American Sloane Stephens has described Channel Seven's decision to film her reaction to Serena Williams' shock loss as ''a little much'' and insists that she was not 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 since been forced to defend speculation she was rejoicing in Williams' agony. Fairfax Media understands angered WTA officials held a lengthy meeting with Seven officials on Monday to discuss the decision to air the footage.
Seven said the vision of Stephens - who had a massive 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 their tense relationship.
After her straight-sets loss to reigning champion Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round on Monday, Stephens criticised Seven for filming her while she was watching Williams' match on a gym TV.
''Yeah, it's a little much,'' Stephens said. ''Then for them to put it on TV was a little extra.''
Seven spokesman Greg Smith said the broadcaster 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,'' he said.
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 the win. But Stephens is adamant the footage captured was her mimicking the emotional reaction of Ivanovic's support crew after 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,'' she said. ''Andrew [hitting partner Andrew Fitzpatrick] and I were like, 'Oh my God, we, we're going to do the same thing'.
''Then, of course, in posts and everything … I'm cheering against Serena, which had nothing to do with it. So that was it. We were just having some fun.''
The story Sloane Stephens reaction to Serena Williams loss to further strain relationship first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.