WIMBLEDON, England – Serena Williams told a crowd of assembled news media on Sunday that she would like to keep her private life private.
Meaning she would rather not comment on pointed remarks Maria Sharapova made in her pre-Wimbledon news conference on Saturday.
“I definitely like to keep my personal life personal,” she said. “I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it.”
Williams said she apologized to Sharapova at the players party Thursday night for comments made in a Rolling Stone article that appeared last week.
Williams said she believed her apology was accepted, even though it came two days before Sharapova’s press conference.
And, Williams said, she would love to face off with Sharapova in the Wimbledon final in two weeks.
“I think everybody would like to see that,” she said.
On Saturday, Sharapova was uncharacteristically blunt in speaking about Williams.
“At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy,” Sharapova said.
“If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids,” Sharapova continued. “Talk about other things but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.”
Williams has been linked to coach Patrick Mouratoglou, but neither has confirmed their relationship extends beyond the court. When Mouratoglou was asked about the topic at the French Open this month, he smiled and replied: “Sorry. I don’t understand the question.”
According to the Rolling Stone story, posted online Tuesday, Williams spoke in a phone call with sister Venus, overheard by the reporter, Stephen Rodrick. He described the subject as “a top-five player who is now in love.”
Williams is quoted as saying: “She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’ – it’s so boring. She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.”
That is followed by these words in parentheses from Rodrick: “An educated guess is she’s talking about Sharapova, who is now dating Grigor Dimitrov, one of Serena’s rumored exes.”
Williams said she wanted to reach out immediately to Sharapova.
“I made it a point to reach out to Maria, because she was inadvertently brought into the situation by assumptions made by the reporter,” Williams said.
Williams suggested she was caught off guard by the inclusion of her “private” phone call in the article.
“With that being said, I’ve been in the business for a little over 200 years, so I should definitely, definitely know better,” she said with a laugh. “I should know better to always have my guard up.”
She also addressed the explosive comments made about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, in which she appeared to be criticizing the victim.
Williams said she immediately reached out to the family of the victim.
“I take full responsibility,” Williams said. “I definitely wanted to apologize to the family. They’ve been through so much. In talking to them and learning the whole story, you just learn how strong the young girl is, how strong she’s been able to make me through this process, which I think is incredible.”
The controversy, Williams admits, might even bring a bit more attention to tennis, which is what she hopes to focus on now. On that, she and Sharapova agree.
“I know she also said that I should definitely focus on the tennis here, and I feel like that is another thing I can definitely take her advice on,” Williams said.
“There’s one thing I’m really good at, and that’s hitting the ball over a net in a box,” Williams said. “I’m excellent on that. And that’s what I’m going to continue to do while I can.”
Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. But Williams has won their last 13 matches, including in the French Open final two weeks ago.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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