • LadyP


  • omfg

    sloane is young and dumb. she’s playing right into serena’s hands.

    serena likes to get into her opponents’ heads. and she’s so good at it.

    serena is not thinking about sloane. but sloane has serena all on her mind. sloane is being dumb and childish. boo hoo she unfollowed you. omg. gtfo. really?

    sloane, who has played poorly since the australian open needs to get a grip and concern herself with winning a tournament before she fades away like so many others who have come along and talked isht about venus and serena.

    as long as serena is cordial, that’s all that matters. serena is in it to win it.

    the worst thing is that sloane has played into the hands of the media who want nothing more than to see black women isht on each other. they will especially say anything to take down venus and serena. now, they have a black woman to do it for them.

    sloane is an idiot. and she is being played.

  • omfg

    @The Artist

    i don’t believe this is what serena and venus are about at all.

    they are incredibly charitable. they do tennis camps in africa and in the states.

    this is more about serena being a diehard competitive athlete than a black woman who doesn’t want another black woman to succeed.

    and it’s sloane whining,not serena. serena could care less about this girl.

  • Dalili

    Oh dear!

  • LadyP

    Also, I just wanted to add – black successful people (some) in their field oftentimes shun the new arrivals b/c THEY think the new arriving black ppl expect favoritism from them. Provided that, competition is not the only issue, and this also piggyback from why it is harder for BW to have mentors especially a “career” sponsor as relates to the other Clutch article- Lean in.

  • Marisa

    This is what I hate about women’s sports rarely do they care who are friends for mens sports. Womens sports is not some chick flick/Lifetime movie of the week especially those individual sports, were your only looking out for #1 not team sports were its also about your teammates. Only two entities misrepresented this whole Serena/Sloane mentorship, the media and Sloane. Serena only said she thought Sloane was a nice girl and sent her texts of encouragement and some tips that was it, the press and Sloane went with it as if they were best friends, and how she had Serena’s poster on her wall, and Serena was her favorite player. Until after she won that match and started believing the hype of her being the next Serena and next tennis IT GIRL. Sloane started saying Serena was old, complaining of Serena’s famous COME ONE rally cry, that it was disrespectful. Hello Serena does that in all her matches even against Venus who by the way shares her blood and came out of the same womb as her.

    That bothers Sloane but, not when that Russian girl took extra injury timeouts to regroup which is considered bad form and also to many cheating but, Sloane was like oh no that was fine saw nothing wrong with it. Lets be real when Sloane started that shady mess then Serena unfriended her and since when does unfriending people on twitter become a big deal, which out of all of this seems to bother Sloane GIRL BYE. She clearly wanted a friendship with Serena and thought because their both black that was an automatic, wrong. She wasn’t on Serena bad side before she is now, Sloane you better ask Sharapova who still taking ass kickings for that 2004 Wimbledon win against Serena. Do the Press care if Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton are cool because their both black quarterbacks, um no. Sloane work on your game and not Sweet Valley High issues.

  • Nadell

    This girl decided to whine through a magazine interview?! Have several….seats, benches, recliners & chairs!
    She sounds completely foolish! She acts as if she’s Serena’s 4th sister, baby sister at that, and she needs quality time to spend with her.
    Displaying a verbal tantrum is not the move – all it does is shows immaturity and unprofessionalism. Then she says she took Serena off her favorite list and replaced her with Kim…..??? Serena is numero uno, sis!
    This is a sport, Sloane. Where athletes compete for top rankings – you are competitors not besties….you can’t have slumber parties and invite each other over for tea and scones. Serena isn’t bff w/ any of her competitors…what made you think she’d be with you?

    Throwing Serena under the bus…..woooow, very classy!

    NO, Sloane!

  • Tonton Michel

    I love Serena but I cant say I am surprised by this.The great players are not going to be too friendly with rivals they want to keep that competitive edge.Sloane shouldnt take it to heart, just use that to get right back at her on the court.

  • The Other Jess

    Whoever this Sloane Stephens is, she’s an idiot. Serena Williams doesn’t have to talk to you or beg to be your friend. she’s a COMPETITOR and She’s already a champion. Keep it classy, ladies. Don’t make this into an episode of “Tennis Housewives”. That’s all they want, to see two professional Black women fighting, especially with Serena being so successful. Sloane needs to turn it down a notch. Disparaging Serena will not change her status or make her any more popular – that will not happen until she can win as many times as Serena, which is highly unlikely.

