Tennis Star Sloane Stephens Says Racist Abuse on Social Media Has ‘Only Gotten Worse’

Jill Martin, CNN

*(CNN) — Tennis star Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion and 2018 French Open finalist, says racist abuse targeted toward her on social media has been a problem throughout her entire tennis career.

“It has never stopped. If anything, it’s only gotten worse,” Stephens, who is Black, told reporters after winning 6-0 6-4 in the first round of the French Open against No. 16 seed Karolina Pliskova on Monday.

Roland Garros announced last week that players will have their social media content moderated by an anti-online harassment and hate speech tool.

“I did hear about the software. I have not used it,” the 30-year-old American said.

“I have a lot of obvious 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.”

Sloane Stephens (Robert Prange-Getty Images)
Sloane Stephens (Robert Prange-Getty Images)

Stephens was asked how bad the abuse is, to which she replied: “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.

“I think that, like I said, it’s only continued to get worse and people online have the free rein to say and do whatever they want behind fake pages, which is obviously very troublesome.

“But, yeah, it’s something I have had to deal with my whole career and something I will continue to deal with, I’m sure. That’s that.”

Stephens, currently ranked 30th in the world, did not provide further details on the abuse she has received when speaking with reporters Monday.

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