"The rivalry began not on a tennis court but in my mind" - When Maria Sharapova was influenced by Williams sisters before even meeting them

Maria Sharapova spoke about how her rivalry with the Williams sisters began
Maria Sharapova spoke about how her rivalry with the Williams sisters began

Maria Sharapova competed on the WTA Tour at the same time that Venus Williams and Serena Williams dominated women's tennis. The Russian managed to challenge the two sisters on occasion and won five Grand Slams in her career, including one where she defeated the younger Williams in the final.

Maria Sharapova wrote about her rivalry with the Williams sisters in her book "Unstoppable." She stated that an article about the legendary duo training at Rick Macci's tennis academy encouraged her father to move to the United States.

"Steffi Graf was still around. Lindsay Davenport. Monica Seles. But they were older, on their way out. Among the new generation, there were just two names: Venus and Serena, the Williams sisters," Sharapova said.
"Of course, I’d heard of them before. It was in part that article about the sisters, and how they were training at Rick Macci’s Tennis Academy, that convinced my father we had to make our way to America in the first place," she added.

Sharapova also claimed that at first she didn't think much about Venus Williams and Serena Williams but that the more she heard about them, the more she was determined not to be "beaten down." The Russian further admitted that constantly hearing about the legendary duo was where her rivalry with them started, before she had ever set her eyes on them on the tennis court.

"But I had not thought about them since. I’d been living my own life. Now suddenly they were everywhere. Teenagers—only one year apart—but already the best in the world. They’d won tournaments, been crowned all around the world. They were big girls, and they hit with unbelievable power. That’s what people told me. They would dominate the game for years," Sharapova said.
"The more I heard about them, the more determined I became not to be beaten down, or submit. That’s when the rivalry began for me. Not on a tennis court, or at some banquet, but right there, in my mind, before I’d even seen the Williams sisters," she added.

Serena Williams leads 20-2 in the head-to-head against Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova after their final meeting at the 2019 US Open
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova after their final meeting at the 2019 US Open

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams locked horns on 22 occasions, with the latter leading the head-to-head 20-2.

The first meeting between the two came at the 2004 Miami Open, with Williams winning 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova then beat the American 6-1, 6-4 in that year's Wimbledon final, winning her maiden Grand Slam singles title at the age of 17.

The Russian also won the third encounter between the two, which came in the final of the 2004 WTA Tour Championships. This was Sharapova's last victory against Williams, as the latter went on to win the next 19 matches.

The two locked horns in four Grand Slam finals overall, with Serena Williams winning three of them. They also faced each other in the gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics, where the American won 6-0, 6-1.

The last meeting between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova came in the first round of the 2019 US Open, with the former winning 6-1, 6-1.

The Russian had a much better head-to-head record against Venus Williams, winning five out of eight matches between the two.

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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