Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion and 2018 French Open finalist, believes that the racist abuse directed toward athletes online has not gotten any better.
“It has never stopped. If anything, it’s only gotten worse,” Stephens told reporters, as ESPN reported, after winning 6-0 6-4 in the first round of the French Open against No. 16 seed Karolina Pliskova on Monday.
Roland Garros, more popularly known as The French Open, 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,” said Stephens.
She continued, “I have a lot of obviously 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.”
After being asked about the severity of the abuse, Stephens responded: “I mean, obviously when there are 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,” she continued. “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, who is currently ranked 30th in the world, did not provide further details on abuse she had received when speaking with reporters Monday.