The two tennis players aren’t even scheduled to play each other for at least two weeks and yet, there’s drama.
Stephen Rodrick of Rolling Stone recently profiled Williams and she had a few comments on a top-five star’s personal life:
There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean, seriously, give it a rest. She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’—it’s so boring. 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.
Rodrick believes that Serena is referencing Sharapova and Sharapova's relationship with Grigor Dimitrov, who allegedly used to date Serena.
Sharapova didn’t like what Williams had to say, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN):
At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy.
If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids. Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.
Back and forth they go.
Sharapova can’t allow for this to go on much longer, though. Williams is the favorite to win every tournament she enters, and Sharapova is just one of the challengers. In order to give Williams a run for her money—should they meet again—Sharapova needs to stay focused.
Williams and Sharapova recently met in the French Open final. Both had played exceptionally well throughout the tournament, but Serena made quick work of Sharapova. Williams won her second French Open title with back-to-back set victories over the No. 2 seed at the Grand Slam.
In the coming days, Sharapova will begin her run at Wimbledon, where she’ll attempt to win her fifth career Grand Slam. She can’t have her mind elsewhere when she takes the grass court against Kristina Mladenovic.
Sharapova hasn’t been too sharp in the past at Wimbledon. While she won the Grand Slam back in 2004, she has only made one trip to the finals since. In the last six years, Sharapova has advanced to the quarterfinals on one occasion, coming in 2011 when she lost in the title match to Petra Kvitova.
Last year, Sharapova was bounced from the tournament in the fourth round. Sabine Lisicki, the No. 15 seed, upended Sharapova in straight sets. Sharapova was the top seed at the Grand Slam in 2012, so the loss was far from expected. She has rebounded nicely, though, as she’s made the semifinals in the last three Grand Slams.
Sharapova is the third seed in this year’s tournament and sits in the same bracket as Sara Errani. She could face Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals, and if things go the way the media wants them to, the Wimbledon final could come down to Sharapova and Williams.
But before Sharapova thinks about back-to-back trips to a Grand Slam final, she needs to get Williams completely out of her mind. If Sharapova’s focus isn’t 100 percent on her upcoming match against Mladenovic, she could exit Wimbledon much earlier than she wants to.
If the rivalry is going to continue at Wimbledon, Sharapova can’t think about Williams until much later at the Grand Slam.