‘Like a Little Cat Fight’ – Coach Rick Macci Talks About How Serena Williams Outplayed Maria Sharapova

Published 10/23/2022, 7:30 AM EDT
Serena Williams of the United States shakes hands with Maria Sharapova of Russia after defeating her in her Women’s Singles first round match during day one of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are among two of the best tennis players of this generation. On the tennis court, they built a fierce rivalry. However, the rivalry was dominated by Serena, allowing little to no room for the Russian star in almost every match. Rick Macci, who was their childhood coach, recently spoke about how Serena identified the weaknesses in Sharapova’s style and exploited it in all of their match-ups.

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Despite being one of the finest players, Sharapova, after her two initial victories over the American legend, never figured out how to get past Serena. Currently, both are out of the professional tennis circuit with a handful of Grand Slam titles to their name. 

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Rick Macci opened up about how Serena Williams figured out a way to beat Sharapova

The Hall of Famer American tennis coach Macci trained both Serena and Sharapova during the initial stages of their careers. In a recent interview, the 67-year-old opened up about how Serena changed her game to outclass Sharapova after losing two of the first three matches against her.

LONDON – JULY 3: Maria Sharapova of Russia poses with her trophy after she won against Serena Williams of USA (R) in the ladies final match at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship on July 3, 2004 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in LondonSharapova won 6-1 6-4. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

He said, “I think for the media and other people because they made it very clear we don’t like each other you know, and whenever people don’t like each other you know because one’s making more money one has more endorsements you know it’s kind of like a little cat fight.” 

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Further, he talked about how the 23-time Grand Slam champion figured out a way to beat her rival with her aggressive style. He added, “Serena, as time went on, knew one thing. I have to be aggressive. I have to punch her before she punches me and I gotta take advantage of her mobility.” However, the five-time Grand Slam champion was a great ball striker but was not good at defense, and once the former world number one figured out this, since then she just dominated the tennis court.

Williams and Sharapova’s famous rivalry

Their rivalry began when the Russian entered the professional circuit in the mid-2000s. Over the years, they both have played 22 matches against each other. Williams holds a comfortable, if not dominant, win-loss ratio of 20:2 against Sharapova.

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Nevertheless, both tennis icons have retired from their beloved sport. The five-time Grand Slam champion retired back in 2020 and the American star ‘evolved’ away from the sport earlier at the 2022 US Open. However, after the conclusion of their rivalry, Williams believes that she is now best friends with her once arch-rival Sharapova.

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Pratishtha Prakash

393 articles

Pratishtha Prakash is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. She has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and Journalism from MIT ADT University, Pune. In the past, she has interned at the sports desk of The Hitavada, a regional English daily newspaper.

Edited By: Tony Thomas

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