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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday September 4, 2021

The mental health of athletes has been at the forefront of the sporting experience this year. Naomi Osaka’s struggles have given the public a glimpse into issues that have always been there. Today, Sloane Stephens made it a point to show the world what type of abuse tennis players face after losses, thanks to the wild west known as social media.

Tennis Express

Stephens’ story is a common cautionary tale in the tennis world. The sport reaps what it sows by supporting gambling more than it ever has in 2021 (the WTA just inked a new deal with a gambling house and the ATP has loosened restrictions, all in an attempt to make up for a revenue dearth brought about by the pandemic). Gambling is great from a revenue perspective, but from a mental health perspective it can be horrific for the athletes who are targets of abuse from disgruntled gamblers, and have been for a long, long time.

“I am human,” Stephens posted on her Instagram stories. “After last night’s match I got 2k+ messages of abuse/ anger from people upset by yesterday’s result. It's so hard to read messages like these, but I’ll post a few so you guys can see what it’s like after a loss.”

(Warning: the comments are not for children, and are disturbing).

How can this not affect a person in a negative way? And how can the sport, collectively, band together to ensure that it stops? Is it a societal problem? Is there a solution? Or is it simply to be treated like spam – completely ignored?

Stephens, who has been through a difficult period of loss in 2021, ended her stories on a positive note.

"I'm choosing positive vibes over negative ones," Stephens wrote. "I choose to show you guys happiness on here but it's not always smiles and roses."

It would be nice if others on social media could follow Stephen’s example. There’s no place in our society for what Stephens’ shined a light on today, and the fact that it happens every day, to every player, makes it even worse.