Seismic Serena-Sharapova duel looked inconceivable

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have been through a lot off the court since they last did battle at the 2016 Australian Open.

Former world number ones Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova   -  Getty Images

When Serena Williams announced she was pregnant last year it was highly conceivable that she would never do battle with fierce rival Maria Sharapova again.

Continuing her dominance over the Russian would have been the last thing on the 23-time grand slam singles champion's mind when she was going through such traumatic complications during and after giving birth to her first child.

Soon after Alexis Olympia was born, Sharapova stoked the fires in her new book by claiming Williams hated her for hearing her cry after beating her in the 2004 Wimbledon final.

She also wrote: "I heard that Serena told a friend, who then told me, 'I will never lose to that little [rhymes-with-witch] again.'"

Sharapova might have been wishing she had delayed her book release as Williams was overpowering Julia Goerges to set up a mouthwatering contest between the two old foes at the French Open. 

Roland Garros will be the place to be on Monday, when two former world number ones lock horns in what promises to be a titanic fourth-round tussle.

A showdown of such seismic proportions does not need any stirring up, but Williams took the opportunity to hit back at Sharapova after swatting Goerges aside.

Asked about what was written about her in the 31-year-old's book, Williams said: "So I was, like, this is really interesting. I didn't know she looked up to me that much or was so involved in my career."

Needing no encouragement to call Sharapova out, she added: "I think the book was 100 per cent hearsay, at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing.

"I have cried in the locker room many times after a loss, and that's what I have seen a lot of people do. I think it's normal. I think if anything, it shows the passion and the desire and the will that you have to want to go out there and do the best.

"It's a Wimbledon final, I think it would be more shocking if I wasn't in tears." 

While many may have thought the fierce competitors would never face each other again, they would certainly would never have expected to see a day when Williams is unseeded and Sharapova seeded 28.

Williams claims Sharapova will be the favourite despite having beaten her 19 times out of 21, both defeats coming way back in 2004.

Although Williams stated she has no negative feelings towards her fellow icon, that is unlikely to be evident when they go toe-to-toe in what promises to be a classic in Paris.

  Dugout videos