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The lop-sided record, perhaps, reveals a ‘mental block’ on the part of Sharapova, which she has written about in a recently released book — Sharapova, mind you, is no ordinary player. 1 and has won five grand slam singles titles; the French Open twice and the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, once each.
She was named one of the ’30 Legends of Women’s Tennis’ by .
The same sort of vulnerability perhaps pervades Maria Sharapova’s game and psyche when she plays her nemesis, Serena Williams.
Of the 21 times they have played each other, the 30-year-old Russian has lost a mind-boggling 19 times.
At the end of the 20 century, there were the epic battles that Pete ‘the pistol’ Sampras fought with Courier, Becker, Agassi, Rafter and others.
Roger Federer took over from where Sampras left to dominate the first decade of the new millennium along with Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick.
Another star player, Pam Shriver — who played both Evert and Navratilova in dozens of matches — believes that if women’s tennis is what it is today, it is because of the 20 straight years of intense, serious rivalries.
In the men’s game there have been a large number of rivalries that have helped the game grow and prosper.
A Virat Kohli versus Steve Smith or a Messi versus Ronaldo match-up isn’t as intensive or high-stakes as a Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal battle. In one tense Borg-Mc Enroe match, the latter was throwing tantrums after every point, when the Swede called him to the net, hugged him and said, “Relax, John! Let’s enjoy it.” That was respect for each other’s game too.
It’s not the rivalries — either with Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki or Garbine Muguruza. The French Open, Wimbledon and US Open women’s events have thrown up surprise winners this year in Serena’s absence.