Thursday, 9 July 2015

The most bitter cat fight in tennis is going down:the venomous truth about Serena and Sharapova

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will face each other today in a highly-charged semi-final at WimbledonSerena Williams and Maria Sharapova will face each other today in a highly-charged semi-final at Wimbledon
One area where Maria Sharapova reigns supreme is in the modern phenomenon of on-court gruntingSerena Williams’ grunt is a more macho ‘hur-wuff’ although she has been known to top it up with a shout of ‘Come on’ — or something far ruder
This is the greatest rivalry in women’s tennis — a feud which flows as powerfully off the court as on it. Bound at the top of the game by an obvious mutual antipathy are Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, who face each other in a highly-charged semi-final at Wimbledon today.
Williams, 33, is the more physically powerful, with a ferocious temper and the mindset of a battling champion. However, she cannot compete with Sharapova’s media-friendly combination of blonde Siberian beauty and sponsor-friendly image control — which has meant Sharapova, 28, has waltzed away with a fortune of £125 million and counting.
Added to that, Sharapova’s boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov, was once Serena’s lover. It’s an awkward situation given that the two women spend 20 weeks a year in close proximity on the tennis tour — all the while ignoring each other, or throwing out coded barbs. We put the queens of tennis head to head . . .
Serena Williams has beaten Maria Sharapova on clay, on grass, indoors and outdoors, year in and year out. Of their 19 meetings during their 11-year rivalry, Serena has won 17 times.
They first played each other in 2004 in Miami — when Williams won. However, that was the year Sharapova went on to beat Williams and win Wimbledon. Since then she has only beaten her on one other occasion.
After their last meeting, through evidently gritted teeth, Sharapova said: ‘I love every time that I step on the court against her because she’s the best. And you always want to play against the best. I’m proud to play in the same era as her.’
Like many tennis players, Sharapova distances herself from others when on tour. ‘The locker room is my least favourite place in the world,’ she has said. The depths of enmity between her and Serena Williams became apparent when Williams gave an interview in 2013 to Rolling Stone magazine.
During the course of it she spoke on the phone to sister Venus and mocked an unnamed rival — clearly Sharapova — who ‘begins every interview by saying: “I’m so happy. I’m so lucky” ’.
Serena said it was ‘so boring’, adding: ‘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.’
Williams hadn’t expected that her comments would be made public — and was greatly embarrassed when they were. So who was ‘the guy with the black heart’? Step forward Bulgarian tennis heart-throb Dimitrov — sometimes known as Baby Fed because he reminds tennis fans of the great Roger Federer.
Insiders say he grew close to Serena in early 2012 — they knew each other because they were both being coached by Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou. Then Dimitrov left Mouratoglou to join a different coach, at the same time dumping Serena and starting to date her young rival Sharapova, who was then the ‘It girl’ of tennis.
Williams was devastated. A few weeks afterwards, in an interview in July 2012, She said bleakly: ‘I have given up on dating. It just hasn’t worked out well for me. I’m a really emotional person. I give my all and everything. I do make mistakes — like every human does — but the last relationship just was too much of a heartbreak for me. I just can’t go through that any more. It was hard.’
Relations between the women became worse when Sharapova hit back at the comments about her new man — making public a romance which Williams had quietly started with Mouratoglou, 45.
Sharapova said: ‘If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.’ Mouratoglou, who has two children and an ex-wife, remains very much on the scene.
Legendary tennis writer Matt Cronin commented: ‘It’s Connors v McEnroe all over again, but this time in skirts.’
Consummate athletes both may be, but each is prey to peculiar superstitions. Sharapova hates standing on court lines, and will hop over them between points. She also has a serving routine which involves brushing her hair from her face and then bouncing the ball twice, slowly.
Serena Williams always ties her shoelaces in the same way, uses the same shower at Wimbledon before each match, and bounces the ball five times before her first serve and twice before the second. It is also said that she will wear the same pair of socks throughout a winning run.
Although relatively young women, neither of whom has married, Sharapova and Williams share dating histories which might politely be called complex.

Sharapova had an early romance with tennis lothario Andy Roddick. She then had a two-year liaison with basketball player Sasha Vujacic, to whom she became engaged, before they split up, citing the pressures of their respective schedules.
She also had a short fling with film producer Charlie Ebersol. There was terrible embarrassment when it was reported that Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine had compared Sharapova with a ‘dead frog’ in bed, saying that she was a huge disappointment as a lover. He went on to deny making the comment.
She now appears blissfully happy with Dimitrov, and they share homes in Florida and California.
Williams and Mouratoglou still seem to be an item, constantly snuggling up for selfies. They were even seen apparently looking at engagement rings earlier this year.
However, their three-year liaison has been on and off, to say the very least.
They were said by the German magazine Bild to be expecting a baby together last summer, but by the autumn Serena was posting heartbroken comments on Twitter such as: ‘Some people will always choose a terrible choice even though they have a rainbow in front of them. But now that rainbow is gone.’
She added: ‘I’m single and I have been single so the speculations can stop. I’ve heard it all. I’m not pregnant; I wasn’t pregnant. Although I think a baby would be great, but there’s a time and place for everything.’
Not that Serena confines her romantic conquests to the world of tennis. Before Mouratoglou, she dated two U.S. rap stars — Common and then Drake. Drake told a magazine he really loved and cared for her, but was promptly spotted out with model Dollicia Bryan, and then with singer Rihanna.
It seems that some bad feeling still lingers — it was reported that Serena confronted Rihanna at a Drake concert in February last year and that they exchanged some ‘not so friendly words’.
Afterwards, Serena wrote on Twitter: ‘Everybody needs love’, followed by, ‘Me. Mine. Alone. Myself. I. One. Solo. Unaccompanied.’
She and Drake appear to have patched up their friendship, however, and he is among those who are cheering her on this year.
‘Aaaaahh-ya!’ One area where Maria Sharapova reigns supreme is in the modern phenomenon of on-court grunting. Her distinctive sound — which she says she has made while playing since the age of four — has been memorably described as a ‘climactic shriek of the blue movie variety’. The noise, made when she hits every stroke, can reach 101 decibels, the equivalent of an aeroplane landing.
It is said that she doesn’t make so much as a squeak when practising.

Serena Williams’ grunt is a more macho ‘hur-wuff’ although she has been known to top it up with a shout of ‘Come on’ — or something far ruder. It has been recorded at 88.9 decibels, which is the equivalent to hearing a pneumatic drill from across a road.
In January this year she was docked a point for shouting before Sharapova had hit her return —believing she had aced her.
Earlier in the tournament, she was also given a warning for an ‘audible obscenity’. If you are one of the few who find the sound charming, do note that the grunts of both women are available as mobile ringtones.

The big difference is Serena’s serve. It’s not just that at 122mph it is among the fastest in the game — it is the variety, perfect placement and consistent brilliance which sets it apart. Chris Evert calls it ‘free flowing’ while Pam Shriver admires its ‘excellent mechanics’.
Steffi Graf, the only woman player to have more Grand Slams to her name than Williams (Graf has 22, compared with 20) has said: ‘I think that’s the biggest weapon there has ever been in the sport.’
Agniezka Radwanska, who was beaten by Williams in the 2012 Wimbledon final, declared: ‘It’s a bomb.’


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