Email
Print
Email
Print

Sloane Stephens says she was caught off guard by Serena Williams controversy

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font
Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens won her first-round match at the Italian Open on Tuesday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

ROME — Sloane Stephens said Tuesday that she never expected her controversial comments about Serena Williams to be printed.

In the May 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Stephens questioned Williams’ authenticity and dispelled the idea that the two were close. But Stephens, 20, said she was under the impression that she was speaking off the record to author Marin Cogan.

“We were eating pizza!” Stephens said, emphasizing that the casual context of her meeting with the reporter made her believe that the late-March interview in Florida had yet to begin. “I understood the fact that those things weren’t going to be written in the article and I was just saying whatever. The person who wrote it just kind of took that and ran with it. That’s what they’re going to do.

“I’m really disappointed in the lady who wrote it,” Stephens said after defeating Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open. “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.”

Stephens spoke with the 31-year-old Williams last week in Madrid and said the face-to-face chat went well.

“We moved on. We’re past it. I think we’re OK,” Stephens said.

Williams declined to discuss her conversation with Stephens.

“It’s between us and I think it’s just best kept that way,” Williams said Tuesday after beating Laura Robson 6-2, 6-2 in her opening match at the Italian Open.

Serena talks career, pop culture and more

ESPN The Magazine‘s Cogan said it was clear that Stephens knew she was on the record and was being recorded while they had lunch.

“When I sat down with Sloane and her mother at the pizza place, I asked — as I always do with my interview subjects — ‘Do you mind if I record this? I just want to make sure I don’t miss any quotes.’ And she said she didn’t mind,” Cogan said via e-mail. “After the tape recorder started rolling, we had lunch and I conducted the interview. She discussed Serena throughout the lunch (not before). I’m certain she knew she was being recorded, because at one point a phone call interrupted the interview, and she was kind enough to alert me that the phone call had interrupted the recording on my iPhone.

“At no point during our time together or afterward did Sloane say anything was off the record; nor did she ever express any confusion at any point about the interview. Personally, I appreciated that she was so refreshingly honest in it.”

In the article, Stephens blasted Williams for being cold to her after the younger American won their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in January.

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

At that point, Cogan reported that Stephens’ mother, Sybil, tried to slow her daughter down. But Sloane continued: “Like, seriously. People should know. 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?”

Stephens said Tuesday that she hasn’t read the article and doesn’t plan to. She heard about what was in the story, which sparked criticism of Stephens among some fans on social media and message boards.

“People were writing things like, ‘Sloane’s going to get beat up in the locker room,’” Stephens said. “I mean, not true. I don’t think anybody [in the locker room] cares. The only person that matters is Serena and we’re all good.”

Asked how this incident will affect her, Stephens said: “The article coming out, it makes you kind of want to be a robot and say just all the good things and not ever say anything bad. But that’s just not the real world. So you just have to say what you feel. I think definitely people are going to write things that aren’t true and hurtful and things like that, but that’s what sells magazines and that’s what people like to read. I definitely don’t want to be a robot, but I’m going to find a way to stay positive, I guess.”

  • Published On May 14, 2013
  • 46 comments
    Jonjoe1959
    Jonjoe1959

    The people who defends Sloane Stephens comments about the Williams Sisters do so by saying how Honest Sloane Stephens was. Well, they're right, she was Honest.   "Honestly  Ignorant"

    Jonjoe1959
    Jonjoe1959

    Sloane Stephens will never rise until she "Publicly Amends" for the shameful remarks made about Serena and Venus Williams. Out of all of the pro-women tennis players, she saw fit to insult only the Williams Sisters to try and gain Favor from the Press. Until she truthfully recognize the error in her mind, heart and soul, she'll never rise. The sad part unfortunately, is that she and her camp don't truely understand that Sloane Stephens is not a "White-Tennis Player"

    DanielH
    DanielH

    I already forgive Sloane for her comments and I hope she finds the strength to forgive herself. As a successful athlete it must be very difficult to stay in perspective on where you stand in the public's mind. At present Sloane is just a good starter with the potential to go far, whereas Serena is probably the greatest female tennis player of all time. That they are both African American will definitely help their relationship in future and hopefully Sloane will be one of those to continue  with the tradition of success shown by Serena and Venus and all the other great African American athletes.

    janglegirl
    janglegirl

    Sloane is young and just being honest.  What's wrong with that? Just goes to show what a poor loser Serena was. 

