While press conferences aren’t mandatory for all sports, where often in professional team sports you’ll just see the coaches or primary players speaking, but in the Grand Slam tour of tennis, speaking at a press conference is mandatory.
On the Roland Garros French Open tour, American Sloane Stephens, ranked 40th in the Women’s Tennis Association, beat fellow American and 15th ranked Venus Williams 7-6 (5), 6-1 in first-round play.
The story has caused some controversy after Williams decided to skip her mandatory press conference, which will result in a fine for the 34-year-old tennis star.
According to a USA Today article, her fine could be as high as $10,000, however International Tennis Federation records suggest that past players who have skipped news conferences at Grand Slams often face fines between $2,000 and $5,000.
This just feels unsportsmanlike coming from a respected player of the game like the elder Williams sister, but after losing in the first round two out of three French Open bouts in a row, you can’t expect someone to be in the brightest of moods.
According to a USA Today article more specifically about the press conference, she is 2-4 at the French Open since 2010, and has not surpassed the fourth round since 2007, which is surely disappointing for the former No. 1 player.
According to a different USA Today article more focused on the match itself, Venus Williams released a statement, so at least she didn’t leave the press without anything to chew on.
“I feel like I had some good practices coming into Roland Garros,” Williams said in a tournament-provided statement, according to USA Today. “But sometimes things don’t always work out the way you would like.”
Venus has largely just brought more negative attention to her on top of the loss.
After their first meeting, at least the 22-year-old Stephens can say she has a perfect record against one of tennis’ Top 20 players. According to a Washington Post article, she is now 2-11 in Grand Slam games versus Top 20 players, and the only other player she beat in a Grand Slam was actually the other Williams sister, Serena, the top-ranked female player in tennis, at 2013’s Australian Open quarterfinals (Serena’s rank was then No. 3).
Also according to the Washington Post article, she is the first American player to complete the feat of defeating both of the Williams sisters in Grand Slam tournaments since Lindsey Davenport did so in 2000.
Stephens will go onto play Great Britain’s Heather Watson, 23, in the second round. The 45th-seeded Watson has a 4-0 record against Stephens. Watson has a 12-9 record so far this year, and Stephens has a 14-10 record, according to the WTA website.