, Sloane Stephens reveals that her relationship with Serena Williams has completely deteriorated since Stephens beat Williams at the Australian Open in January.
"I've always said Kim Clijsters is my favorite player, so it's kind of weird," she says.
In fact, Stephens describes an incident when she was 12 and first saw Williams play, in Delray Beach, Fla., at a Fed Cup tie (ironically, the two were Fed Cup teammates two weeks ago in Delray Beach), that left her with a bad impression of Serena and her sister Venus.
"I waited all day [for an autograph]," she explains.
"They walked by three times and never signed our posters." Stephens adds of the poster: "I hung it up [in my room] for a while.
I was, like, devastated because they didn't sign it, whatever, and then after that I was over it.
I found a new player to like because I didn't like them anymore." The story is particularly enlightening given how much was made of that Serena poster in the lead-up to their Australian Open match.
Asked about the poster during her post-win interview with Rennae Stubbs, Stephens joked, "I think I'll put a poster up of myself now." Stephens also eviscerated any shred of truth behind the overblown mentor-protege angle that many media outlets ran with when the two faced off in January, first in Brisbane and then in Melbourne: "For the first 16 years of my life, she said one word to me and was never involved in my tennis whatsoever," says Stephens.
"I really don't think it's that big of a deal that she's not involved now.
If you mentor someone, that means you speak to them, that means you help them, that means you know about their life, that means you care about them. No, so therefore..." I offer: "They want the next great American player." Stephens says: "They want another Serena."Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.
Get back to me when Le Bron beats Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder every time for nine years.
Sharapova is tall, white and blond, and, because of that, makes more money in endorsements than Serena, who is black, beautiful and built like one of those monster trucks that crushes Volkswagens at sports arenas. The chasm between Serena and the rest of women's tennis is as vast and broad as the space between Ryan Lochte's ears.