    TheSteelGeneral
    TheSteelGeneral

    Also, how can Sloane be the "younger generation" if she still uses a Blackberry??? ;)

    TheSteelGeneral
    TheSteelGeneral

    I think Sloane learned a valuable lesson from all this. They both moved on. But has no one noticed how Maria stoked the fire even more? She's the real manipulator here. The ONLY right thing to do here would be NOT to mess into it.


    TheSteelGeneral
    TheSteelGeneral

    Robot! That SOOOOO exactly describes Sharapova! Her interviews are always meaningless crap. NOTHING is ever said there

    MusikaVanhu
    MusikaVanhu

    Sloane, the old hag took advantage of a YOUNGER & INEXPERIENCED WOMAN, just for a silly story.

    That is how the media morons are, like vultures of the lowest kind.

    Hopefully, some man will take care of the old hag in time; even though we doubt any real man would bother with the ugly hag, moron marin cogan.  lol

    GinaPogol
    GinaPogol

    Sloan Stephens seems to resemble Melanie Oudin more than she does Serena Williams. On and off the court. 

    guestt135
    guestt135

    Dre, you just discovered America - some tennis players are stupid. You don't even realize that the counterpart you so fiercely protect (like, she needs it) is also stupid, if not stupider. Which only means that you are stupid, too.

    dre
    dre

    You sound so stupid Sloane.  You knew you was talking to a journalist and you continue to talk to him after multiple questions.  You need to be caught off guard and thrown in the trash where you belong!!!!  You are pure sewage garbage.

    Crucial Thinker
    Crucial Thinker

    Poor Sloane still has not learned, should take a page from Serena and keep mum on subject.  Sloane needs to realize when you continually state "being honest" means you meant everything as stated, she was shocked at backlash.  When she stated that Serena was being "so disrespectful" during one of their matches it showed she was not ready for prime time..Serena is a winner, not someone who is interested in sparing your feelings on the court..

    sisaries02
    sisaries02

    MFY@SD It's too bad that an African American athlete would blast another African American athlete. Sloane, you have said nothing about the others athlete who grunts and screams during play, but you had to say something about Serena. Really? It"s not Serena job to be your corporate cheerleader. The Williams sisters have paved the way for you and those how will come after you. It has not been an easy road for them either.  You are so immature and naive that in today's time, you felt  your comments would not be printed. What was your motive? Grow up! Take responsibility  for what comes out of your mouth. Cuddles to Serena taking the high road. You have a long way go before you achieve what the Williams sister have. Listen to your mom! Get over yourself.

     

    Karen8
    Karen8

    if your don't want your words repeated or written then keep your mouth shut.....have definitely lost interest in this young person........cry baby!

    pios73137
    pios73137

    Yikes!! This piece of #@!%* is again trying to make herself relevant, despicable ;(((

     

    I wasn't this dumb at 20 yrs old, hell yess even the likes of Madison are more mature when speaking to the media

    tpwarren23
    tpwarren23

    I feel that Sloane just needs to not give the media anything...not even an explanation as to what she thought was going on. Can we just outright believe the interviewer also. No. Those people are hounds and you don't meet too many honest journalist anyway. I will stoop to any level these days b/c social media has allowed the stars to do a lot of the work they the interviewers used to do, so now a lot of journalists are desperate.

    BethannbillyWintour
    BethannbillyWintour

    MmmmmmMmmmmmmmmmohnoyoudint. Tsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssskkkkk.

    deanthology
    deanthology

    Sloane needs to grow up, and fast. This sport will chew her up and spit her out.

    tennisfan#1
    tennisfan#1

    Sloane is truly pathetic.   She has given several interviews essentially saying the same things.  Are all the journalists lying?  Why does she continue to give interviews if she knows that the journalist misrepresent her. She is right about one thing.  She did not expect the backlash.  She obviously has a problem accepting responsibility; whether it’s for her comments or her failing game.  If I were Serena, I would stay far away from this person.   She obviously has some psychological issues.

