Several ATP and WTA stars were in attendance at the 2021 Met Gala, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York on September 13. But it was a trio of former women's No. 1 players - Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova - who turned heads with their photographs together.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova share one of the most well-known (if lopsided) rivalries in the history of the women's game. Perhaps more significantly though, their on-court rivalry seems to have spilled on to their personal lives too. There have been numerous reports over the years about how the two superstars don't see eye to eye with each other off the court.
But at the Met Gala on Tuesday, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova sent shockwaves among the tennis community by sharing a light moment in front of the cameras.
Fans of both icons were quick to react to the photograph, with many even asking for a "backstory". In that context, Serena's sister and fellow legend Venus Williams took to Twitter to respond to one such question.
In a video posted on the platform, the seven-time Grand Slam winner said that she and Serena were recently talking about how they were missing Sharapova on the tour. Venus further claimed they were "so happy" to see their former on-court rival at the Gala.
The 41-year-old revealed that she and Serena had met Sharapova at the Gala separately and that they both told her about their aforementioned discussion on "missing her" on the tour. Subsequently, the three got together to pose for the now famous photograph.
"Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before [the Gala], we were walking and were like, man, we wish Maria was still playing," Venus Williams said in a video posted on Twitter. "And we saw [Maria] and we told her separately, like, 'we were both talking about you and we wish you were still on tour'."
Venus then went on to state that she and Serena Williams had a fun conversation with Maria Sharapova, in which there were "hugs", "laughter" and "stories".
"We were so happy to see each other, and they were hugs, there was laughing, there were stories and there was the photo," Venus added.
"We've already asked you make a comeback, so come and do it" - Venus Williams to Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova shared an intense rivalry which was completely dominated by the American, who led the head-to-head 20-2. Venus and Sharapova by contrast were considerably less competitive, with the Russian leading that head-to-head 5-3.
According to Venus Williams, the "backstory" to the picture of the three is that despite being fierce competitors on court, the players still respected each other.
The American ended the video with a brief message addressed to Maria Sharapova, encouraging her [and another fellow world no. 1 player Caroline Wozniacki] to make a comeback to the WTA tour.
"So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard on the court for years, we still respect and love each other," Venus continued. "We love Maria, and if you do want to come back Maria, we've asked you to, come and do it! Goes for you too Caroline."
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