In a recent interview with Dan Schulman on his “Never Stand Still” podcast, Maria Sharapova admits that Serena Williams was by far her toughest opponent and states that the 40-year-old American still has fuel left in her tank.
Maria Sharapova on rivalry with Serena Williams
When asked who was her most intimidating opponent, the former world No.1 Sharapova didn’t think for a second before saying “Serena Williams” and emphasizing “by far”.
Serena was definitely the toughest competitor, the most challenging and the most consistent at her level.
Williams and Sharapova faced each other 22 times and the Russian won just twice, way back in 2004. Their last meeting was in the first round of the 2019 US Open, when Williams needed just 59 minutes to win 6-1 6-1.
In the interview, Sharapova mentioned that they recently saw each other at the Met Gala in New York. They were discussing how old they were and Serena said: “Oh, goodness, we are up there.” To which Sharapova replied: “Whoa, you still got it, girl!”
Monica Seles was another tough opponent
Another super tricky opponent Sharapova mentioned was Monica Seles. As a teen, in 2002, Sharapova played her and won just two games. The problem was that Sharapova was happy with her game in that match, she thought that she had played really well, but she got completely torn apart on the court.
Sharapova on her superior mental skills in tennis
Another interesting segment of the interview is when Sharapova explains how her mental attitude was always far superior to her actual tennis skills, so she was lucky that the head plays a greater part in tennis than your strokes:
I’m so glad that the sport required 80, or 70, whatever percentage it is of mentality, of the mind, instead of the physicality. Because I wouldn’t be at the level I was, because I was a much better mental athlete than I was physical, ever. I was talented, I definitely had good strokes, and good forehands, and decent power on my serve. […] But the majority of my victories were because of my mind.
We definitely encourage you to listen to the full 37-minute podcast. There’s always a lot to learn from Sharapova and get at least a touch of that energy, drive and focus that took her to the top of the world.
The five-time Grand Slam champion revisits her inspirational story of moving to the United States at a very young age and starting from nothing. The 34-year-old also explains how she understood very early that she would not be playing tennis forever, as she always wanted to have a family and be a mother, so she started investing and developing business projects, such as, for example, her Sugarpova chocolate company.