Sloane Stephens Smart to Clear the Air with Serena Williams

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 8, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 23:  Sloane Stephens of the United States plays a forehand in her Quarterfinal match against Serena Williams of the United States during day ten of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Emerging American tennis star Sloane Stephens can't take back her comments about 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, but she should be commended for her effort to clear the air between the two.

According to Stephens' Twitter account on Tuesday, she has spoken with Williams, patched things up and apparently learned from her mistake.

While the two female tennis stars may understand each other a little bit better following all of the drama brought about by Stephens' recent comments in an ESPN The Magazine article, don't expect Serena to erase the bulletin-board material her newest rival has provided for her.

If there's one thing that's become obvious about Serena over the years, it's that she is a relentless competitor on the tennis court and hardly the game's most gracious player in defeat.

That's not a criticism of Serena. After all, you don't get to be the world's No. 1 female tennis player by looking to make friends on the court. It's a trait that has made her one of the game's greats, and one that Stephens now understands a lot better.

Her comments regarding Williams, while perhaps unfair, were real, and she was right to waste no time accepting the blame and making peace. 

Still, Stephens accepting responsibility for the drama and ending it isn't going to change how Williams approaches her on the tennis court.

While the 20-year-old Stephens is the future of American tennis, the road to the top of the women's game still goes through the 31-year-old Williams, who has won two of the past three Grand Slam events.

Stephens smoothing things over with Williams is smart considering it will aide her reputation among tennis fans and the public. It's another attempt by Stephens to take the high road in this young rivalry (albeit a little too late in this case).

But if you think Williams has forgotten the comments or won't be revisiting them in her mind the next time she takes the court against Stephens, you don't know Serena.

The five-time Wimbledon champion is a fiery player who rarely reacts well to losing. 

Stephens was already in store for an epic rematch with Williams after beating her in three sets in the quarterfinals at the 2013 Australian Open last January, but now she'll be facing a motivated, angry world No. 1 on top of it all.

Clearing the air with Serena was the smartest move Sloane Stephens could make in the wake of her controversial comments being made public, but don't expect her apology to take one bit of intensity away from this emerging rivalry.


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