American tennis star Serena Williams has said that she does not harbour any ill feelings towards rival Maria Sharapova. In fact, she was surprised about the Russian’s recent autobiography and what it said about her.
Williams said that women should encourage each other instead of detailing locker-room incidents in a less than positive light.
The pair are set to meet in the fourth round of the French Open on Monday. Serena Williams has a better track record, having won their last 18 meetings. Meanwhile, Sharapova has only two victories, both coming in 2004.
And it was the first of those – in the Wimbledon final – that Sharapova believes was the catalyst for Williams’ domination since.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon,” she wrote.
“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.”
Williams said, “I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book. A lot of people always assume that I feel a different way and it’s not true.
“Especially having a daughter – I feel like negativity is taught. If anything, I feel like we should encourage each other, and the success of one female should be the inspiration to another, and I have said that a thousand times.
“As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her.
“And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest. I was, like: ‘Oh, okay, I didn’t expect to be reading a book about me, that wasn’t necessarily true’.
“I didn’t know she looked up to me that much, or was so involved in my career.”
Sharapova seems to have finally had an injury-free run since returning from a 15-month doping ban in April 2017.
Williams is more concerned by her lack of match practice in the run up to the tournament. The French Open is only her third competitive appearance since the 2017 Australian Open.
“She’s probably a favourite in this match, for sure,” Williams said.
“She’s been playing for over a year now. I just started. But I think this will be another test.
“I think this is just one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here.”