Sloane Stephens: “Racism has gotten worse”


The US world-class player Sloane Stephens has been racially abused on social media for years. The 30-year-old tries to deal with it in a conventional way – so far with moderate success.

Sloane Stephens is a fan of racism affected on social media

How big the problem really is was already apparent immediately before the Paris Tennis Grand Slam tournament. This year, for the first time, those responsible at Roland Garros are offering all players software that uses artificial intelligence to offer real-time protection against cyberbullying. The active people only have to download them. This should protect your social media channels as best as possible. The aim is to use artificial intelligence to protect and maintain the mental health of the players and at the same time prevent cyberbullying.

An international top player who has long been particularly affected by racist abuse on her social media channels is the American Sloane Stephens. “Yes, that was obviously a problem throughout my career. It never has stopped. If anything, it's only gotten worse,” she said after her first round win in Paris against the Czech Karolina Pliskova (6: 0, 6: 4).

Instagram story about hate messages

A topic that the now 30-year-old visibly upsets. After all, she is a burned child. In 2021, in a mixture of anger, horror and outrage, she posted screenshots of hate messages she had received through her social media channels in an Instagram story. There were more than 2,000 messages of abuse and anger, Stephens wrote at the time. “This kind of hate is so tiring and never ends. It's not talked about enough,” she commented on the slurs at the time

Sloane Stephen's greatest triumph: the US Open victory in 2017

The extent of this hostility still have, Stephens made clear again. “Yes, I mean, when there are FBI investigations into what people say to you online, that is very serious,” she explained.  

Technical aids against cyberbullying are hardly enough< /h2>

In the meantime, attention to this topic seems to have increased – at least as far as the tournament in Paris is concerned. But Stephens wants to fight this battle alone for now.

She would have heard about the possibility, but wouldn't use the software (yet). The 2017 US Open winner tries to continue to act in a conventional way. “Obviously I've banned a lot of keywords on Instagram and all that stuff, but that doesn't stop anyone from just typing an asterisk or spelling the word differently, which of course most of the time the software doesn't notice,” she said in a mixture of despondency and disappointment.

An effective solution to racist cyberbullying seems a long way off. Despite all possible help, Stephens is under no illusions. “But, yeah, it's something I've had to deal with my whole career and I'm sure it will continue to be something I'm sure. That's it then,” Stephens said with a shrug.