  • Tina

    I thought these were the musings of a child. I figured she had to be early teens. This 20 year old woman needs to grow up, get her head game together, and think about what’s appropriate to share with the media.

  • Tonton Michel

    In this case there really can only be one.

  • MommieDearest


    “sloane is an idiot. and she is being played”

    …like a game of Spades.

  • Guest1234

    Oh, Sloane. Not a good look, girlie. Serena Williams doesn’t owe her anything. And whining because Serena isn’t warm and fuzzy makes Sloane Stephens look like a complete idiot! It’s one thing for black folks to go around acting like other black folks owe us something PERSONALLY simply because we’re of the same minority group, but to air that kind of drama publicly in ESPN magazine? Yikes!

    Serena is a competitor. And a notoriously temperamental one, to boot (clue: THAT’S what makes her such a great athlete.) Why the hell should she stop being everything she is, and re-work her entire approach to the tennis world to make Sloane Stephens feel welcome? That is beyond crazy, and a little bit stupid. Sloane needs to get back on the court, practice, do her thing, and leave Serena alone. Badmouthing her in the press is just ugly, juvenile, and stupid. I’m really disappointed that Ms. Stephens made this uber-childish choice. I’m looking at her seriously sideways.

    Really. Serena gets more than her share of unjust criticism and hate just by virtue of being an unapologetically beautiful BLACK woman and a ROCK STAR on the court. Why Sloan gotta throw extra gas on that fire? Does she think these white sports journalists are her friends? Does she think that the second SHE starts winning all the majors they won’t treat her just as bad as they treat Serena – looking for some newcomer to provide justification for their racist-laden hate? How incredibly naive. Don’t join the bandwagon, girl. Because as soon as YOU become a threat to them, too, they’re gonna chuck you right off and burn you as bad as they try to burn Serena. Damn. Where are this girl’s parents?

    Ok. I’m done, now. :)

  • Apple Pie

    This girl needs a PR rep quick!!

  • Marisa

    Bwhahahaha Tennis Housewives you better hope Bravo, VH1, and BET aren’t lurking because yall know that’s their next ratchet reality show.

  • MommieDearest

    Sloane, sweetie, baby girl…

    The LAST thing you want to do is piss Serena off. She will eat you alive the next time you meet her on the court.

    I hope Serena doesn’t fall for the bait and that she refuses to address this foolishness publicly (if at all).

    Meanwhle Sloane’s parents need to muzzle that child until they find her some better people.

  • binks

    I agree. Why do people automatically expect that just because two people are black then automatically we are going to be besties, have this sistah girl moment or whatever. Sloane immaturity is showing and she took the bait of pinning two black people, particularly women, against each other in the media. Serena acknowledged and gave
    her props what else do she wants. Maybe she unfollowed you to step her game up and not as a slight who knows. Furthermore, besides tennis what are they going to talk about Serena is 31 years old she is 20.

  • Marisa

    Sloane’s mother was there during that interview had tried to haul her back from the abyss but, she just ignored her mother’s request she STFU. What I hate is not just those with entitlement issues but ridiculous self -entitlement issues. Sloane was crowned the new IT GIRL from the Aussie Open math and expected both Venus and Serena, more so Serena to just kiss her ass and step to the side. Doesn’t work that way kiddo those ladies are still playing and capable of still winning, and wont step away on nobody else terms but their own.

    Even if they did become friends did she think that that Serena wasn’t going to be looking for payback on the court. Ask those dudes that played against MJ who were his friends how he did them on the court, the same as he did against the dudes he hated, DESTROYED all of them. Serena is on the MJ, Joe Montana, Gretzky, Jerry Rice, Chris and Martina level of beat your opponent in the dust, and break their will while your at it. Sloane better figure that aspect of sports out and her game before she starts chirping about anybody else attitude.

