(March 15, 2015) Since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open, there has not been much love between the world No. 1, 19-time major champion and the woman turning 22 on Friday, who is No. 42 in the world. The two women will face off for the first time since the 2013 US Open for a spot in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
Both women had completely different matches on Sunday to reach the fourth round of Indian Wells.
Williams, returning to play Indian Wells for the first time since 2001, dominated first-time Indian Wells participant Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-0 in just 53 minutes.
For Williams, she’s on a 13-match win streak since claiming the Australian Open.
Stephens survived a topsy-turvy contest against two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4. Stephens had a 4-0 lead in the final set.
Williams on her potential match up against Stephens: “I have had some tough matches with Sloane. She’s had an interesting year, but I have noticed that she’s been really playing well. She moves well and she tries to do her best for everything. That would be an interesting, good matchup for me.”
Asked about what she expects in her match against Williams, Stephens said: “The same thing I do every day: just go out and play my game. Stay focused and fight hard and just get out there and compete.”
“She’s the No. 1 player in the world and I expect her to play really well.”
“I felt like every match I played against her I have played well. I mean, it’s always an honor to play No. 1 player in the world. Obviously someone of her stature who has won so many titles and the great player she is, I just have to just go out there and play my game and do all I can and just compete.”
Asked about her relationship with Williams, which was damaged when Stephens did a revealing interview with ESPN The Magazine, Stephens said: “She’s the No. 1 player in the world and she’s a competitor, and that’s it.
Asked if she had “mended fences with Williams,” – “No. She’s a competitor; she’s the No. 1 player in the world. She’s ‑‑ what do you call it? She’s a ‑‑you know, when you work with someone?
“A colleague. There you go. She’s a colleague.”
In an exchange with a reporter in the post-match news conference, Stephens discussed the hate she received on twitter from Serena Williams fans:
Every time I have mentioned you on Twitter, which I know you think is a lot…
SLOANE STEPHENS: It is a lot.
Anyway, any time I’ve mentioned you I have all these Serena fans immediately criticizing you out of nowhere.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, they hate me.
Why do you think that is?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don’t know, but they are the first people to get blocked on my Twitter. I am the queen of blocking. Okay? You say one bad thing, block. I ‑‑ block.
No. There is no room for negativity. I understand that they are die‑hard fans and I appreciate that. I’m sure she does, too. But some of the comments and some of the things are know so unnecessary.
It comes to the point where you’re on Twitter saying mean things about someone else. Like what do you actually doing with your life? Like is this your day job or how does that work? I’m just like ‑‑ I don’t understand it. But die‑hard fans are die‑hard fans, so…
Just taking some getting used to. It’s jarring. You get it more and more directly.
SLOANE STEPHENS: Yeah. I mean, some of the things are crazy and outrageous. Like I said, I have gotten really friendly with the block button. One bad thing, block. Block, block, block. So…
If you were to estimate, how many people have you blocked?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, God, it’s not even funny. It’s too many.
More than a thousand?
SLOANE STEPHENS: Oh, I don’t know. But I just don’t like negativity. And I think if you have something negative to say, think it. You don’t have to, you know, express it to me, at me, whatever you want to call it. It is what it is. Like I said, a die‑hard fan is a die‑hard fan.
Are you more protective of yourself on Twitter? You obviously, early on on Twitter, were much more expressive, and now it’s maybe a little more stringent.
SLOANE STEPHENS: I think Twitter has changed like since I started tweeting and it was fun. It’s definitely become ‑‑ it’s become a source for people to attack other people, and I am ‑‑ I’m not really into that. Like if I was a nobody, I wouldn’t attack a celebrity and say, Hey, you suck or whatever.
That’s not just me. I feel like a lot of that ‑‑ there is a lot of abuse like that, and I try to stay away from it. I only tweet positive things and retweet positive things and that’s all I can do from my end.
Any idea how this happens? Seems like you get the brunt of it worse than a lot of people?
SLOANE STEPHENS: I don’t know. I don’t really care. I don’t live my life for Twitter. I have a lot of other things going on. It’s okay that people don’t like me on Twitter. I will live.
Did you ever get to the point where you would just get off Twitter? What keeps you coming back when there is all this ‑‑ and I haven’t seen them. I’m just learning about them.
SLOANE STEPHENS: It’s fun. It’s something you can just express yourself and not really have to worry about what other people are saying. I think it’s a good tool. I mean, I love Twitter. I have always loved Twitter.
I’m not going to let people who say bad things or negative things about me scare me away from doing what I like to do. At the end of the day, people are saying something bad about me and negative, and they are not people I care about, they’re not in my life, they’re not people I love, so it doesn’t really matter to me.
In their career head-to-head record, Williams leads 2-1.