Tennis star Sloane Stephens on online abuse: 'This type of hate is so exhausting'
U.S. tennis player Sloane Stephens on Saturday shared screenshots on Instagram of hateful messages she received in the hours after exiting the US Open, writing that the online abuse was "so exhausting and never ending."
On Friday, the 28-year-old athlete suffered a third-round loss to German Angelique Kerber, ending her run at the major tournament in New York City.
Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, received a flurry of negative messages following the loss.
"I am human, after last night's match I got 2K + messages of abuse/anger from people upset by yesterday's result. 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," she wrote on her Instagram story, according to CNN.
"I promise to find you and destroy your leg so hard that you can't walk anymore @sloanestephens!" one message reportedly read.
Some of the messages and comments she shared were racist in nature, including ones that contained the monkey emoji, NBC News reported.
"This type of hate is so exhausting and never ending," Stephens wrote on her Instagram story. "This isn't talked about enough but it really freaking sucks."
Stephens said she received an outpouring of love after sharing the hurtful messages.
"I'm happy to have people in my corner who support me. I'm choosing positive vibes over negative ones. I choose to show you guys happiness on here but it's not always smiles and roses," she wrote.
Stephens is the latest Black female athlete to be subjected to negative scrutiny over her performance. Notably, Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles faced backlash during the Olympics last month after pulling herself out of certain events during the games to prioritize her mental health.
The gymnast was criticized by some, including Texas deputy attorney general Aaron Reit, who dubbed her "selfish" and "childish." He later apologized for his remarks.
Naomi Osaka, a top-ranked women's tennis player who is Haitian and Japanese, said she faced a racist backlash when she decided to represent Japan in the Tokyo Olympics, rather than the U.S., where she spent most of her life.
Following an early round exit in this year's U.S. Open, Osaka said she isn't sure when she would play a professional match again.
"I feel like for me recently, like, when I win, I don't feel happy," Osaka said. "I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal."