Rise of Social Media Abuse Puts Extra Stress on Professional Tennis Athletes

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Social media are a phenomenon of our society that has made it easier than ever to connect with people, share memories and experiences. However, social media outlets are also a platform for ill-intended people to voice their negativity for all their good sides. Elite sports athletes get the worst of it as every loss they get results in a social media barrage of disgruntlement that often comes from people who have money hinging on their win, and sometimes – loss.

Dealing with the Constant Abuse

Shelby Rogers, a professional American tennis player, said that dealing with abuse on social media is a whole battle on its own. After losing against her British competitor Emma Raducanu, Rogers shared that she is expecting to continue the struggle online as disgruntled fans shun her for the defeat. Like that wasn’t enough, the tennis professional revealed that death threats are a common thing. 

Rogers said this has become so common that it has started to lose meaning.  “At this point in my career, I’d say I’m used to it,” she said. 

The athlete added that if one were to check up her social media profile, they would find a never-ending list of abusive messages.  “I’m probably a fat pig and words that I can’t say right now,” Rogers dismissively said. 

While Rogers may be able to shake it off, that doesn’t make such threats any more tolerable as no one ever should have to deal with that. 

Another American tennis player, Sloane Stephens, confirmed the rise of social media abuse. According to her, she received tons of racist and sexist messages after she got defeated by German opponent Angelique Kerber. Stephens’ skin color was the object of many of the hateful slurs.

The professional said that it is hard to read such messages and sometimes can be really exhausting and disheartening. 

The WTA is Seeking a Long-Term Solution

Many of those foul messages possibly come from severe gambling addicts who are angry that they lost their bet. And while the sentiment of disappointment may be understandable, the follow-up indecent insults definitely aren’t. 

According to a discussion with Reuters, the Women’s Tennis Association Tour is currently working together with social media outlets in order to devise a long-term solution. And while completely shutting down all negativity definitely isn’t possible, toning it down is. 

Risk assessment and management company Theseus will also lend a hand in the efforts of ensuring a safe and healthy environment for tennis pros. 

“Working with Theseus allows the WTA and the players to take the most appropriate action while enabling WTA players to safely keep their social media accounts and use them to communicate and share exciting highlights, stories, and news to their fans,” the women’s association said. 

While shutting down one’s social media account or at least restricting it to friends-only may seem like the most surefire solution, it definitely isn’t a good solution. Social media accounts nowadays are not only a way for a professional to reach fans but also a crucial way to maintain engagement and spread a professional athlete’s image.  

“You try not to take it to heart, and it’s the unfortunate side of any sport,” Rogers added. 

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