Tennis

Maria Sharapova lifts lid on feud with Serena Williams in new book

Sharapova shares in upcoming autobiography how her relationship with Williams soured

It's no secret that Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams - two of the biggest stars in women's tennis - do not see eye to eye.

And that has been confirmed in Sharapova's soon-to-be-released autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far.

The 30-year-old Russian, who is making a comeback after serving a 15-month doping ban for meldonium, lifted the lid on the bitterness between herself and 35-year-old Williams, reported news.com.au.

Sharapova wrote that the relationship between the pair fell apart after she, then 17, beat the 23-time Grand Slam champion in the Wimbledon final in 2004.

While things were initially pleasant between the two after the match, the mood quickly changed in the locker room.

"When the match was over, Serena hugged me," Sharapova wrote. "She said something like 'good job' and smiled. But she could not have been smiling on the inside.

"What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling. Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.

THE ANSWER

"People often wonder why I have had so much trouble beating Serena; my record against her is 2 and 19. To me, the answer was in this locker room.

"I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon. But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry.

"Not long after the tournament, I heard Serena told a friend - who then told me - 'I will never lose to that little b**** again'."

Since the Wimbledon shock loss, Williams, who is taking a break from the game as she gives birth to her first baby, has lost to Sharapova just once, including a 7-0 record in Grand Slam events.

Sharapova believes their rivalry pushed Williams to even greater heights.

"Serena and I should be friends; we have the same passion. But we are not," Sharapova wrote.

"I think, to some extent, we have driven each other. Maybe that's what it takes.

"Only when you have that intense antagonism can you find the strength to finish her off.

"Who knows? Some day, when all this is in our past, maybe we'll become friends."

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was thrilled to learn on Monday that he would return to world No. 1 for the first time in three years but sorry that it came because Roger Federer withdrew from this week's ATP Cincinnati Masters tournament.

Third-ranked Federer said he injured his back in Montreal, where he lost to Germany's Alexander Zverev in last Sunday's final in a key hard-court tune-up for the US Open.

Federer, this year's Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, was the only player who could have denied second-ranked French Open champion Nadal the top spot in next Monday's rankings.

"For me to be in that position is something very special," Nadal said. "I have the passion and love for the game.

"That's why I'm able to be back in that position again."

It's the first time Nadal will be No. 1 since July 2014.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, who won his 15th Grand Slam title this year at Roland Garros, will overtake Britain's top-ranked Andy Murray, who withdrew from Montreal and Cincinnati with a hip injury.

Nadal, who has spent 141 total weeks in the top spot, has struggled with knee injuries since first becoming world No. 1 in August 2008 after a Cincinnati semi-final run.

He admitted doubting he could ever regain the top spot after so many years.

"If you don't have doubts, it's because you are very arrogant and I'm not very arrogant," Nadal said.

"There's a young generation up and coming. It's very tough to come back and be No. 1." 
- WIRE SERVICES

TennisMaria Sharapovaserena williams