From "she hated me" to "most intimidating," Maria Sharapova's quotes on Serena Williams over the years

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova

There are some notable similarities between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Both are former World No.1 players on the WTA tour who have completed a career Slam in singles and have championed the year-ending championships.

Sharapova has won five Grand Slams in her career, whereas Williams is only one Slam away from equalling Margaret Court's record of 24 Majors.

Although the two have enjoyed immense success on tour, they have had a rivalry of ebbs and flows off the court. The two met for the first time in Round of 16 at the 2004 Miami Masters, an event that Williams eventually won. However, their real story began when Sharapova, then 17 years old became the third youngest player in the history of Wimbledon to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish after defeating Williams in straight sets in the final.

The same year, Sharapova won her only year-ending championship title after coming back from a set down against Williams in the final.

Ever since then, Williams has dominated their rivalry, winning their next 19 encounters, three of which were Slam finals. Sharapova retired in 2020, while Serena is still active on the circuit at the age of 40.

The duo's icy off-court battle was put to rest at the Met Gala 2021 when the Williams sisters clicked a picture with Sharapova. The picture took the fans by surprise. Later, Venus Williams explained the story behind that photo.

"First of all Serena and I were talking about her the day before. We wish she was still playing. And we saw her and we both told her separately we wish you were still on tour. Even though players compete hard on the court for years we still love and respect each other. There was hugs there was laughing there were stories, and there was a photo," she said.

Having said that, let's take a look at the Russian's quotes on Serena over the years.

#1. "Hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her"

Sharapova published her autobiography, "Unstoppable: My life so far" in 2017 and revealed interesting stories about what happened after her 2004 Wimbledon final against Williams.

"What I heard when I came into the locker room was Serena Williams bawling. Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there. I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment. But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She's never forgiven me for it," she wrote.

#2. "Thick arms and thick legs"

Another quote from the Russian's autobiography read:

"First of all, her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. And tall, really tall.”

The comments were soon tagged as racist by the readers. But on the talk show "The View," Sharapova clarified that being 17 years old at that time, she felt she "did not belong in a Slam final" and that the mere presence of Serena was towering for her.

#3. "I heard that Serena told..."

Another staggering revelation in Sharapova's book read:

"Not long after the tournament (2004 Wimbledon final), I heard that Serena told a friend — who then told me — ‘I will never lose to that little bitch again."

#4. "If I were built like Serena..."

The duo contested the 2013 French Open final, where Serena won 6-4, 6-4 to complete her second career Grand Slam. In an interview with, Sharapova said:

"I think if I were built like Serena, I hope I'd be able to hit a big serve like that too."

#5. "She could tell us this and not things that don't concern her"

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Serena Williams said:

"Maria starts every interview with: I'm happy or I'm lucky. It's a bore! She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."

When asked about her reply to the same, Sharapova said the following in her 2013 Wimbledon press conference:

"I have a great deal of respect for Serena and for what she managed to win. However, I think she should talk about her successes, rather than the whole rest. If she wants to talk about something personal she could tell us about the relationship with a man who once divorced and who now also has a daughter. She could tell us this and not things that don't concern her."

#6. "I think if there’s someone who can break records it’s her"

The verbal war seemed to cool down as the years went by. After announcing her retirement in 2020, in an interview with The New York Times' Christopher Clarey, Sharapova said:

"I think everybody has very different things going on in their life, and I think for women there’s also the conversation of family, which is obviously a big part of Serena’s comeback after stepping away from the game for a little bit of time. But I think if there’s someone who can break records it’s her, and I have no doubt that she can.”

#7. "Serena would definitely be somewhere on top of that GOAT list"

In a 2021 Tennis World USA article, Sharapova said the following about Williams' accolades:

"Well, I do think Serena would definitely be somewhere on top of that GOAT list when we consider every sport, no doubt. Her achievements are incredible. She's won over 20 Majors and still competes for more."

#8. "Maybe we'll become friends"

In her autobiography, Sharapova wrote what could be a beautiful epilogue to her tennis rivalry with Williams:

“I think, to some extent, we have driven each other. Maybe that’s better than being friends. Maybe that’s what it takes to fire up the proper fury. Only when you have that intense antagonism can you find the strength to finish her off. But who knows? Someday, when all this is in our past, maybe we’ll become friends.”

#9. "Most consistent competitor"

In a podcast interview with David Schulman on Never Stand Still, Sharapova said the following while discussing her opponents:

"Serena Williams was by far the most intimidating opponent for me. When I was young, I lost to Monica Seles 6–0, 6–1, and I really thought I had a good game. I came off the court bawling, I don't know if I was 16 or 17, and told my dad, who was my coach at the time, that I really thought I played well. I completely collapsed (laughs). But yeah, Serena was definitely the toughest, toughest, and most consistent competitor at her level."

There have been exchanges of both positivity and negativity between the two players. But as they say, all's well that ends well. This certainly holds true as Williams said the following in an Instagram session in October 2021 about her Met Gala picture with Sharapova:

“I got a chance to hang out with her (Sharapova) at Met Gala. She’s fun. We talked, we clicked, we laughed. We talked about tennis, and it was really, really fun, and I loved it.”

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Edited by Anirudh
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