By Matt Cronin, Tennis.com
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine, Sloane Stephens heavily criticizes Serena Williams, saying that the elder American hasn't spoken to her since Stephens upset Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
“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 interview that was conducted prior to the U.S. Fed Cup win over Sweden last month, when both were on the team. “And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.”
Stephens alleged that after she upset Williams in Melbourne, that not only did Williams unfollow her, but also put out a tweet she believed was directed at her that said, "I made you."
“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?”
In the interview, Stephens said that she is still upset that the Williams sisters did not sign a poster she had of them when she saw them at a Fed Cup match when she was 12.
“I waited all day [for an autograph],” she said. “They walked by three times and never signed our posters.”
Stephens said because of that, she eventually decided that Kim Clijsters would be her favorite player.
Serena has never said that she was consistently mentoring Stephens, although she has been asked many times about it. She did work with Stephens a bit during a 2012 Fed Cup tie in Ukraine.
“It's hard to be a real mentor when you're still in competition,” Williams said prior to their Australian Open quarterfinal. “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].”
Weeks before they met at the Australian Open, Stephens praised Williams after losing to her in the Brisbane quarterfinals in January.
“She's so sweet,” Stephens said at the time. “No, I love her. Obviously she's been a really great influence in my tennis year 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.
But Stephens now says that the depth of their relationship was overblown.
“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…”
Stephens has a 2-7 record since leaving Australia and lost in the first round of Madrid to Daniela Hantuchova.
Williams, who won her first-round match in Madrid, has yet to respond to the criticisms, but her agent is aware of Stephens’ comments.
TENNIS.com learned that while at the United States' Fed Cup tie against Sweden in Delray Beach in early April, a couple of weeks after Stephens did the interview, that Serena and her got a long very well, were hanging out a lot together, and that Serena was treating Stephens ‘like her favorite.’