  • ChaCha1

    I think she is looking for a sort of sisterhood between them, but they she is competition. And what was she thinking by talking about this to that degree? If people are asking about her feelings, she shouldn’t be divulging like that. If asked, she could’ve just said something to the effect of “I think Serena is a good competitor” and kept it moving. This makes her look very young and high-schoolish. She also seems very sensitive. Who else would be that upset about getting unfollowed or unfriended by someone they rarely speak to or didn’t get a autograph when they were 12 other than an extra sensitive person? People have the right to feel any way they feel, but when you have the spotlight on you, you have to learn what you should/shouldn’t say.

  • Dave

    It is difficult to root for Serena. She is literally one of the least like-able players on tour.

  • Yb

    “sick of black women being expected to always be nice to each other”

    0_o umm….what?

    Forcing to act all chummy chummy, and as if you best friends with someone just for the sake of not falling into a stereotype is wrong but I don’t see anything wrong with black women practing common courtesy and social politeness towards each other. Nice doesn’t mean acting like your besties and fawning over someone. It’s having social etiquette and having the decency to at least be polite to others in social and public settings.

    Sadly it seems the some black women don’t understand that being nice and polite is not the extreme some perceive it as.

  • Bella

    Why all the negativity towards Sloan? Her comments are kind of ancient if you ACTIVELY followed Serena & Venus’ careers. It’s known that they are/were cold people to fans. Although I’m a bit older than Sloan I remember hearing the exact same things that happened to her. She was simply stating facts. And I mean you guys are calling her young, yet it’s fine for Serena to unfollow her on twitter and not ever speak to her. Nobody finds that weird?

    This whole article is weird. Seems kind of biased to paint Sloan in a certain light, yet you guys are saying it’s going to stir the media. CLUTCH INCLUDED.

    And again, if you’ve ACTIVELY followed tennis, or any sport for that matter, you would know many athletes have gone through rough patches just like Sloan. Aaaaand then gone on to win. Plus real tennis doesn’t start till summer time.

    Lastly, Sloan has said these Serena topic has become annoying and that Serena not being a mentor wasn’t a big deal. I don’t think she’s hung up on it. Let’s see the full interview.

    I honestly thought it was funny simply because I watched the game, saw Serena’s anger and could believe everything she’s saying. Try being objective, she’s young but she didn’t say anything that out of the norm.

  • No_chaser

    Does this young woman have any advisors to prepare her for these interviews?
    Granted, if what she says about Serena is true, it’s truly shameful, but why would this young woman put all their personal business out there?
    As if Serena or any Black woman out there doesn’t have enough of the public judging us, waiting to pit us against eachother! Same thing for Tyra Banks, telling the world how awful Naomi treated her.
    Tell that to your therapist, not the American public!

  • Marisa

    That’s on Sloane for running her mouth talking about how her and Serena talk on the phone all the time, and they were oh so cool. She made herself out to be a stan, and then when she didn’t get the friendship she sought, turned around and whined like she was owed anything. Also how Serena was never her favorite player, once again people need to stop taking twitter so seriously really somebody you publicly shaded un followed you. Sloane should be focusing on how she has done little since that match in Australia. Enough people have come for Venus and Serena Williams for all type of stuff that are ridiculous.

    A commentator said it best if an it was an young white American tennis player who made this case, who would care. Nope everybody suppose to be best friends forever because their both black . When Raphael Nadal wanted a closer friendship with Rodger Federer than the cordial that they had, Rodger was universally applauded for wanting to keep his chief rival at arms length. Amazing how The Williams Sisters are suppose to be Girl Scouts on the Women’s tour when they didn’t and in a lot of cases don’t receive that courtesy.

  • Starla

    Your opponent cannot be your mentor, it is impossible. Maybe Serena shut down contact because she felt she was getting too close and it could jeopardize her game. Shutting down contact does not automatically mean she doens’t like you or wish well for you,or is upset but she is an opponent and if she was getting too close it would affect her work. Until Serena retires from the sport she cannot be a mentor to anybody she will playing against.

  • Dalili


    Tennis is an individual sport, it’s not the quilting bee. I understand a large part of the population doesn’t quite like Serena, however if you’ve read the interview there’s no doubt Sloane comes off as an entitled, narcissistic individual. I mean a poster incident from when she was 12, Serena unfollowing her on Twitter, deleting her from her black berry??!! It was asinine in my opinion. Her tone in that interview was just off. She referenced more personal stuff than professional which shows she has some growing up to do.

    And I beg to differ, real tennis begins in January with the Australian Open. It is after all considered part of the Grand Slam.

