Serena Williams denies personal animosity in 'beef' with Maria Sharapova: "It was just competitive... we both wanted to win"

Serena Williams (L) and Maria Sharapova (R)
Serena Williams (L) and Maria Sharapova (R)

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova shared a notoriously contentious rivalry both on and off the court, often exchanging barbs in public. However, Williams recently denied any personal animosity between them.

The duo's rivalry got off to a contentious start when a 17-year-old Sharapova defeated the two-time defending champion American 6-1, 6-4 in the 2004 Wimbledon final, their second meeting on tour.

In her autobiography 'Unstoppable: My Life So Far,' the Russian expressed her belief that Williams "hated" her for pulling off the shock upset at the grasscourt Major.

"I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon," she wrote.

Although Serena Williams went on to triumph in 19 of their subsequent 20 encounters, their rivalry remained tense, with the duo frequently taking digs at each other publicly. The jabs occasionally turned personal, as the American once hit out at Sharapova's "boring" personality, prompting a heated response from the Russian.

However, the 23-time Grand Slam champion recently clarified that the "beef" between her and Maria Sharapova wasn't driven by personal animosity but rather by their fierce competitiveness and desire to win.

"Not anymore. I mean, was there ever beef? I guess. It was just competitive. She was winning. I was winning, you know, we both wanted to win, and I don't think it was personal. It was just, 'Do you want to win?'" Serena Williams said while unveiling 'The Serena Collection' of trading cards.

Watch the interaction here (at 4:40):


"Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova's rivalry was more like a catfight" - Former coach Rick Macci

Serena Williams (L) and Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams (L) and Maria Sharapova

Although Serena Williams has dismissed the presence of any personal grudges in her rivalry with Maria Sharapova, their former coach Rick Macci previously expressed a different perspective on the matter.

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda last year, Macci highlighted the lopsided nature of their rivalry in the 23-time Grand Slam champion's favor, suggesting that it was more of a "catfight" due to their apparent mutual dislike.

"Maria Sharapova, you know, talk about her rivalry with Serena, and yea you're right. A rivalry should be a back and forth thing, and I know it was 20-2 with Serena leading the way," Rick Macci said.
"I think Maria, when she came to me at 11, her and Yuri, they had their sights on Venus and Serena, and they talked about it, we talked about it a lot, that was always her goal. But listen, at the end of the day it was a rivalry simply because maybe it was more like a catfight. Who knows, maybe they didn't like each other for other reasons," he added.

Both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have left their contentious rivalry in the past after retirement, often reuniting amiably at various fashion events. They were recently spotted enjoying each other's company at the 2024 Met Gala.

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