Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Observer/Kevin Mitchell: Serena Williams blasts Maria Sharapova over book ‘hearsay’ as showdown looms

The Guardian

French Open 2018

The Observer
Serena Williams blasts Maria Sharapova over book ‘hearsay’ as showdown looms

• Pair will meet in the French Open fourth round on Monday
• ‘Her book was 100% hearsay which was a little disappointing’

Kevin Mitchell at Roland Garros

Sat 2 Jun 2018 19.59 BST
First published on Sat 2 Jun 2018 17.09 BST

Serena Williams hits back at Maria Sharapova over autobiography 'hearsay' – video

The cold war is over. Serena Williams, husbanding as much diplomatic warmth as she deemed appropriate, inferred strongly before her blockbuster match here on Monday against Maria Sharapova that her Russian rival had been indulging in fake news.
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Williams on Saturday beat Julia Görges 6-3, 6-4 to go through to the fourth round, not long after Sharapova had blitzed the sixth seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-2, 6-1 in under an hour. Later, after batting away a couple of innocuous questions about her daughter, Olympia, Williams was confronted with a 14-year-old remark by Donald Trump that “Maria’s shoulders were incredibly alluring and ... you were intimidated by her supermodel good looks”. Pausing, she replied: “I can’t say I have been intimidated by anyone.”

That became blindingly apparent as she opened up both barrels, ever so quietly. “We are both on a comeback for two totally different reasons. She’s been on her journey for over a year and I just started mine a couple months ago. It’s something new and different. I don’t know what else to say.”

Yes, she did. Asked about passages in Sharapova’s recent book in which she intimated the reason Williams has dominated the Russian in 19 of their 21 matches over 14 years was because Williams was so distraught at losing to her in the 2004 Wimbledon final she cried in the locker room, Williams looked surprised.

“The book was 100% hearsay – at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing. I have cried in the locker room many times after a loss. I think it’s normal. If anything, it shows the passion and the desire and the will that you have to want to go out there and do the best. It’s a Wimbledon final, you know?

“It would be more shocking if I wasn’t in tears. I do have emotions and I wear them on my sleeve. I’m human. What happens there should definitely maybe stay there and not necessarily talk about it in a not‑so‑positive way in a book.”
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On Monday’s fourth-round match – the most anticipated of the tournament – she said: “Quite frankly, she’s probably a favourite. She’s been playing for over a year now. I just started. I’m just trying to get my bearings. This will be another test. This is one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here.” Except when playing Williams, to whom she lost in the 2013 final.

She continued: “I don’t have any negative feelings towards her. It was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book. Especially having a daughter, I feel negativity is taught. Women, especially, should bring each other up.

“A lot of people always assume that I feel a different way and it’s not true. You know, if anything, I feel like we should encourage each other and the success of one female should be the inspiration to another. I have said that a thousand times. I always get inspired by other women that are doing well.
Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova produced a stunning demolition of the world No 6 Karolina Pliskova in 59 minutes, 6-2, 6-1. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

“Before her incident of drugs or not, I just feel she was doing good. Now she’s doing well again, and I have never had any hard feelings toward her. Whenever I play her, obviously I go out there the way I play everyone else. I go extremely hard. I don’t play anyone different. I play everyone so hard because they play me really hard, and I always have to be ready for it.
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“As a fan, I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest. I didn’t expect to be reading a book about me that wasn’t necessarily true. I didn’t know she looked up to me that much or was so involved in my career.

“When her whole drug incident [occurred], I was, like, she was brave to say something. I didn’t have anything negative to say about Maria.”

Without abusing the metaphor, Williams had the ultimate cornerman on court in Mike Tyson, who was there cheering for her on Saturday evening. “Seeing him there is always pretty cool. He was obviously such a great champion.”

Whatever the verbal heat generated, Williams is probably right in her assessment of her next match. It would be one of her best career triumphs to overcome Sharapova again, at 36 and in the early stages of her comeback. For Sharapova, losing would be another devastating blow – and might underpin her extraordinary will to win against all odds.
Topics

    French Open 2018
    The Observer

    Maria Sharapova
    Serena Williams
    French Open
    Tennis
    news

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