  • MommieDearest


    “Your opponent cannot be your mentor…Until Serena retires from the sport she cannot be a mentor to anybody she will playing against.”

    To quote Binks: BINGO!

    This is just common sense. Also, Sloane is 10 years younger than Serena. When Serena retires, Sloane will still have many good playing years left. If she’s smart, she will stop speaking out on Serena, work on her game and bide her time until Serena retires. By then this will be old news and maybe she will be able to strike up the mentor relationship she’s seeking.

  • Anthony

    Common sense statement, Starla, somebody needs o talk to Sloane.

  • Bella

    Either way, people calling her an idiot, stupid, etc is kind of immature. Especially when she’s only 20. At best, just say the child has growing to do.

    Ok Soooooo no one said that she needed to be her mentor. quilting bee? I don’t get it. I am very aware that it’s an individual sport, as I played tennis. She also has NEVER called Serena her fav player or said she wanted her to be her mentor. What is the beef? Serena doesn’t want to talk to her and Sloane said it. Moving along.

    And yes the Australian Open was in January. Which she beat Serena in. I’m not looking at that because it has passed. Maybe I should have said ‘starts back up again’? Does that please you Dalili?

  • Just saying

    Why must it be a secret? That feeds into social norms as it being ok for men but making women look bad…

  • Anthony

    Real quick!

  • LemonNLime

    “Like, seriously! People should know,” Stephens told the magazine. “They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”

    That line seriously made me feel old and I’m only 27. Really, following someone on Twitter constiutes a friendship now? And unfriend or unfollowing someone is the equivilent of an ultimate insult? I weep for my generation, seriously.

  • godivabap

    “she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.” – Get your life.

  • ChaCha1

    No matter what Serena is like as a person, Sloane needs to learn what to say and when, since she is well known. The things she said/feels are fine if she’s talking to her best friend or parents. People can’t talk about what you say, how you feel, and how you appear if you don’t talk about things like this in public.

  • Ravi

    being nice to your competition doesn’t affect your ability to be a champ. Every sport has champions that are nice and that are assholes. Being a jerk doesn’t make you a better player. It would be one thing to never follow her on twitter or BBM, but to only unfriend her because she beat her — that was a punk move. She’s just being a sore loser

  • jamesfrmphilly

    they done made up now…’s over (till she beat her ass again)

  • binks

    I get what you are saying but I don’t think KissofDanger means to flat out be nasty/mean to a fellow black woman publicly and not be nice at all (I think “nice” should be substituted for “like” here though) but even if you are nice/cordial (or even politely avoid a person because you don’t like each other) there are some people who act like you HAVE to be their friend/in their “circle” or get along automatically especially if you are at a place, doing an activity, etc. where there is little too few black people participating in when that is not always the case. In this case, Serena was polite though she lost and distanced herself from Sloane on social media for whatever reason; what more does Sloane wants? Why does Sloane expect Serena to bend over backwards and accommodate her just because they share the same skin color? It would be nice if they formed a super group of black women tennis awesomeness but sometimes reality doesn’t pan out in the Kumbaya way we envisioned and that is OKAY. Contrary to popular belief solidarity doesn’t happen overnight/instantly but is a process and maybe this bump in the road is a part of the process or maybe Serena doesn’t see her as a friend but another competitor she can respect but don’t want to know personally…but there is no reason to feel slighted on Sloan’s part nor should Serena be demonized here. This situation seems to be going way pass just being “nice” but to feeling like someone think another person owe them something when they don’t.

  • Anthony

    Being distant or unfriendly does work for some athletes. Even being friendly can be a way to get into a competitor’s head. Michael Jordan basically plunked Charles Barkley by befriending him. Champions are always looking for an edge.

  • Ravi

    I’m not saying that it isn’t used; I’m saying it isn’t necessary. It doesn’t make you better as an athlete. Michael Jordan would have done his thing regardless of whether he followed Charles Barkley on Twitter (if it was around back then). And I can’t think of too many great athletes that would sever contact with a competitor just because they lost a single competition to that individual. Champions may always be looking for an edge, but unfriending someone on BBM gives you no edge over them. I doubt she did it because of some perceived edge. She did it because she is a sore loser of great renown. If she would have won in straight sets, they would be social networking friends to this day.

