Tennis Star Sloane Stephens Says Online Racist Abuse Has Only Worsened

After a win at the French Open, she says it is a continuation of what she’s always dealt with.

Grand Slam champion Sloane Stephens says that racist attacks on social media is a major issue that she still has to deal with, CNN reports.

After defeating Karolina Pliskova during the first round of the French Open on Monday (May 29), Stephens explained to reporters that she remains a target of racial hate online.

“It has never stopped. If anything, it’s only gotten worse,” Stephens said.

“I mean, obviously when there is FBI investigations going on with what people are saying to you online, it’s very serious. Obviously, it’s been something that I have dealt with my whole career,” she continued.

Last week, French Open officials announced they would implement anti-online harassment and hate speech tools to monitor the player’s social media content.

"As part of its strategy to take care of the players' mental health, the FFT decided to collaborate with 'Bodyguard' to fight against cyberbullying," the French Tennis Federation said in a statement.

"A team of linguists creates word patterns that enable the system to be updated in real-time according to what is posted on social media, in order to generate a more contextual analysis,” the statement went on.

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Although Stephens has not yet used the software, she said that it’s nearly impossible for it to be eradicated.

“I did hear about the software. I have not used it,” Stephens said. “I have a lot of obviously [sic] keywords banned on Instagram and all of these things, but that doesn’t stop someone from just typing in an asterisk or typing it in a different way, which obviously software most of the time doesn’t catch.”

In September 2021, Sloane revealed that she received over 2,000 racist and sexist messages after suffering a third-round loss in the U.S. Open to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

“It’s so hard to read messages like these, but I’ll post a few so you guys can see what it’s like after a loss,” she wrote in an Instagram story at the time.“This type of hate is so exhausting and never-ending.”

“This isn’t talked about enough, but it really freaking sucks... I’m happy to have people in my corner who support me,” she continued. “I’m choosing positive vibes over negative ones.“I choose to show you guys happiness on here, but it’s not always smiling and roses.”

Stephens will next face Russia’s Varvara Gracheva in the second round of the French Open on May 31.

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