US Open 2021: Sloane Stephens reveals '2,000-plus' messages of abuse after loss

Sloane Stephens
Former world number three Sloane Stephens has long been one of the WTA Tour's leading players, having won the 2017 US Open and five other titles
US Open 2021
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

American player Sloane Stephens says she received more than 2,000 messages of abuse - including racist and sexist comments - after losing to Germany's Angelique Kerber in the US Open.

Stephens, who won the 2017 title in New York, posted examples of the abuse in an Instagram story on Saturday.

"I am human. It's so hard to read messages like these," she said.

"This type of hate is so exhausting and never ending. This isn't talked about enough, but it really sucks."

Stephens, 28, lost 5-7 6-2 6-3 to 2016 champion Kerber on Friday.

"After last night's match, I got 2,000-plus messages of abuse/anger from people upset by the results," added the former world number three, now ranked 66th.

The Women's Tennis Association - the governing body of the women's tour - said player safety is its "number one priority".

The WTA added it is "committed" to working with social media companies to ensure networks are "not a platform for harassment and/or the abuse of individuals".

"The WTA has been working for several years to educate and counsel players on this issue, as the number of players affected continues to increase and it's an important issue we take very seriously," it said.

Players receive "specialized evaluation, guidance, protection, resources, and support" if they suffer online abuse and harassment, added the WTA.

"[We] work with the social media platforms to shut down accounts when warranted, and if applicable, local authorities are notified," it said.

Campaigners - including the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, an international organisation which operates from the US and the UK - have called for permanent social media bans for anyone posting racist abuse.

In July, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with social media executives to discuss the online racism aimed at England footballers, as well as asking how their companies are tackling bullying.

Last month, Instagram announced new features designed to restrict abusive messages during "sudden spikes".

It attempts to stop abuse from large numbers of people "who simply pile on in the moment", the company said.

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