  • MommieDearest

    Thanks james! So, I googled…

    Serena’s response when asked about the “beef”:

    “I’m a big Sloane Stephens fan and always have been. I’ve always said that I think she can be the best in the world. I’ll always continue to think that and always be rooting for her.

    “So I really just always wish her — and anyone, really, especially from America — the best. We don’t have that many American players, so it’s always exciting to see so many young players doing so well.”

    I soooo <3 Serena for not feeding in to the hype and shutting that nonsense down in a ladylike manner.

    Sloane's tweet:

    "Guilty of being naive. Much respect 4 @serenawilliams , a champ & the GOAT. We spoke, we're good. ONWARD! #lifelessons"

    Good for her, and I hope she really learned something from this.

    But Serena is STILL going to eat her alive when they meet on the court again. LOL!!!

  • Child, Please

    I understand the comments on here, but did Serena really have to be just as childish about it? I mean she’s an adult, competitor or not, she can be cordial without having the self-serving attitude that Kobe was criticized for when he was young and still has to this day. True, Sloane didn’t have to say what she said, but on a site where we talk about how we hate that the media pits women against each other, why are we coming down hard on a young’un by calling her “stupid” and “an idiot?” I know Serena is generally a favorite in tennis, but you have to call a spade a spade and see that Serena’s actions don’t show that she’s a competitor, but a sore loser. I hope Sloane doesn’t let it get to her too bad.

  • JS

    I actually agree with Ravi. Serena doesn’t have to mentor or be all up in Sloane’s business but its a sore, salty and petty move to completely cut contact with someone just because they beat you in a match.

    Serena and her sister are used to be the only Black women in professional tennis but if anything they should be welcoming of newcomers that they paved the path for. The insecurity and jealously is not needed. You know its insecurity because at the point Serena is in her career she is already a tennis legend. No one can take that away from her even if she never won a match again.

  • JS

    I’m surprised at most of these comments. The whole Solane being a Serena stan was when she was 12. Was I the only one who picked that up?

    While I do think she would have loved if Serena was her mentor, it seems as like the article says the media is the one comparing Serena to Solane and mentioning them together rather than that being Solane’s doing. I agree that I don’t think Serena “owes” Solane anything, however I just don’t see that vibe of entitlement from Solane at all.
    Solane is upset because the media keeps on making comparisons and assumptions about them being friends when in fact Solane got snubbed after beating Serena. Yeah its a bit immature to be upset because someone snubbed you but its also human nature. I doubt one person here would be able to brush it off if everyone went around making comparisons and painting a certain picture of you and another person’s relationship when in fact it was the opposite.

    Honestly I do think part of the reason Serena snubbed Solane had to do with her being Black. Not because she hates her own people but because of the media comparisons. Serena and her sister are used to being the only Black women special snowflakes of tennis. Now some new girl pops up who the media keeps making comparisons to Serena, Serena felt she needed to prove herself. I think Serena walked into that match thinking her winning would separate her from that talk of Solane being the “next Serena.” When Solane beat her insecurity and sour grapes set in and she couldn’t handle it. Honestly I think that is a character flaw in Serena.

    Right now, I do Muay Thai. That is even a more competitive sport because of the physical hand to hand combat during matches. I have fought against both people I know and friends, being friends with someone should not rattle your game. In the ring is in the ring and outside of the ring is outside. What I love about Muay Thai is unlike a lot of other sports since it is martial arts it teaches you respect. All the energy you waste in trying to psych out the competition turns into negative energy which works against yourself. Besides I actually like competing against friends because I practiced with them and I know their strengths and weaknesses and they know mine, makes for a much exciting match because it comes down to pure reflexes and skills.

    I disagree with everyone saying Serena got in Solane’s head. If anything Serena cannot get Solane out of her mind and Solane clearly psyched Serena out if she has to cut off all ties to “focus.” If Serena found inner calm and confidence she wouldn’t need to be so icy to be at the top of her game. I loose matches and I win matches. You don’t see me punching holes through walls or breaking rackets like Serena. There is a fine line between being competitive and being a jerk.

