Serena Williams outgrew the Maria Sharapova ‘rivalry’ earlier than it even started

It’s all the time a giant deal when Serena Williams takes the court docket at a Grand Slam, particularly as she chases down her twenty fourth title. She additionally performs fewer tournaments outdoors of the Slams today, so any likelihood to see her is a deal with, even when the match comes with out context. That stated, there was loads of context going into her US Open first-round match in opposition to Maria Sharapova.

However it’s not as a result of that could be a notably thrilling rivalry. Actually, it’s probably not a rivalry in any respect. When Williams first confronted Sharapova, there was potential, however nothing materialized as a result of Sharapova, by and huge, couldn’t beat Williams.

With Monday’s dominant victory over Sharapova (a 6-1, 6-1 win that was over in underneath an hour), Williams is now 20-2 in opposition to Sharapova, with a 3rd “loss” coming final 12 months when Williams needed to bow out of their Spherical of 16 matchup at Roland Garros earlier than it acquired underway.

Who fuels who?

There’s little to really substantiate a rivalry on the court docket, however off of it, there’s even much less. It is smart to be enthusiastic about seeing two nice tennis gamers face off — however there isn’t something deep or intimate about this rivalry, if it may possibly certainly be known as that.

When Williams was beat by a 17-year-old Sharapova of their second-ever match, again within the 2004 Wimbledon last, there was speak that the American was crying and livid over shedding, and that Sharapova witnessed it within the locker room. Sharapova later revealed in her 2017 autobiography that Williams allegedly advised a pal “I’ll by no means lose to that little b**** once more,” following the defeat.

Williams would go on to lose to Sharapova once more later that 12 months, however then received 18 consecutive matches, together with seven finals, in opposition to her.

It’s apparent that Williams, an emotional participant, is as pushed as any and would use any loss to gasoline her want to get again within the win column. However in Sharapova’s 2017 autobiography, she talks about her and Williams fueling one another’s careers and whereas that sounds good, there actually isn’t so much to point it was really a two-way road.

Williams has stated little about Sharapova’s anecdotes from her guide, calling them rumour and noting that she’s cried after lots of her losses. Sharapova appears to have used Williams to encourage herself a lot, however I’m not seeing it from Williams.

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Rivalries want a give-and-take

With out something to level to the 2 being large enemies outdoors of tennis, we’re left with what’s on the court docket. And what’s on the court docket isn’t fairly for Sharapova.

Going into Monday’s match, Williams held a 19-2 mark in opposition to Sharapova, beating her on all surfaces and often in straight units. Throughout her stretch of 18 consecutive wins over Sharapova, Williams solely dropped three (!) units. Williams received in straight units as lately because the quarterfinals of the 2016 Australian Open.

Evaluating their careers provides Sharapova some cache as a result of she’s been a lot profitable, however they nonetheless aren’t shut. Sharapova was the primary Russian girl to be ranked first general in singles competitors, and the one Russian girl to personal a profession Grand Slam. She’s received the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open as soon as every, and the French Open twice, along with her final win coming in 2014.

5 titles is actually an accomplishment, however they’re additionally tainted by a failed drug check in 2016 that resulted in a prolonged suspension and turned away numerous her followers. Her accomplishments may even all the time reside in Williams’ shadow.

Williams has received 23 Grand Slam singles titles, essentially the most of any participant within the Open Period and second all-time behind Margaret Courtroom. Williams is preventing for No. 24 proper now, although she is already extensively thought-about to be the best girls’s participant (and on this author’s opinion, the best interval) of all time.



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