WTA Tour

Serena still roots for Stephens

2013-05-07 19:32
Serena Williams (AFP)

Madrid - Serena Williams has insisted she is still a big fan of American prodigy Sloane Stephens despite being criticised by her compatriot in a recent interview.

Stephens sprung a huge upset when she beat 15-time Grand Slam champion Williams in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year.

However, she claimed that Williams hasn't spoken to her since that match and had even gone to the lengths of unfollowing her on Twitter.

"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 told the ESPN magazine.

"And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.

"People should know. They think she's so friendly and she's so this and she's so that - no, that's not reality!"

Williams, though, refused to react to Stephens's outburst and instead said she is still a huge fan of the 20-year-old.

"I'm a big Sloane Stephens fan and always have been," Williams said at a press conference after progressing to the third round of the Madrid Open with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Lourdes Dominguez on Tuesday.

"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.

"I really just always wish her and anyone, really, especially from America the best. We don't have that many American players, so it's always exciting to see so many young players doing so well."

Stephens's comments have been the talk of the tour since they were released on Sunday with World No 2 Maria Sharapova even praising her for her honesty.

"I'm not the one to strike up a conversation about the weather and know that in the next few minutes I have to go and try to win a tennis match. I'm a pretty competitive girl. I say my hellos, but I'm not sending any players flowers as well," she told a press conference on Monday.

"So it was nice to see that she spoke honestly about it. I think people have different perceptions of different athletes. It's nice that someone spoke up about how they feel."

However, World No 3 Victoria Azarenka insisted she has never encountered any problems with other players on tour.

"I'm trying to be friendly and respectful with everybody. We're all a big family who travel all together. You see all the girls pretty much every week, so, no, I've never had any problem really."


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