Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova: Revisiting the Non-Existent Rivalry

Serena Williams easily defeated Maria Sharapova 7 pm Monday at the Arthur Ashe Museum. That was during the first match at the US Open—a first-round Grand Slam match at that. Williams won 6-1, 6-1.

Such rivalry has been going on for 15 years, and after 21 meetings, Williams proved that the rivalry is not one for the books. Williams dominated it with 19-2 wins.

How the Williams-Sharapova rivalry begun

The supposed rivalry began with Sharapova’s book, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, wherein she talked about Williams Wimbledon finals lost in 2004. Sharapova was 17 years old then.

Documenting the early tension between the two, Sharapova said, “I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me for it.” She witnessed Williams’s “low and vulnerable moment” when she followed her to the locker room and heard “guttural sobs” from Williams.

Sharapova also claimed that Williams told a common friend of theirs that “I will never lose to that little b**** again.”

Williams, on her part, said that she anticipated the book coming out. She was a fan of Sharapova after all. But after learning the book was about her (about half of the pages), she was disappointed. “I think the book was 100% hearsay,” she blurted out.

Williams continued, “I have cried in the locker room many times after a loss, and that’s what I have seen a lot of people do. I think it’s normal… I think it would be more shocking if I wasn’t in tears.”

The 2013 word war between the two women’s tennis superstars fueled the feud. Grigor Dimitrov, Williams’s rumoured ex-beau and who was dating Sharapova then, got in the way. 

Williams said, “If she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.” 

Sharapova retorted by saying, “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.” She hinted Williams’s dating her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.

Sharapova ranks No. 87

Sharapova was not playing her best tennis since she emerged after her enforced absence due to a drug test failure. Injuries also plagued her last few years on the court. 

Sports analysts have said what we see today is a shadow of the Russian tennis player who has already won five Grand Slam titles under her belt.

In 2019, she was also axed out in the first round of the Wimbledon against Pauline Parmentier at 5-0. 

However, Sharapova is also known as the player who defeats her first-round opponent. She did so with Simona Halep in 2006 US Open. 

Sharapova also performs well during night sessions in New York, winning 23 of the 24 matches she played.

Williams won the 19 of 21 matches

Sharapova only defeated Williams at the JP Morgan Chase Open a few games after her Wimbledon win. The rivalry should have stopped there since it took a one-sided turn from then on. 

Williams won the next 18 matches. It should have been 19 if not for an injury that prompted her to pull out from the 2018 French Open. Only four of all these matches have gone to the third set. The most iconic meeting would be the 2012 Olympic gold medal match.

Such dominance and so-called rivalry will be open to debate—forever!

 

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Tennis Rising Stars 2019: Watch Out for These 10 Names

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Williams.

Such names are the Hall of Famers—legendary. They dominate the tennis world ‘til today. But they would eventually fade from prominence. Boris Becker even called out the young tennis players to rise up.

Assuming the mantle may not be easy but these tennis players have all the rights to be the next big stars. 

These names can make the spectators rave with excitement. And they have already started carving out their names on clay, grass, and hard surfaces.

The tennis rising stars of 2019

1) Alexander Zverev

Also called Sascha, the 21-year-old German has already defeated not just Djokovic, but also Federer. He won the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour Finals in London. He reached Grand Slam quarterfinals once as well.

2) Aryna Sabalenka

The 20-year-old Belarusian started at No. 73 and ended the year at No. 13. The match of the US Open 2018 was given to her, winning against Naomi Osaka in just three sets. She had also won the Wuhan title, weeks after playing at the Open.

3) Amanda Anisimova

Anisimova was already included in the Top 100 even before she hits her 18th birthday this August. The American player had already won the French Open (juniors division) and Orange Bowl titles in 2018.

4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

The Greek player is the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals men’s singles champion. He had already reached three ATP singles finals only to be defeated by Nadal in two of these. He was one of the strongest contenders of 2019 ATP World Tour.

