MELBOURNE, Australia — Kudos to the producer at Australia’s Channel 7 who must have issued the directive to track down Sloane Stephens to get her reaction to Ana Ivanovic’s big win over Serena Williams on Sunday. Stephens was watching at Melbourne Park when Ivanovic sealed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory to secure her spot in the quarterfinals of a Slam for just the second time since winning the French Open in 2008.
Cameras caught Stephens celebrating with her team on match point and Channel 7 initially aired the footage implying that Stephens was celebrating Serena’s loss, as she’s seen almost giving a high-five to her hitting partner, Andrew Fitzgerald. The station later clarified that Stephens was actually mimicking the celebration coming from Ivanovic’s player box. Phew. I was starting to get worried World War III between the two American stars might break out.
“At the end of the match, Ivanovic’s coaches pretty much gave each other head butts and kisses, and I thought that was the funniest thing ever because I have never seen a more excited head butt/kiss at the end of the match,” Stephens explained on Monday. “Andrew and I were like, Oh, my God we were going to do the same thing. We were so excited. Then of course after I’m on the bike, and then I was like, Were they recording that? Then of course in posts and everything of course I’m cheering against Serena, which had nothing to do with it.”
Here’s video of Channel 7′s corrected report:
With Williams’ loss, Stephens is the last American standing for the third time in the last five Slams. She defeated Williams in Melbourne last year to make the semifinals and then survived the slew of upsets at Wimbledon to reach the quarterfinals. Next up is a rematch of last year’s controversial semifinal against Victoria Azarenka. The two haven’t played since that match, a 6-1, 6-4 win for Azarenka that was marred by her questionable medical timeout late in the second set.
Stephens, who described her off-court relationship with Azarenka as “non-existent,” says the disappointment of last year’s loss is long behind her.
“That has nothing to do with this year,” Stephens said of the controversy surrounding last year’s match. “I don’t even remember half the stuff that happened.”
Azarenka, who came under fire by media and was booed by fans in Melbourne after the incident, says she takes nothing but the positive memories from the match. When asked what she learned from it all, Azarenka said:”What is there to learn? I mean, it was just a great experience for me to be playing in the final and winning the title. That’s what I learned, I guess, yeah. Just [learned] how to win [a] second Grand Slam.”
Stephens takes on Azarenka in the second match on Rod Laver Arena at approximately 9 p.m. ET Sunday.