Women’s Tennis player Sloane Stephens is one of the few young, rising African American players on the tour. So naturally, people made an immediate connection between Stephens and the biggest star in Tennis Serena Williams. Many might think that the two enjoy a close relationship and perhaps Serena has become the mentor for the young rising star.
So when Stephens beat Serena in the Australian Open earlier this season, many thought it was a match between two friends. But in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, Stephens held nothing back when talking about Williams. Completely blasting her.
Per Beyond the Baseline: “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 says. “And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.”
“Like, seriously! People should know. 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?”
“For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever,” says Stephens. “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…”
Here’s the thing. The media and fans alike enjoy making connections between opposing players, sometimes creating rivalries that may not exist.
The interesting thing about the Williams-Sloane dynamic, was the fact that the media immediately wanted to paint the picture of a mentor to mentee relationship and that obviously is not the case.
But for Sloane to go after Williams in this manner says two things to me. In my opinion, I believe that she is or was hurt by the fact that Williams didn’t open up to her and provide advice for another black athlete in a sport where they are the extreme minority. Which is understandable, but here’s the other half of it.
Serena wasn’t obliged to do so. Similar to the case in Green Bay years ago where Packers and fans alike expected Brett Favre to mentor Aaron Rodgers and Favre made it clear that he didn’t want to and that wasn’t his job. Should Serena have mentored Sloane and been more friendly? That’s up to you to decide.
But should Serena have been ripped by Sloane for not doing so? The answer is a resounding no.
I think Sloane has an extremely bright future. But ripping and going after the biggest star in Tennis merely makes her sound like a brat in my opinion.