Maria Sharapova stopped by the ESPN broadcast booth during the first US Open women’s semifinal on Thursday night. And the five-time grand slam champion – who retired in 2020 – weighed in on the end of Serena Williams’ career.
“It was great to watch Serena’s run,” Sharapova said. “The glory, the gracious tenacity she carried through the end was very special.”
Sharapova, who had a lifetime record of 2-20 against Williams, said the pair of sometimes bitter rivals spoke about Serena’s legacy at the Met Gala last year. Williams was injured and did not play in the 2021 US Open.
“I was like, ‘No disrespect to this generation, but you’re so much better, you need to be out there,’” Sharapova recalled. “I’m glad she had a chance this year.”
The two last met at the 2019 US Open, where Williams beat Sharapova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
Williams, 40, lost in the third round to unseeded Ajla Tomljanović after announcing that this year’s US Open would be her last professional tournament. Williams, who was also unseeded, defeated second seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
In her announcement, the 23-time Grand Slam champion hinted that she wanted to grow her family. Williams married 39-year-old Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2016 and gave birth to their first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., who turns five this month in 2017.
Sharapova, 35, and her 43-year-old fiance, Alexander Gilkes, welcomed their first child, Theodore, in July.
“I call him Theo or T-Rex or – there are so many different little names for him,” she said. “It’s really the best. Everyone tells you that, but until you have a kid and really experience it and you’re sleepless — you’re like, OK, I’ve got this.”