  • JS

    Solane is 20, Serena is 32, there is definitely going to be some generational gap there in the understanding of the applications and implications of social media. I work in advertising companies spend hundreds of thousands on social media campaigns to maintain and gain followers and build something unique to their brand to humanize their products. Mentioning that because if companies would spend that much time and money on social media it isn’t simply, “another way to keep in touch,” it has its own culture and rules that go along with it. Just look at the power and impact of memes, cyberbullying, and the importance of online reputations. The younger generation has a better grasp on that then the older generation. I’m not too much younger than you, 35, the only reason I have such a deep understanding of it is my job. So it has nothing to do with immaturity just your lack of understanding the complexity of social media’s subculture (no shade intended).

  • Anthony

    Ravi, you cannot speak for how someone else’s mind works. People are unique, and what motivates one person is not guaranteed to work for someone else. This goes double for truly elite athletes that perform at levels most of us could never really imagine.

  • Ayo

    Serena hasn’t done anything wrong, though; Sloane’s talking out of both sides of her mouth. If you go back through all of her pressers, ones from before and after this interview, Sloane has nothing but nice things to say about Serena Williams, making it seem like they’re good friends, like they talk all the time, as if she’s her mentor.

    Someone at TF compiled all of the good ones:

    Sloane is a crazed, delusional fan.

  • Ravi

    Nor can you. It seems you are doing the very thing you are telling me I can’t do. Serena never indicated that being mean or unfriendly was a tool to her success or in any way a part of her motivation. That’s your assumption. Just as you can speculate that she might be using mean and petty behavior to get an edge, I can speculate that she’s doing it because she is a sore loser and that it isn’t necessary for her winning.

  • Anthony

    Ravi, sore loser or getting an edge, this has turned into a pissing contest. The bottom line is Serena has gotten great results for a very long time, and Sloane would like to be where she is.

  • Ravi

    perhaps, if you think someone disagreeing with you = a pissing match. And the real bottom line is that she got to be the champ regardless of how nice she was to competition. case in point:

    “I’m a big Sloane Stephens fan and always have been. I’ve always said that I think she can be the best in the world. I’ll always continue to think that and always be rooting for her.
    So I really just always wish her — and anyone, really, especially from America — the best. We don’t have that many American players, so it’s always exciting to see so many young players doing so well.”

    sounds pretty nice to me.

  • Anthony

    Alright, you disagree with me, and I was wrong to call your disagreement a pissing contest.

  • Child, Please

    “Serena hasn’t done anything wrong, though” — Um, doing things like unfollowing someone and deleting them from Blackbery Messenger is very petty! I wish people would realize that and not tear Sloane a new one. I’m sure if we were talking about another tennis star who wasn’t a favorite, we’d say the same thing. As a matter of fact, I remember people calling the women who spoke out on LoLo Jones petty and angry for telling their genuine feelings, ignoring the fact that maybe, just maybe, LoLo could very well have been just as they described. It’s almost as if the fandom of others’ by more well known celebs has clouded their judgment to the point where they can’t see that Serena or LoLo may not live up to this “halo” persona they’ve developed for them. Serena saying “nice things” is only a part of positive press – something people wish Sloane had. I’d say if she was as genuine as her words, she shouldn’t have been petty in her ways.

  • Child, Please

    I agree with everything you said, sadly, it may fall on deaf ears.

  • Dalili


    While I don’t think Ms. Stephens is a delusional fan, I do think she came across as a bit entitled in that ESPN interview. As a die hard Serena fan, I’ll readily admit she isn’t the most gracious always (she’s come a long way), however I fail to see how some on this thread consider her a “competitive jerk” & “sore loser” based on Sloane’s statements. All because she unfollowed her on twitter and deleted her from her black berry??!! Am not big on social media etiquette, but I’d imagine someone following you is a privilege, not a right.

    Additionally I get that Sloane is weary of being compared to Serena, that’s totally understandable. But those comparisons come with the territory and she’ll have to learn how to divert them in a more genial way. Reporters are going to ask uncomfortable questions and make comparisons at the most inopportune times, it’s what they do. It seems this unfortunate interview was a great example: Sloane had just lost to Agnieszka Radwanska and had to do an interview in which the reporter asked her about Serena and the Australian Open…..and it just sorta went downhill from there.

