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Rising US star Sloane Stephens has slammed Serena Williams, describing her Fed Cup teammate as a sore loser and saying she snubbed Stephens on Twitter after losing to her at the Aussie Open in January.
In excerpts from an interview with ESPN Magazine, Stephens said Williams has not spoken to her since the 20-year-old beat 15-time major winner in the first Grand Slam of the year.
"People should know," Stephens said. "They think she's so friendly and she's so this and she's so that -- no, that's not reality."
In the interview conducted last month, Stephens said she now gets the silent treatment from Williams in the locker room and through social media since their last WTA Tour match. The two were teammates at a Fed Cup tie two weeks ago in Florida.
"She's not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia," Stephens told ESPN. "And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.
"You don't unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?"
Stephens said two days following their quarter-final match in Australia, Williams posted a backhanded tweet on her social networking page.
"I made you," Williams wrote.
Said Stephens, "You really don't think I know that's about me."
Stephens also told a story of the time when she was 12 and watched Serena and her sister Venus play for the first time at a Fed Cup tie. She said she was left with a bad impression of the two after they ignored autograph requests.
"I waited all day (for an autograph)," she said in the May 13th edition of the magazine. "They walked by three times and never signed our posters."
The Williams sisters and Stephens are three of just a few African Americans playing on the WTA Tour. Contrary to popular belief, Stephens said Williams was never her favourite player and certainly not a mentor as she has been portrayed.
The Williams sisters grew up in crime-plagued, drug-ridden Compton, California before moving to Florida, while Stephens is from Plantation, Florida.
"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. Are any of those things true at this moment? No."