When I first spoke with Sloane Stephens about her relationship with Serena Williams, her voice lit up with joy. It was during last year's U.S. Open, just before she defeated Tatjana Malek in the second round. Back then Stephens said she and Williams talked all the time, and she referred to her as her "bestie."
Back then the two had never played against each other. Back then Stephens was an up-and-comer, not competition. But that was August 2012 BA -- Before Australia. Since then the two have played twice, once in Brisbane -- where Williams won in straight sets, but not before Stephens called Williams' on-the-court behavior "disrespectful" in a joking exchange with her coach -- and then of course the Open. Now -- it's on. Unfortunately it seems Stephens didn't get the memo until later.
"She's not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia," Stephens said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. "And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter." Speaking of Twitter, Stephens backpedaled a little via a tweet on Tuesday: "Guilty of being naive. Much respect 4 @serenawilliams , a champ & the GOAT. We spoke, we're good. ONWARD! #lifelessons"