TENNIS OPINION: The sport needs a happy Serena Williams, not a sulking one
The WTA Tour could be set for one serious catfight after Sloane Stephens blasted world No.1 Serena Williams as a sore loser.
The 20-year-old rose to prominence after stunning Williams in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. The upset prompted heart-warming tales about the young gun idolising the 15-time major champion as a child and of a potential mentoring partnership between the young and old of American tennis.
However, Stephens revealed Williams has given her the cold shoulder ever since and claims the all-time great isn’t the darling of the court she makes out to be.
“People should know,” Stephens said. “They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that. No, that’s not reality.”
The pair teamed up for the USA in the Fed Cup win over Sweden last month but Stephens insisted Williams barely acknowledged her.
“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,” she added. “And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter. You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”
Stephens said two days following their clash in Australia, Williams posted a backhanded tweet on her social networking page.
“I made you,” Williams wrote, which the world No.17 believes was directed at her. Stephens also denied suggestions she regarded Williams as a mentor, saying: “For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever. 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.”
We'll start this comment by saying the Williams sisters have done a lot of good for the game. They’ve proved that to be a great success you don’t need to be white and have learnt to play at some awful Country Club inhabited by Stepford Wives who drink homemade lemonade all day.
However, both Serena and Venus have long had reputations for being great on TV, but as soon as the camera is switched off and a dictaphone is placed in front of them they turn monosyllabic to the point of being rude. That Serena’s attitude seems to be as questionable towards her fellow players is hardly surprising considering the contempt with which she has sometimes treated the game. Over the past few seasons she’s berated a lineswoman at the US Open and played intermittently with the feeling being that injuries, of which she’s had several, aren’t the only reason for her lack of appearances on court.
The women’s game needs a smiling Serena, not a stroppy, sulking one.