Maria Sharapova muses on her long, lopsided rivalry with Serena Williams in a new autobiography released on Tuesday and how she believes a locker room moment fueled the American’s drive to dominate her.
The Russian-born Sharapova was 17 when she defeated Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Rather than proving the start of a long, close-run rivalry, it was one of just two victories Sharapova can claim against the US great, who has beaten her 19 times.
In her new book, “Unstoppable: My Life So Far,” Sharapova says it was not only her victory, but the fact that she overheard Williams weeping afterwards in the locker room that ensured the American would always find a way to elevate her game in their future contests.
“Guttural sobs, the sort that make you heave for air, the sort that scares you,” Sharapova writes of the moment, according to excerpts released by The New York Times.
“It went on and on. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there. People often wonder why I have had so much trouble beating Serena; she’s owned me in the past ten years.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon,” she said.
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) September 12, 2017
In the memoir published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sharapova details her tennis career from the time of her move to Florida at the age of six — and Williams caught her attention early on.
Sharapova recalls surreptitiously watching Serena and her sister Venus play during a visit to the Florida academy where she trained — unwilling even then to “put myself in the position of worshiping them, looking up, being a fan.”
Tensions between Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who returned to competition in April after a 15-month doping ban, and 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams — who gave birth to a daughter this month — have sometimes spilled over into public spats.
Sharapova ponders the reasons, wondering if the antagonism between them has perhaps driven each to excellence.
“Maybe that’s better than being friends,” she writes, adding: “Someday, when all this is in our past, maybe we’ll become friends. Or not. You never can tell.”
* Provided by AFP
Spanish ace Garbine Muguruza officially took over the world No. 1 ranking for the first time on Monday, replacing Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova.
The 23-year-old, who lost in straight sets to Petra Kvitova in the US Open fourth round, had picked up her second Grand Slam title earlier this summer at Wimbledon, and followed it up by winning Cincinnati.
“Becoming the WTA No. 1 in the world is a dream come true,” said Muguruza. “Every birthday wish was always the same as I blew out the candles – to become the best.
“There is a lot of work behind this achievement and a lot of love and passion for this sport. There’s also a lot of hard moments along with the great moments. Not to mention the extreme amount of love from my family and the appreciation for my fans and all the people that have helped me in this journey.
“And I am very proud to share such a special moment for our country with Rafael Nadal, the best role model I could ever have. I look forward to continue working hard to keep this position.”
This is the first time since 2003 that both world No. 1 players on the ATP and WTA hail from the same country.
Here’s a look at the numbers behind Muguruza’s rise.
1 — Muguruza was one of eight women who started the US Open with a chance to rise to No. 1.
2 — Muguruza is the second Spanish woman to occupy the world No. 1 spot since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975.
2 — Grand Slam titles for Muguruza – the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon.
2 — titles for Muguruza in 2017 – Wimbledon and Cincinnati.
7 — match wins and 3 losses for Muguruza against top-10 opposition in 2017.
9 — tournaments where Muguruza has made the quarter-finals or better in 2017, out of 17 contested this season
15 — Muguruza was ranked No. 15 entering Wimbledon in July. It was her lowest ranking in two years.
15-5 — Muguruza’s win-loss record in three-setters in 2017.
20 — Grand Slam main draws Muguruza has contested so far in her career.
22 — years since a Spanish woman was ranked world No. 1 (Sanchez-Vicario in 1995).
24 — Muguruza is the 24th player in WTA history to be world No. 1.
42 — match wins and 16 losses for Muguruza in 2017.
50-44 — Muguruza’s career win-loss record against top-20 opponents (12-7 in 2017).
Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza trounced top-ranked defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 Saturday to reach the final of the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters.
The sixth-ranked Spaniard reached her first US event final by flipping the script in a rematch of their 2016 Cincinnati semi-final.
“I’m just happy to be in the final,” said Muguruza. “I was hoping to get it and my concentration was really good. Very happy with this win.”
Muguruza advanced to Sunday’s final against the winner of a later match between Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep and 151st-ranked US wildcard Sloane Stephens.
While she can’t do it this week, Muguruza would be in the hunt for the top ranking at the US Open, which starts on August 28.
“I’m definitely not thinking at all about number one,” Muguruza said. “It’s not going to help me. It’s going to hold me back.
I’m thinking about how I’m playing and if I keep doing that maybe that’s going to get me to number one.”
Halep, who won her 15th career title at Madrid in May, has not dropped a set this week.
Stephens is playing in only her fourth event since returning from a foot injury that required surgery in January. Her run ensures she will return to the top-100 in Monday’s world rankings.
In later men’s semi-finals, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios will face Spaniard David Ferrer and American John Isner will meet Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
Ferrer, 35, is the oldest Cincinnati semi-finalist since 1970 champion Ken Rosewall. He won his lone Masters crown in 2012 at Paris.
Neither Kyrgios nor Dimitrov have ever reached an ATP Masters final while Isner is 0-3 in such matches.