Tennis Stars Describe 'Never Ending' Abuse

Americans Shelby Rogers, Sloane Stephens speak out
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2021 7:31 AM CDT
Tennis Stars Describe 'Never Ending' Abuse
Shelby Rogers, of the United States, reacts to losing a point against Emma Raducanu, of Britain, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships in New York on Monday.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

It's not just Naomi Osaka who's making clear the various pressures placed on athletes at the US Open: American Shelby Rogers on Monday said she was preparing to receive "nine million death threats" on social media following her fourth-round loss to Britain's Emma Raducanu. Rogers was "hailed as a hero" after defeating top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia on Saturday, but later noted how opinions can shift from "one extreme to the other very quickly," per the Guardian.

"Then you have today and I'm going to have nine million death threats and whatnot," the 28-year-old said at the post-match press conference, per ESPN. "You could probably go through my profile right now—I'm probably a 'fat pig' and words that I can’t say right now," Rogers continued. "You try not to take it to heart, and it’s the unfortunate side of any sport and what we do," but it "does get to your head sometimes." She said she uses social media for marketing and sponsorship commitments but "I wish it didn't exist. It's really tough."

Days earlier, fellow American Sloane Stephens said she'd received more than 2,000 abusive, racist, and sexist messages following her third-round loss to Germany's Angelique Kerber. "It's so hard to read messages like these but I'll post a few so you guys can see what it's like after a loss," Sloane wrote on Instagram, sharing horrible messages from strangers. "This isn't talked about enough, but it really freaking sucks," the 28-year-old added, per the Guardian, describing the hate as "so exhausting and never ending."

story continues below

Becky Ahlgren Bedics, vice president of mental health and wellness at the Women’s Tennis Association, notes athletes are told "what they look like, how they perform, who they are as a person, what their morals and values might be through the interpretation of anonymous folks online," which is why it's important to "listen to yourself," per the Washington Post. US Open athletes also have access to mental health support, including counseling and "quiet rooms," per CNN. (More US Open Tennis stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.