Russia’s Maria Sharapova will have an opportunity to have, not a revenge, but some sort of consolation when she squares off against Serena Williams in the fourth round of the French Open in Paris today.
It will be the 22nd meeting between the pair. Maria Sharapova’s most recent victory against the phenomenal American was in 2004. Since then, Serena has racked up 18 straight wins and has won the last 16 sets against the Russian. Dominance, for lack of a better word.
The two superstars have not met since the 2016 Australian Open when Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium and got banned for 15 months.
Serena Williams only just returned to Grand Slam action last week after nearly 16 months. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has done well for herself in Paris so far, and has her confidence growing with each swing and with each match. She’s bidding to become only the fourth player to win a Grand Slam after returning from maternity leave. Sharapova, however, stands in the way.
The Russian returned from a doping ban in April last year and having, apparently, played in more matches than Serena, is looking forward to the match.
“Any time you play against Serena, you know what you’re up against. You know the challenge that is upon you,” Sharapova said.
“Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.”
Notwithstanding the overwhelming head-to-head record, Serena has labelled Sharapova with the favourite tag as she’s insisted the Russian is the fitter player.
“Quite frankly, she’s probably a favorite in this match, for sure,” Williams said, chuckling.
“She’s been playing … for over a year now. I just started. So I’m just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go.”
Williams defeated 11th-seeded Julia Görges, 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday. Probably her best display since her return from maternity leave. Sharapova didn’t do less as she trounced sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 6-2, 6-1, also, her best showing since she returned from her doping ban. For the sake of tennis, this should be a cracker.
“‘I will never lose to that little bitch again,'” a statement Serena made in 2004 in reference to Sharapova, according to the Russian’s book, Unstoppable: My Story So Far.
Whether that was “hearsay,” as Serena called it, or not, it has clearly come to pass, and might continue today.
This match is live today, Monday, on Philippe-Chatrier at Roland-Garros from 2:00pm Nigerian Time.