One of the plusses of being a top male tennis player is the requirement that you submit to media training. The ATP has been pretty open about the fact that they train tennis stars on how to handle the media and themselves appropriately.
I’ve always assumed that the WTA offers a similar service for the women. But after reading the fiasco that was Sloane Stephens’ latest ESPN interview, I have to wonder if the problem is that the WTA does not offer this service, or whether Sloane was just a dunce in media class. There are no other explanations for her abject stupidity.
For a start, let’s get real. Sloane Stephens beat an INJURED Serena in Australia earlier this year. Serena was hobbled by a twisted ankle and severe back spasms. She posted a picture of the swollen ankle lest there be any doubts as to why she lost to Sloane. You would think that this would have tempered Stephens’ celebration of her win.
Instead, Sloane revealed herself to be a kind of hypocrite. Mere weeks earlier, after losing to Serena in Brisbane, Sloane had this to say about her opponent: “She's so sweet…I love her. Obviously she's been a really great influence in my tennis career...Obviously I always was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I love her to death. She's amazing, whatever. Now she's like an actual person and I'm like, 'Oh, hi. How is it going?' She's not like a hero anymore. She's just a friend.”
As it should be. Because for every up-and-coming player of color, Serena and her sister Venus will forever be the ones that paved the way. Thank goodness they had each other in the locker room because no one spoke to them. Thank goodness for parents who loved and protected them because no one else did. And with their pain and sacrifice, they paved the way for the likes of Sloane.
But instead of graciously acknowledging this, Sloane chose to tell ESPN about a grudge she has held against the Sisters since she was 12. She and her family had waited all day for the Williams sisters to sign their posters but never got the desired autographs. A clearly delusional and narcissistic Sloane then proceeds to bash the Sisters, while apparently ignoring her mother's attempts at restraint:
‘“Yes! The people need to know! I waited all day. They walked by three times and never signed our posters…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.” The new player? Kim Clijsters.
Wow. I don’t know where to begin with this ungrateful biyatch.
Sloane has since seemed to come to some modicum of awareness. She offered a retraction via Twitter: “Guilty of being naive. Much respect 4 @serenawilliams , a champ & the GOAT. We spoke, we're good. ONWARD! #lifelessons”. Not bad from a dunce.
But here is Serena’s simply brilliant response to ESPN’s revelations: “I don’t really know. I don’t have many thoughts. 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.”
See Sloane? That’s how it’s done. When you’re the best, you don’t have to engage with ungrateful immature fools.