Serena Williams' former coach Rick Macci is of the opinion that the American's rivalry with Maria Sharapova was more like a catfight than a proper rivalry.
Williams and Sharapova locked horns on 22 occasions, with the former leading the head-to-head 20-2. The two forged a rivalry that, while being one-sided on the court, was very popular.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Rick Macci, who coached both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, claimed that the Russian and her father Yuri had their sights set on the Williams sisters when they came to his academy.
He also acknowledged the one-sided nature of their rivalry, terming it a "catfight" and wondering if the duo didn't like each other for personal reasons.
"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.
"Whenever Serena Williams played her, it was a bad matchup for Maria Sharapova" - Rick Macci
Rick Macci added that a clash against Serena Williams was a bad matchup for Maria Sharapova. He believes the Russian would not be able to control the points against her as she did with most players, thus forcing her to play defensively.
"Whenever Serena played her, it was a bad matchup for Sharapova because Serena knew she had to be aggressive, she had to bring the confident streetfight. She had to bring the firepower because Maria would control the points against 95% people on the tour but against Serena, she couldn't and then Maria had to play more defense, and that was a bad matchup," Macci said.
"Plus Serena had a serve that could pull out of a jam. So that became a rivalry not because it was competitive. Maybe they just didn't like each other that much on the pro tour for whatever reason. So, that was kind of interesting," he added.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have both retired from tennis now, with the latter calling it a day after the 2020 Australian Open. Williams, meanwhile, announced her retirement from the sport last year, with the US Open being her final tournament. She made it to the third round before losing to eventual quarterfinalist Ajla Tomljanovic.