Maria Sharapova’s press conference at Wimbledon on Saturday developed into a war of words contest between the third seed and America’s Serena Williams.
The top seed, in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine this week, made a veiled swipe at a rival player, and it was evident after Saturday’s interview that Sharapova agrees with the article’s author that she was the most likely target of the bunch of words which, like ‘straight arrows’ Williams ‘thrusted into the sky.’
In the US magazine, Williams said of an unnamed player “who lives, breathes and dresses tennis. I mean, seriously, give it a rest.
“She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’- it’s so boring,” the five-time Wimbledon champion continued. “She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.”
The latter reference has been widely taken to be pointing at Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian player who is dating Sharapova and had previously been close to Williams.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy,” Sharapova said.
Irked by the reference, Sharapova traded her own lines, emphasising on Williams’ relationship with her French coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, on the pay back.
“If she talks about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.
“(She should) talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things,” the Russian added. “She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.”
“I obviously have many opinions about different things in life,” Sharapova added.
“But what I do on court and what I talk about in the press conference is strictly about my career. I’m sure people want to know more, but yet I try to keep my personal life private.
“If I speak to my friends, that’s one thing. But I don’t go out and try to create things that shouldn’t be really talked about”
Mouratoglou and Williams have not spoken about the nature of their relationship, and there has been no confirmation that his marriage has ended.