Tennis Player Sloane Stephens Says Racism Toward Athletes Online Has ‘Only Gotten Worse’ But Doesn’t Give Examples

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Following a first-round victory at the French Open, tennis player Sloane Stephens talked to the press about facing racism online.

According to Reuters, Sloane says that she faces more racism now than in the past.

“Yes, it’s obviously been a problem my entire career,” said Stephens. “It has never stopped. If anything, it’s only gotten worse.”

“People online have the free rein to say and do whatever they want behind fake pages, which is obviously very troublesome,” Sloane continued. “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.”

She did not cite an example of racism, but rather spoke in more general terms.

Sloane Stephens during the 2023 French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros.
Sloane Stephens during the 2023 French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. (Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Apparently, there’s a software available at the French Open to help deal with these issues.

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

“Using artificial intelligence, the software filters out abusive comments on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.”

Stephens said she’s aware of the software.

“I did hear about the software [but] I have not used it,” she said. “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.”

Without examples, it’s difficult to know to what Sloane is referencing.

Sloane Stephens claims of racism leads to examples from other countries

The Reuters article — which is a wire report being used on, The Guardian, The Independent, among others — cites recent examples from the sports world.

The interesting part is that neither example took place in the United States.

“Professional athletes in all sports are regularly confronted with racist comments and behavior, with Real Madrid soccer player Vinicius Junior the most notable recent case,” the report reads.

“English soccer club Tottenham Hotspur was working this month with the Metropolitan Police to investigate an allegation of racial abuse toward South Korean striker Son Heung-Min,” the report continues.

Son Heung-Min Tottenham Hotspur Spurs faced severe online racism that led to a police investigation.
Son Heung-Min Tottenham Hotspur Spurs faced severe online racism that led to a police investigation. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It’s important to note that Stephens was speaking in France, obviously the host nation for the French Open.

Perhaps some of these issues are more prevalent overseas. In America, our own media likes to constantly talk about our racist society.

Yet, the examples used for sports racism — sparked by comments from an American tennis player — refer to situations in European soccer leagues.

Maybe this can serve as a reminder, on this Memorial Day, that America might not be the racist, sexist, homophobic hellhole that some people believe it to be.

There are always going to be bad people who do and say horrible things. And they exist all over the globe.

But continuing to stoke racial division is not productive. Quite the opposite, rather it’s extremely counterproductive.

But here we are. On Memorial Day, with a story about racism in sports leading the headlines on several major outlets.

Without any proof or substantive examples. Just the general idea that racism exists.

It’s all becoming very tiresome.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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