     

     

    PDW
    PDW

    SOMEONE PLEASE slap a muzzle on Sloane!!!

    PatrickFinley
    PatrickFinley

    Dear Sloane,You are a fine player, blessed with remarkable talent, attractiveness and charisma. You will have opportunities that only one girl in a million will have.  

     

    But the first rule of being an adult is taking responsibility for your mistakes.  Not taking responsibility for one's mistakes is worse than making them.

     

    And blaming someone else for them is the worst thing of all.

     

    Good luck ... but grow up.  

     

    Soon.

    StevenKeys
    StevenKeys

    "Full me once, shame on you (Sloane), fool me twice, shame on...,' NOT gonna' happen here!"

     

    Stephens may've gotten more than she bargained for (bitten-off too much to chew) with her critical comments (ESPN Magazine) of Serena Williams.  The push-back (WTA & Serena camp?) can be quite substantial with back-peddling (Stephen's latter clarification) fast, furious and hard to fully appreciate here.

     

    While I remain suspicious of the whole controversy, kudos to Jon Wertheim (5-6) in asking for "more substance" from the initial Stephens' story.  "Always risky business getting in middle of personal disputes (SK)."  But I'm not expecting Sergio to do any back-peddling on his recent dust-up with Tiger.

    emily9184
    emily9184

    Did she not consult a PR person after the fallout from the interview? Blaming the reporter doesn't exactly endear her to the media. 

    nikkidai
    nikkidai

    Sloane tweeted about the article, so I doubt her words are true here about not meaning what she said or that it's the journalists fault. Sloane lies and she hates on Serena. It's just unfortunate that the media allowed Sloane to attack Serena and aren't taking Sloane to task for her lies and duplicity.

    ChristopherAlejandroSantos
    ChristopherAlejandroSantos

    Maybe she should listen to her mother for once, and STFU! Sybil seemed to disapprove of her "disrespectful" comments at Brisbane, Sloane didn't listen. Sybil tried to restrain her from going too far in that ESPN interview, Sloane didn't listen. Let your tennis do the talking, not your mouth (unless you can back it up like the Williamses, Hingis & co who got away with being outspoken and controversial). And most of all, DO NOT insult our intelligence, acting like you were't aware the ESPN journalist asking you questions while recording WASN'T going to publish your conversation in an article >_>

    DjangoZeaman
    DjangoZeaman

    I had no problems with her comments. But I hate her not taking responsibility for them.

    jonnieanne
    jonnieanne

    So now Sloane is blaming the interviewer for this the Sloane herself said in an interview? How dense is this girl? Someone needs to get her some PR training ASAP. She just doesn't need to do anymore talking. 

    OremiKwabenaBwire1
    OremiKwabenaBwire1

    She is young and inexperienced. She will learn to be a lot more guarded.

    emma1
    emma1

    shut up already, what an idiot - will never be fan of her motor mouth!

     

    sloane serena = serena stalker

    Karen8
    Karen8

    I agree the more she talks the less I like her.  She isn't taking responsibility.  Even her mother tried to stop her during the interview.  You can't blame the journalist for writing it.  She said it so now live with it.  Her lack of wins correlates with the interview.  Sour grapes.  Own it and move.  No excuses.  I'm sure Serena knows exactly what Sloane meant.  I doubt if Serena is that good with it all.  Would you be?

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

    The more she talks, the less I like her. When is it ever going to be her fault for any of this. First it was Serena's fault, now it's the press. She says she's surprised by all the fall out and wants it to go away. Then stop talking about it! I think the truth is that her play of late isn't making news, so she's milking the one story people know about her.

    westcoasttiger
    westcoasttiger

    I don't know why so many people think journalists are always on the up and up.  They will dig so they can get their stories and blur the lines between on the record and off.  It's no wonder so many athletes get tight-lipped around reporters.  Imagine yourself getting put on blast with anything you say in private.  There are writers who can formulate an interesting take on a subject and then there are writers that need dirt to get read.  The days of great sports writing are a thing of the past - it's all about TMZ now.  Too bad.

    vs2tennis
    vs2tennis

    Really?  Then you better just stick to playing tennis and leave the interviews alone for a while or either learn how to give them without 'bashing' people.

