Effective but unspectacular in her third-round victory, Sharapova reached the second week of a Slam for just the second time in her comeback from shoulder surgery and extended an encouraging passage of play that began with her Strasbourg title in May. Compiling a 14-3 record since her return from elbow injury, Maria now confronts a monumental challenge in world #1, top seed, defending champion, and twelve-time Slam champion Serena Williams. Six years ago, they clashed on these fabled lawns in the ladies’ final, which unexpectedly proved the spark that launched Sharapova’s sensational career as the world’s highest-earning and arguably most recognizable female athlete. Since that fateful Saturday in July, however, the American has regained the advantage with a nerve-jangling victory at an Australian Open semifinal and two lopsided 2007 wins during a period when the Russian’s shoulder injury severely undermined her game. Consequently, what once had seemed likely to become a leading rivalry in women’s tennis evolved into no rivalry at all, as Sharapova wryly reminded the media during her postmatch press conference on Saturday. We explain below why this narrative has unfolded.
Click here to read our extensive preview of Sharapova-Serena, Henin-Clijsters, Querrey-Murray, Djokovic-Hewitt, and all of the other exciting matches on Manic Monday at Wimbledon!