Maria Sharapova took a swipe at Wimbledon champion Serena Williams yesterday as she warned the American not to drag personal issues into the public domain.
Williams, in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine, made a veiled swipe at a rival player, and it was evident that Sharapova agrees with the article’s author that she was the probable target.
Russian Sharapova, who won the 2004 Wimbledon title and starts as the third seed in London this year, could not resist the temptation to return fire as what began with a loose comment from Williams looked in danger of becoming a full-blown locker-room feud between the best-known players in the women’s game.
In the US magazine, Williams said of the unnamed player: “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.”
The latter reference has been widely taken to be pointed at Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian player who is dating Sharapova and had previously been close to Williams.
In turn, Williams is now said to be an item with her French coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. And the nature of that relationship came under scrutiny yesterday in Sharapova’s press conference at Wimbledon.
“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,” Sharapova said.
“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 should] talk about other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.”
Sharapova and Williams cannot face each other across the net before the Wimbledon final in two weeks’ time.
Regardless of any feuding, it would suit Sharapova if she could reach the final with Williams beaten, given she has lost each of the last 13 matches they have played.
Her last win over Williams came in 2004, when she followed up her Wimbledon win by repeating the feat in the final of the Tour Championships.