London: Maria Sharapova will step out on Centre Court aiming to block out over a decade of terrible punishment at the hands of Serena Williams when they clash in the Wimbledon semi-finals. The last time the Russian beat her greatest foe, she was too young to buy a drink to toast the achievement.
Now, at the age of 28, Sharapova can reminisce about how she got the better of the American 20-time Grand Slam winner twice in 2004, when she took the scalp of Williams in the finals of Wimbledon and the WTA Tour Championships. But she knows those matches will be an irrelevance once she and 33-year-old Williams hit the first balls in anger today. “There are definitely no secrets between each other’s games,” Sharapova said. “But I haven’t played Serena here in 11 years. It will be an incredible moment for me to step out on Centre Court against her again.”
Curiously, Sharapova appears to have blanked from her memory two matches the pair have since played at the All England Club. Ever since 2004 Williams has dropped just three sets in winning 16 consecutive contests.
“I think it’s always a new match,” Sharapova said. “I haven’t had great success against her. I would love to change that around. That’s how I look at it.”
Asked about the Wimbledon final 11 years ago, and its relevance to their next encounter, Sharapova said: “I think if I would be replaying it in my mind I wouldn’t be focused on trying to win my match or trying to beat my opponent that’s in front of me. When I walk out on the court, I look around, I see the spectators, I see the new roof which wasn’t there when I won, you really feel that special feeling. I’ll have it for the rest of my life.”