As Wimbledon got underway on Monday, it seemed quite natural that world No1 Serena Williams and No3 seed Maria Sharapova were grabbing all the attention.
After all, the pair are considered the top two contenders for the title and are two of only three former champions in the women’s draw.
But Williams and Sharapova have been hogging the spotlight because they’ve been taking jabs at each others’ personal lives – the former through quotes printed in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about Sharapova and her relationship with ATP player Grigor Dimitrov.
Sharapova struck back in her pre-Wimbledon interview and alluded to Williams’ rumoured relationship with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who was believed to be married when pictures of the pair surfaced on the internet.
Williams later said she apologised to Sharapova and also attempted to butter up the tennis media saying they had “spoiled her” with their professionalism over the years as she tried to place some of the blame on the Rolling Stone journalist.
Granted, tennis journalists give Serena liberties that perhaps others don’t get in their respective fields, which is evident in the fact that the pictures of her and Mouratoglou surfaced last autumn and I am yet to see a single tennis writer – myself included – quiz her about it.
But Serena has been on tour since 1995, has been in music videos, featured on shopping channels, has had documentaries made about her and has dated rappers, who then wrote songs about her.
Throughout her whole life she has been exposed to all types of media, and it’s odd that she would put herself in that position and badmouth a fellow player in front of a journalist, without realising that the quotes would see the light.
Regardless of how intentional or unintentional those comments were, this is far from the image that should be portrayed by the ladies of the WTA – cat fights, trash talk and discussing each others’ boyfriends in public.
Serena and Sharapova are currently the best two players on tour and between them own 20 Grand Slam singles titles. So while a little animosity between rivals is not a problem and no one expects them to be friends, stooping to such lows is unacceptable at this stage in their careers.
A mistake like that should not happen from Serena, and Sharapova should have taken the high road. Some think a showdown between the pair at Wimbledon this fortnight will have an added appeal but I can’t see how any of that can benefit tennis.
Borrowing Serena’s words from the interview: “Give it a rest, already”.
THUMBS UP – Monica Puig
The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico and a two-time junior Grand Slam finalist, took out No5 seed Sara Errani in straight sets at Wimbledon on the opening day.
While Errani’s record on grass is quite woeful, the Italian has made the semis or better in three of the last five Majors so kudos to Puig for dropping only five games against her and moving on.
She may not be the most popular on tour. She comes off as arrogant, was accused of gamesmanship a couple of times and is inexplicably dating a 37-year-old singer who dresses like it’s Halloween every day.
But one thing you can’t deny is that the Belarusian is a fighter and never gives up. On Monday was yet another showcase of her true grit as she hobbled into the second round playing through injury with a heavily bandaged leg to advance.