Maria Sharapova recently revealed that she was one of the many people who encouraged Serena Williams to make one final comeback after her injury troubles last year, pointing to the level of competition that awaited her when she returned to the tennis court.
After a hamstring injury at Wimbledon last year, the 23-time Grand Slam champion stayed on the sidelines for an entire year before returning to action at the same tournament in 2022. But Williams also shocked the world by announcing her retirement soon after, finally hanging up her racquet after a valiant third-round exit at the US Open in front of her home fans.
Speaking to ESPN today, where she was invited to commentate on the semifinal clash between Caroline Garcia and Ons Jabeur at Flushing Meadows, Sharapova declared that she was glad to see the American make one final push before retiring this year.
She further disclosed that when the pair met at the Met Gala last year, she encouraged the former World No. 1 to do so, telling her that she was so much better than the current generation and that she owed it to herself to test her mettle against them at least once.
"We spoke about it at the net last year during this time of year and I said no disrespect to this generation but you are so much better and you need to go out there, so I’m glad that she had a chance here,” Sharapova said.
The five-time Grand Slam champion went on to add that it was "amazing" to see the glory and tenacity Serena Williams has always encompassed even during the final stretch of her career, going out in a blaze of glory despite being significantly older than the rest of the competition.
“It was amazing to see Serena’s run and the glory and the gracious tenacity as she carried through to the end of her career," Sharapova said.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova had one of the most one-sided rivalries in women's tennis
While Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are thick friends at the moment, their time on the tennis court was not as friendly after all. The duo met a whopping 22 times on the WTA Tour, with Williams triumphing on 20 occasions.
Of Sharapova's two wins, one came in the final of the 2004 Wimbledon, their second ever meeting. Their next match was in the final of the Year-end Championships that year, which was won by the Russian as well. Williams then went on a 19-match win-streak against the former World No. 1, beating her in eight Grand Slams along the way.
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