Later today (12:15 GMT), Serena Williams will play Maria Sharapova in the French Open tennis tournament in the Round of 16. Though Williams has long overshadowed her rival in their previous encounters, winning nineteen of their twenty-one matches head-to-head, both players have undergone significant changes in their lives in recent years. Who will come out the winner of this, not-quite-straightforward rivalry? Don’t forget to tune in and find out. But first, a few details to set up this imminent clash between two powerhouses of modern tennis.
Maria Sharapova is on a comeback after serving a doping ban sentence for testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium, and also being overlooked for last year’s French Open by obviously miffed sponsors and tournament organizers. On a more positive note for her, Sharapova has shown moderate success coming into this year’s French Open tournament, and pushing ahead to this upcoming match against Williams. However, veteran commentators have pointed out that while she has seemed to improve her game, her mental state at losing the last eighteen matches that she has played against Williams could be the one thing that undoes her current winning streak.
Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, back in October, 2017, and has since then purposefully slowed down her career to accommodate this life change. When asked about her upcoming match against Sharapova, a cool Williams insinuated that it was quite possible that her opponent could defeat her. According to Williams, her current focus is to get herself back into a groove that she is comfortable with, and then see where she can go from there. We wish both tennis superstars the very best of luck.
UPDATE: Serena Williams retired hurt minutes before the game, handing Maria Sharapova the walkover win.