5) Dominic Thiem

Thiem is one of the prominent names in the ATP World Tour. He reached the French Open final against Rafael Nadal. He has also reached the ATP Finals in London for three straight years.

6) Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov is a Canadian tennis player who had already hit records in 2018. The 2018 ATP World Tour ranked him at 23. He won the junior grand slam title at the 2016 Wimbledon and the junior doubles title at the 2017 US Open. 

7) Alex de Minaur

De Minaur reached the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, leading him to be ranked at No. 31. He had already appeared in the third round of the grand slam singles events. 

8) Nick Kyrgios 

Kyrgios is another Australian on the list, aside from de Minaur. He had already won four ATP singles titles, three of which were from 2016. Krygios had reached the quarterfinals in two grand slam singles events. One of these grand slams was the 2015 Australian Open. 

9) Maria Sakkari

Sakkari was ranked at No. 29 by the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). In 2018, she reached the semi-finals in Istanbul. But in 2019, Sakkari won the Morrocan Open against Johanna Konta. She had also defeated the top players, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova, in 2019.

10) Bianca Andreescu

Andreescu, who is also a Canadian, is currently ranked 22 by the WTA. Andreescu has already defeated Venus Williams. She also won the 2019 Indian Wells Masters. Martina Navratilova believes she has the potential towards becoming the next tennis superstar.

 

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Player Feature: Novak Djokovic

Full Name: Novak Djokovic 

Birthdate: May 22, 1987

Birthplace: Belgrade, SR Serbia 

Years active: 2003 – present

ATP Rank: #1

Key facts and statistics

  • One of the Big Four of men’s tennis
  • Had the highest Elo rating
  • 16 Grand Slam titles
  • Held the 4 major titles at once
  • 5x ATP #1 tennis player in men’s singles
  • Has 75 singles titles

Novak Djokovic is dubbed as one of the best male tennis players of the Open era and of all-time. He ranks among the rosters of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, and Bjorn Borg.

An aggressive baseline player, there is something unique about Djokovic’s all-court (albeit modern) playing style. He is known for his deep and penetrating groundstrokes. But his backhand underspin is legendary with its consistent pace and precision – even considered as the best in this era. 

Djokovic is both a defensive and offensive player. He can easily convert positions on seemingly defensive positions. 

He turns to his serves as a weapon to win free points. The same goes with his return of serves; John McEnroe even said that Djokovic is the most outstanding returner in tennis history.

Together with Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray, they formed the Big Four. The players dominate men’s tennis division in terms of ranking and victories. Djokovic has the highest Elo rating of the four, though, because of his records in winning against quality opponents. He was the only player to defeat the top three tennis players within one season.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) currently rank him as the #1 player in men’s singles. He was a five-time #1 player, grabbing the position in a total of 250 weeks. He was the only Serbian to achieve the ranking as well as win a Grand Slam singles title.

Djokovic has numerous titles under his belt; 75 titles. He has a total of 16 Grand Slam titles, reaching the Career Grand Slam title after winning the 2016 French Open. He was the eighth player to do so.

He was also the third tennis player who holds four major titles at once, on different surfaces. His major titles include seven Australian Opens, five Wimbledons, three US Opens, and one French Open.

He was consistently on tours since he started playing professionally as well. Djokovic has won 33 ATP Tour Masters, 12 ATP Tour 500s and five ATP Finals. He holds the record for being the only male player to win tournaments under Masters 1000.

With all these, he was always the consistent half on the best rivalries on the court. Not just against his Big Four contemporaries, but also Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and Juan Martin del Potro. In all their meetings, Djokovic prevailed.

One of the cited reasons for his court endurance and agility is his vegan diet. In 2010, his coaching team, which included Igor Četojević, a nutritionist, discovered that he has a gluten intolerance. Gluten was removed from his diet. He became stronger and quicker after the change.

Aside from playing tennis, he also devotes his time to his vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo that he opened in 2016.

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