Sloane Stephens say racist abuse has 'only gotten worse' in her career

Sloane Stephens says racist abuse has ‘only gotten worse’ as American tennis star reveals she’s had to deal with it for her ‘entire career’ after French Open win

  • The world No. 30 breezed past Czech 14th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-4
  • Players at Roland Garros have been given software to counter online abuse 
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Sloane Stephens has said racist abuse is only worsening before citing FBI investigations as a means of suggesting the ‘very serious’ nature of the issue plaguing society.

The American spoke to the issue after her straight-sets victory over Karolina Pliskova in the French Open first round Monday. 

‘It’s obviously been a problem my entire career,’ said Stephens, who is African-American. ‘It has never stopped. If anything, it’s only gotten worse.’ 

‘I mean, obviously when there is FBI investigations going on with what people are saying to you online, it’s very serious,’ she said.

‘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.’

Sloane Stephens spoke to the proliferation of racist abuse at her press conference Monday

The world No. 30 breezed past Czech 14th seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets; 6-0, 6-4

‘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.’

Tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams, also black, have been targets of such abuse as have professional athletes in all sports, with Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr. the most notable recent case. 

Players at Roland Garros have been supplied with AI software designed to block racist comments. Stephens admitted she has not used it, but that it could not stop racially-hateful comments.

‘I have a lot of obviously key words 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.’

Stephens, a 2018 finalist, will face Russia’s world No. 43 Varvara Gracheva on Wednesday

The software provided by organizers for the first time is able to identify and remove racist and other forms of hate speech. The French Tennis Federation has made it available to all players at the tournament.

Using AI, it filters out abusive comments on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Stephens, a 2018 finalist, will continue her French Open journey against Russia’s world No. 43 Varvara Gracheva Wednesday. 

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