Rising American tennis star Sloane Stephens denied that she was cheering for Serena Williams' defeat on Sunday when the No.1-ranked women's player fell in the Australian Open this weekend.
The relationship between Williams and Stephens, which has been strained since Stephens beat Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals last year, seemed to take a negative turn. Stephens was filmed smiling and joking with hitting partner Andrew Fitzpatrick while watching Williams fall to Ana Ivanovic, according to the AFP.
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Ivanovic beat Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the first grand slam tournament of 2014.
Stephens told AFP that she and Fitzpatrick were merely mimicking the enthusiastic reactions of Ivanovic's coaches, not making fun of Williams.
"At the end of the match, Ivanovic's coaches pretty much gave each other head-butts and kisses, and I thought that was the funniest thing ever because I have never seen a more excited head-butt/kiss at the end of the match," Stephens said.
"Then of course in posts and everything and edit and of course I'm cheering against Serena, which had nothing to do with it. So that was it. We were just having some fun," Stephens added.
Stephens has complained about Williams ignoring her at tournaments ever since the young tennis star was victorious over the 32-year-old, 17-time Grand Slam winner. Stephens said Williams even unfollowed her on Twitter.
In this year's tournament, Stephens fell in the fourth round to No. 2 ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-2, making her the last American on the women's side of the bracket to be eliminated, according to the Associated Press.
While Stephens doesn't have a career title under her belt so far, 2013 was a breakout year for the rising star. She reached the semifinals of the Australian Open last year, the fourth round of the French Open, and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
The loss could be bad news for Williams's opponents. After Williams exited the Australian Open early last year, she went on to dominate the rest of season, winning 77 of her next 80 matches for the rest of 2013, including French Open and U.S. Open titles. The impressive record landed her in the No. 1 spot.
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