Either every single reporter across the entire 313.9 million strong population of the USA is conspiring against Sloane Stephens to publish as many damning off-the-record quotes of her criticizing Serena Williams as is humanly possible, or else the current world number 17 has a slight problem with the size of her mouth. It was only a week ago in Rome that the American spoke to Sports Illustrated and claimed that the comments that had sparked much controversy had been poached opportunistically from an off-the-record conversation over “pizza!!!” It was all the fault of this unethical journalist, she said:
“I’m really disappointed in the lady who wrote it [..] It wasn’t a good reflection and it’s not what I meant. That’s why I had to talk to Serena about it because it was not good at all.”
As if its sole intention was to make a mockery of Stephens’ defence, an entirely separate interview was published shortly, with Stephens once again having much to say about the world number one.
Today, TIME magazine has decided to wade into the fray, the American publication releasing yet more quotes of Stephens laying into Williams in February. Interestingly, this time the topic centers around an incident before Stephens defeated Williams in Melbourne – rather two weeks earlier in Brisbane when the youngster repeatedly called Williams “disrespectful” for fistpumping and shouting ‘c’mon’. Just as she was rebuffed after attempting to place blame on the journalist, she stated after her loss to Williams that her comments were simply a joke. This time, she exposed herself:
“That’s insane,” Stephens says. “Just intimidation. That’s just what happened. That’s what she does. She scares people.” At the press conference after Stephens dumped Williams out of the Oz, Williams referred to Stephens as “my opponent” and called her a “good player” but took no pains to praise her. Stephens calls such tactics mind games. “I would never do that to anyone,” she says. “So I don’t understand how some people do the things they do. That’s life. What can you do? You can’t change that. She is who she is, so you just move on.”
If one thing is for sure, it’s that this topic is boring, old and there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been argued ten times over. However, Stephens should probably spend a little less time and effort focusing what her opponents are doing – which includes reacting with faux outrage to non existent “mind games” – and a little more on her own game and the endless stream of words exiting her mouth.