For Sloane Stephens, social media didn’t just mean photos of adorable baby animals and cooking pictures for her 13.3 million followers. It also meant intensely negative messages from fans who booed and mouthed obscenities as the 24-year-old lost in the first round of the US Open in August.
“I got 2,000 messages from people that were, you know, just sending abuse and anger and just everything,” Stephens told Vanity Fair. “It was amazing to read so many good things too. But, yeah, it just takes away from your game.”
This summer, Stephens continued to work on addressing the negativity. During the US Open, she posted a photo of a hoodie printed with a statement about self-love and self-care, the Guardian reported.
“Fight for yourself. Fights for someone else don’t affect you. Just become strong,” the shirt said. “If it was easy for everyone to accept who they are then they wouldn’t have the excuse not to.”
Stephens said she felt frustration that people took about what had happened as an endorsement for her slumping status.
“I just don’t understand why people think about it like that. I never did,” she said. “I have nothing to say about that. I’m not a part of that anymore. That part of my life is over.”
She said she’s now focused on the present. When Stephens stepped on court for Wimbledon this month to win her first-ever Grand Slam title, she had one thought.
“When I go out on the court, I can be confident in my game and myself,” she said. “And I don’t have anything to prove to anyone in the world.”