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"Maria probably had the most respect for Serena Williams over any player" - Sharapova's former coach Michael Joyce reflects on the rivalry

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova faced each other 22 times.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova faced each other 22 times.
Parag Jain

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are two of the biggest names in the tennis world. The five-time Grand Slam winner from Russia, who turned professional in 2001, retired in early 2020. However, the 23-time Grand Slam champion from America, who turned pro in 1995, is still competing at the highest level.

The two players squared off against each other 22 times in their careers. While Sharapova was ahead 2-1 in the head-to-head after their first three encounters in 2004, she lost the next 19 matches against the American icon, their last meeting coming at the 2019 US Open. Williams leads the head-to-head record at 20-2.

In Grand Slam events, the 40-year-old won eight out of nine matches against the Russian. Sharapova, 35, won her first Major by beating Williams in the title clash at the Wimbledon 2004.

Serena Williams defeats Maria Sharapova for the 19th time consecutively .... Bec Serena is Black, Western Media stills calls it “sporting rivalry” ... With 19th consecutive losses, Maria isn’t & can’t be a rival ... Maria ought to accept that she will never beat Serena. https://t.co/7HBZRfeoiF

Former American tennis player Michael Joyce hung up his racquet in 2003 and coached Sharapova from 2004 to 2011. Three out of her five Grand Slam titles came during Joyce's tenure, who also led her to the World No. 1 ranking for the first time in 2005.

Speaking on the Tennis Channel recently, 49-year-old Joyce commented on the rivalry between the two top players. He stated that although Sharapova never said it, he thought she respected Williams more than any other player.

"I think ultimately, Maria probably had the most respect for Serena over any player. I'm just saying this based on what I think. She never said it, but I just feel like Maria always felt that no matter who she was playing, she always had a shot. Sloane Stephens might be beating her, but Maria always felt like if she hung in there and if she was tough, she could turn it around."
"But there was a point with Serena where it was just like Serena's bringing her A game. I think Maria was pretty predictable in some ways about how she was playing and Serena went through that period for three to four years where she just blew her away," Joyce said.

Serena Williams to kick off North American tour in Toronto

Serena Williams to play three events.
Serena Williams to play three events.

Serena Williams returned to the tour at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships after being sidelined with an injury for a year. Although she lost to Harmony Tan of France in the opening round, the American legend vowed to prepare better for the US Open swing.

Last time Serena Williams played two WTA US Series tournaments before the US Open: 2015. twitter.com/BenRothenberg/…

The six-time US Open champion is gearing up for the National Bank Open, also known as the Canadian Open. The WTA 1000 event will be held from August 8-14 in Toronto. Her next tournament will be the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, scheduled for August 15-21. The US Open is set to commence on August 29, where Williams will be eyeing her 24th Grand Slam title.


Edited by Keshav Gopalan

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