Sharapova vs. Serena Rivalry
What can you say about Sharapova? Caught "cheating" for using a drug for the past ten years. I use the term "cheating" in quotations because she never knew she was using an illegal drug until the year they banned it from the WTA and ATP players. No fault of her own, her team didn't open the email that said her drug was banned and she still got to play at the Australian Open. The reason why I am writing this article today is not just about Sharapova, I want to dive into the rivalry that Sharapova has with Serena Williams.
The first encounter between the two players was in 2004. The 17-year-old unknown Russian came to face to face with World Ranked Number 1 and defending Wimbledon champion, Serena Williams. She absolutely steamrolled Serena with a score of 6-1 6-4. This match was brought up in Sharapova's latest memoir about her career. Sharapova discusses how after she beat Serena, she went into the locker room and found her sobbing with her team. Sharapova, hiding from Serena and her team, grabbed her stuff and got the heck out of there. After that incident, Sharapova believes it was at that moment that made Serena make her mission to be a better player and to beat her. First of all, Serena had nothing to prove. Everyone hates losing, especially Serena. She was going for her third straight title. I would want it as bad as her if I was put in her shoes. I do believe Serena played better in her career and did play her 21 more times (out of which she won 19). Maria claims that Serena "hated [her] for being the skinny kid that beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon".
I think that it harsh for her to say because I don't think she hated her. I do not think Serena liked Maria because she was good and they were rivals for the Number 1 spot. Everyone has their rivals. Maria was one of the only ones, I believe, was a serious threat to Serena and her reign while they were both competing in the WTA. This rivalry is not even left on the court. Serena and Sharapova share one thing, the fact that they both dated Grigor Dimitrov. While this may be overlooked, it still sparks drama between the two players. Off court disturbances can cause on court breakdowns or mental blocks for players.
In terms of playing style, both have similarities when it comes to dominating their opponents. Both of them rely on their big strokes that allow them to overpower their opponents. I believe that for their stature, they do have the ability to track down the ball very well and play defense against a grinding opponent. Sharapova has her track down, lefty shot while Serena has more speed than people think and is able to run down a ball while doing the splits. After Sharapova had her shoulder surgery, her serve was not as big as it once was. Pre-surgery, Sharapova serve was one of her most deadly weapons. We can say the same thing about Serena. Personally, I thought she had a faster serve over Venus but apparently, Venus holds the record for the fastest serve at 131 mph.
Besides this, let's look at the numbers...
Head to Head Matchup: Serena 19 vs. Sharapova 2
Grand Slams: Serena 23 vs. Sharapova 5
Total Titles: Serena 73 vs. Sharapova 35
Prize Money: Serena $84+ million vs. Sharapova $36+ million