    CameronDLewis
    CameronDLewis

    She sounds so foolish. You're talking to a JOURNALIST.

    PDW
    PDW

    PDW just now

    Sloane has every right to be as honest as she wants to be. IF she doesn't like Serena, that's fine. However, she sure didn't dispel any mistakes the press allegedly made when they asked her if Serena was her mentor. She went along with them on that and then she started to read too many of her OWN press clippings as well. Look at her record since she beat Serena in Australia. I do think she's learned her lesson from talking too much to the media and allowing them to play her like a fiddle. Not that she has to like Serena, but that she made a fool of herself believing her own press clippings and talking too much, instead of working on her own lousy game. Serena kept it classy, never said a work, and look at Serena just yesterday: 

    Serena won he 16th Grand slam, the oldest since Martina to do so, and remains the overwhelming #1 player in the WTA, and she's going for more tennis immortality @ Wimbledon in just a few weeks time, as she goes for her 17th grand slam. Sloane will never replace Serena nor do what she's done, but she has talent & she has to start to work on her OWN game, move on and grow up. Serena has moved on. In fact, I'm sure Serena hasn't thought one bit about Sloane at all, because Serena was too busy preparing for and focusing on winning her 16th grand slam title at the French Open...

     AND SHE DID!!!

    PDW
    PDW

    @Crucial Thinker  

    Yes, that backlash was horrible wasn't it? I hear her own mother was mad at her because Sloane continue to talk and talk. Well now hopefully she'll concentrate on her OWN game and leave Serena alone.

    RandomThought
    RandomThought

    Stop with the African-American versus African-American tribal faux unity thing...SS and SW are inidividuals.  The fact that they are both African-American is part of what lead to this whole "SW is a mentor to SS" PR stunt.  While there are obvious commonalities shared by African-Americans (no need to elaborate here), we (and I include myself) are not one monolithic group (which, is what leads to our outcrys over stereotyping).  Tribal group think is suffocating, let it go.

    tennisfan83
    tennisfan83

     @tpwarren23 Yep every journalist who has ever interviewed her, she has said has lied about everything so yes I trust the journalist a lot more over Stephens.

    ImJustSayin'
    ImJustSayin'

    Preach brother!  You know Sloane got caught with her "racket" down on this one!  And yes, she should listen to her mommy!  And for the sake of her career, get a freakin' PR person!  She has demonstrated more than once that she cannot navigate in the limelight by HERSELF!  Her coach could use a filter on his mouth too, as he was caught on tape discussing Serena Williams, "Come on's", as disrespectful!  They both need to work on Sloane's game and shut their freakin' pie holes!

    tennisfan83
    tennisfan83

     @badgernation74 agree--started the season 10-2 and is now 13-10 on the season. She hasn't done much since Australia so probably wants to be in the headlines somehow. Serena and Venus have won 22 grand slams alone in singles...Stephens shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath. Serena might not be the most friendly out there--but like Sharapova said you're not going to strike up a conversation about the weather or send flowers to your opponent before you play them.

    tennisfan83
    tennisfan83

     @westcoasttiger It sounds like Sloane was just mad and said what she was feeling but don't go and take it back and blame the person who wrote the article just because she might regret saying what you said. She's only what--20 years old--so she probably thought she should have kept her mouth shut after the interview--but why shouldn't the journalist print it or write about what she said about Serena--especially if she was up front that she was being recorded to begin with. You can't always blame the journalist-just because you might not like what they write about you.

    westcoasttiger
    westcoasttiger

     @CameronDLewis It's writers like Cogan that make athletes shy away from granting interviews.  Don't hate if you're a fan and your sports athlete refuses an interview.

    DjangoZeaman
    DjangoZeaman

     @westcoasttiger  What are you? Sloane's cousin? Pretty obvious she's only backtracking and trying to blame the reporter because she's afraid of the backlash, not because she was tricked.