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At Wimbledon in 2004, that up-and-comer was Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova, then 17, was touted as the next big thing — a blonde, Siberian-born, Nick Bollettieri-trained ball striker with a peacock-like grunt who could hit as hard as anyone on the women’s tour.
That’s a huge reason there’s so much interest in her memoir: People want to read Sharapova’s take on 13 years of losses to Williams and find out whether she thinks she’s capable of beating Williams again.
Maria Sharapova is an entertaining tennis player — but more so off the court than on.
In the book, which came out on September 12, Sharapova explains why she believes she hasn’t beat Williams since 2004.
“In analyzing this, people talk about Serena’s strength, her serve and confidence, how her particular game matches up to my particular game, and, sure there is truth to all of that,” Sharapova writes, revisiting her 2004 Wimbledon upset over Williams, who was favored to win.
Sharapova and Williams would play again that year at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, with Sharapova winning again.
And it’s a feud that has captivated tennis fans and sportswriters even when the women’s matches have not.
Those looking for a juicy glimpse into the feud that’s engrossed women’s tennis for years should know that the name “Serena” shows up more than 100 times in Sharapova’s book, including nine times in the prologue alone.
All signs point to Williams being Sharapova’s personal benchmark, idol, and frenemy and the standard that defines her career.
The next great tennis rivalry had arrived — or so many people thought.
However, Sharapova’s 2004 win at the WTA Tour Championships was the last time she won a professional match against Williams.