    I don’t know much about Muay Thai. What I will say is Tennis is a mental game too, but that only serves one well when they are on the court. I doubt that either player “got in the other’s head”, that would be futile. Serena has been around long enough to know you win some and you lose some and am sure the loss to Sloane stunned her. But am hard pressed to believe she’d be so underhanded about something she’s experienced time and time again. Who knows what led her to create some distance between her and Sloane?

    Sloane seems talented enough to be around a while on the WTA tour. I hope she(and those in her camp) use this is a teachable moment. When presented with a chance for exposure, use it to your advantage. Toot your own horn even when the interviewer drudges up some sensitive issues. She failed this time, but there’ll be plenty others. As I said before I know not too many are fond of Serena, but this whole fiasco sits squarely in Sloane’s court. She is/was the author and finisher(she apologized yesterday).

    PS: Serena isn’t the only player who slams their racket when frustrated. It happens quiet a bit. :-)

  • KissOfDanger

    You know what. I remember my first week in 10th grade science class when my very southern white male teacher told us that we didn’t have to be “nice” to each other. This speech happened after some drama of course. He said forcing yourself to be nice is being fake and it will breed resentment. He told us that we don’t really owe anyone “niceness” they have to earn it. However he told us to ALWAYS be CIVIL. I will never forget that.

    Serena was civil towards Sloane. Game over. Sloane needs to grow up. Serena did respond back, though, in a CIVIL manner.

  • JS

    I commented on it else where but social media etiquette does play a big role. Solane is 20 and Serena is 32, the age gap there is evident. Social media to Solane likely isn’t social media to Serena. It isn’t Serena’s fault she doesn’t understand however social media is changing the way we communicate and our relationships with people. I work in advertising and part of my job is keeping up with these trends. Unfollowing or defriending on social media now is the equivalent of saying “I don’t like you enough to even ignore you” especially because their are controls where you don’t even have to see any updates or info about them but can still remain connected. It’s kind of like the ultimate snub nowadays. For those who don’t recognize it as that because they did not grow up that way, I don’t think its their fault. Just as I don’t necessarily think its Solane’s fault for not realizing the generational gap (if in fact Serena did not mean it that way although I do personally think she did mean to snub her).

  • Foxy Fort

    The jealous party is Sloan who did not show Serena the respect a champion deserves. Instead Sloan pumped her chest declaring herself the new kid on the block. Sloan should concentrate on her tennis because one victory over Serena does not make her a champion. And didn’t Sloan say that she would take Serena’s picture down and put her picture on her wall. Any person would not continue to be friendly or speak. In fact that is exactly what I do in my normal treatment of people who diss me and do not have any impact on my life or wallet, do not acknowledge the person nor speak them or allow them into the theater of my life.

    Even Sharapova says she does not get friendly or speak to the competition. Chanda Rubin played during the Williams sister era. Did you know that when Venus defeated Serena at Wimbledon in 2007 or 08 Serena went off to herself away from her mom and family for several weeks because she does not like to lose ever and is usually harder on herself for any errors she makes. Her mom says she has to suck it up. But Serena works on improving her game all of the time and that is a point Sloan should take seriously.

    Vincent Lombardi the famous NFL coach said winning is not everything, it is the only thing.It is not Serena’s responsibility to take care of Sloane, to speak to her or otherwise if Serena believes it is necessary for competition, they are competitors.

    My observation about the Nadal versus Djokovic rivalry is that after Nadal defeated him for his US Open slam, Djokovic became Nadal’s best bud including doubles play at one point. I am not taking anything away from Djokovic’ great play, but my personal opinion is that it was bad for Nadal as a competitor. Beware of the saying, “KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSER AND YOUR ENEMIES, i.e., COMPETITORS CLOSER”

  • RaiseTheBar

    Serena is a competitor and as one it is understandable she cannot be tooooooo “friendly” with her competition.

    Once again, the MEDIA seeking to create personal rivalry where it’s “Just Business”.

  • janet

    Sloane has been talking ill of Serena to see whether she will get favour from the media,but life doesnt work that way,play your part by atleast winning a title coz i dont see her winning a gland slam with this attitude,why can she learn from down to earth Genie. If u want to be respected just respect yourself. Sloane need to put a sac in her mouth. She has not won a title yet and still comparing herself with Serena,she is aiming too high. bY THE END OF THIS YR sLOANE WILL B RANKED 100,mark my words.

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