Stephens plays down Serena 'celebration'

MICHAEL CHAMMAS
Last updated 11:03 21/01/2014
Fairfax Australia

Sloane Stephens is forced to deny claims she celebrated fellow American Serena Williams' loss and says that her reaction, shown on TV, was her imitation of the ecstatic Ana Ivanovic camp.

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American Sloane Stephens described a television channel's decision to film her reaction to Serena Williams' shock loss as ''a little much'' and insists she wasn't celebrating her compatriot's early exit from the Australian Open.

Footage of Stephens' reaction to Williams upset loss at the hands of Ana Ivanovic on Sunday afternoon was later shown during Channel Seven's coverage of the Open, frustrating Stephens, who has been forced to defend speculation that she was rejoicing in Williams' anguish.

Fairfax Media believes angered Women's Tennis Association officials held a lengthy meeting with Channel Seven officials on Monday to discuss the decision to air the vision.

During the coverage Channel Seven said the vision of Stephens - who had a big smile on her face - was the American's impersonation of Ivanovic's support crew, but it did little to prevent the incident from adding fuel to the fire of what is a tense relationship.

After her straight-sets loss to reigning champion Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round on Monday, Stephens criticised Channel Seven for filming her while she was watching the Williams-Ivanovic match on a television in the gym.

''Yeah, it's a little much,'' Stephens said. ''Then for them to put it on TV was a little extra.''

It comes at a time where debate over what should remain private in sport has been questioned after Channel Nine was criticised and later apologised to Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke for airing his verbal tirade at England's James Anderson in Brisbane.

Clarke was later fined for telling Anderson to ''get ready for a broken f---ing arm'', which was picked up by the stump microphone.

However, Channel Seven spokesperson Greg Smith said the host broadcasters did not break any rules by filming Stephens.

''My understanding is that the camera was in a public area so we were allowed to be there and we were able to get the shot,'' Smith said. ''We were in an area that we were allowed to be in.''

The two Americans have not seen eye to eye since Stephens knocked Williams out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals last year, with Stephens later taking aim at the world No 1 for unfollowing her on Twitter. Stephens also accused Williams of ignoring her after she defeated the champion.

But Stephens is adamant the vision captured was her mimicking the emotional reaction of Ivanovic's support crew at her victory.

''At the end of the match, Ivanovic's coaches pretty much gave each other headbutts and kisses, and I thought that was the funniest thing ever because I have never seen a more excited headbutt/kiss at the end of the match,'' Stephens said.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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