After her third round loss to Angelique Kerber at the 2021 U.S. Open, Sloane Stephens said she received more than 2,000 abusive messages and comments on her Instagram.
Stephens fell to Kerber 7-5, 2-6, 3-6 on Friday (September 3) at Louis Armstrong Stadium In New York. Via her Instagram Story, she shared how her social media has been flooded.
“I am human,” she wrote. "After last night’s match I got [more than 2,000] messages of abuse/anger from people upset by yesterday’s result. 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.”
Stephens, who was the 2017 U.S. Open women’s singles champion, said some of the messages she received included racial slurs, threats of physical and sexual abuse.
“This type of hate is so exhausting and never-ending,” she wrote. “This isn’t talked about enough, but it really freaking sucks. I’m happy to have people in my corner who support me. I’m choosing positive vibes over negative ones. I choose to show you guys happiness on here, but it’s not always smiles and roses.”
The hateful messages Stephens received comes as fellow tennis star Naomi Osaka announced she was taking a break from playing professionally.
It isn’t clear exactly why Osaka is stepping away. After her U.S. Open loss to Canadian Leylah Fernandez, she said she was dealing with the stress of competition.
"I guess we're all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I'm dealing with some stuff," she said. "I feel like for me recently when I win I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal. I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."
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