Top seed and defending U.S. Open women's champion Serena Williams, 31-year-old, today defeated 15th-seeded Sloane Stephens, 20-year-old, 6-4, 6-1, in the fourth round of the United States Open. Williams now heads to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows after putting on what some described as a tennis clinic against Stephens in the round of 16 on Sunday inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
According to the U.S. Open on Twitter, Williams was nearly flawless in her dominant straight-sets win.
Today’s game is their third installment of what appears to be the ‘settling of a score’ between the top two American women.
Last year, before they played each other, Williams and Stephens repeatedly discussed the closeness of their friendship, which developed when they played together on the United States Fed Cup team early in 2012.
At that time, Stephens said of Williams:
“Oh, my God, I love her to death; she’s amazing, now she’s like an actual person, and I’m like: ‘Oh, hi. How is it going?’ She’s not like a hero anymore. She’s just a friend.”
Their relation appeared to have changed after they faced off for the first time, in January. In a fiercely competitive match, Williams defeated Stephens, 6-4, 6-3, in Brisbane, Australia. In Brisbane, Australia, Stephens upset Williams, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
In an ESPN The Magazine story published in May, Stephens complained against Williams for icing her out after their match in Melbourne.
“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.
“Like, seriously. People should know,” Stephens continued. “They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”
Stephens later claimed that the conversation with a reporter was off the record. But a few weeks later another article came out, this one in TIME magazine, in which Stephens had another go at Williams, saying that the 16-time Grand Slam champion resorts to mind games to intimidate opponents.