Serena Williams is back in the forefront of the world of tennis, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Fellow competitor Maria Sharapova has had her book Unstoppable published and eager tennis fans have dissected the book already. Some comments regarding Serena have been made by the Russian and are quite frankly unnecessary.
There are many different opinions on whether Sharapova’s comments were really needed and if there is a sense of jealousy amongst her words. For me, the bottom line is that her thoughts did not have to be aired into the public eye like that–especially on subjects we know Serena is uncomfortable on.
Sharapova commented, “First of all her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realise watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. It’s the whole thing— her presence, her confidence, her personality,” she then follows this up by saying, “Even now she makes me feel like a little girl.”
The American has said in the past that she prefers to use resistance bands over weights to not build more muscle on her naturally muscular and athletic physique.
It is sad that Maria Sharapova spoke this way of such a great champion. The media has not always been kind to Williams and her physique, which has probably added to her wanting to use resistance bands as a substitute to weights. By using these ways to describe her it adds more attention on a subject that Serena clearly does not want around her. There are ways to explain the intimidation factor the American has without bringing her body into it–it seems like a cheap shot from Sharapova. I am not saying the Russian is being intentionally malicious but I am saying she is being completely obnoxious.
Serena Williams has a muscular physique and so do many elite athletes; it is not as if the American is dramatically different to her peers (she is average height). After all, Maria Sharapova is one of the tallest WTA players out there at 6’2″ tall, which makes it seem odd that Williams (5’9″) can make Sharapova seem like a “little girl.” It is disrespectful to the 23-time Major champion to bring this up as one of the reasons to her dominance–particularly over Sharapova. The American has not lost to the Russian since 2004 and boasts a 19-2 head to head record over her. An intimidating physique alone does not create a head to head that one sided. Serena Williams is simply a better tennis player than Maria Sharapova. The Russian did not once mention anything about Serena’s tennis ability.
If you read Rafael Nadal’s autobiography, you will see the vast amount of respect and adulation he has for his rival Roger Federer, despite having a superior head to head record against him. Nadal compliments everything from Federer’s personality to his tennis ability, using the word “perfect” to describe him. I know the relationships of these two rivalries are different but they are global sportspeople after all and respect should be valued. Serena Williams does almost everything in tennis a bit better than Sharapova and there are thirteen years worth of matches to back up this theory. The immense ferocity and talent of Williams’ tennis is what makes Serena great and Sharapova should have showed some respect to her and written this. They are professional tennis players at the end of the day.
Of course Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are not the best of friends and they have had their moments, but they have both shown heartfelt respect to each other over the years. However, it is when the other is at their lowest that shows their character. Remember when Sharapova failed a drugs test last year? Serena Williams could have easily said some nasty things about the Russian but instead she did quite the contrary. The American said that Sharapova “showed a lot of courage” in those moments. Would Sharapova do the same if she was in Serena’s shoes?
Serena Williams has enjoyed many highs in her career–more than any other player in histor– but also the rare low. One of these lows was the 2004 Wimbledon final but I think there are many more hard losses that would rank higher in her list of tough defeats (the 2015 US Open semifinal would definitely rank higher and many others too). That match turned out to be Sharapova’s first victory over the American and last in Grand Slams. Of course losing any final is tough and even more so in a Wimbledon final. Sharapova recalls a moment from the aftermath of that match:
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon. I think she hated me for taking something that she believed belonged to her. I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment. But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”
This was obviously a low moment for Williams yet Sharapova shows it to the world and uses it as a potential reason why the head to head is so dominant in Serena’s favour. I am pretty sure that this is the last thing on the American’s mind as she is widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time. I am also very sure that Serena has forgiven her because since then a lot has changed: the American won 18 of their next 19 matches, Serena has gone on to win 17 more Grand Slam titles, whereas the Russian has lifted 4 more Major trophies.
What makes this all even worst is that all of this sudden attention occurs when Serena Williams has just become a mother for the first time. I am aware that Sharapova did not intend on this happening at this time but the American should be able to enjoy her well earned time off away from the game. Over the years these two have done a lot of talking, but Serena always does the walking, which is all that matters.
The release of Maria Sharapova’s autobiography was hotly anticipated and many wanted to see how she would describe her biggest obstacle: Serena Williams. Many people, including myself, were disappointing at the lack of respect shown to the greatest tennis player of all time. I know it was not intentional but it was saddening to see how obnoxious Sharapova is in the way she describes Williams. The American will be back and will yet again let her tennis do the talking. Perhaps Sharapova should do the same.