The U.S. Open begins on Monday, August 26 in New York City, and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced the men’s and women’s draw yesterday. For the first time at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams will play Maria Sharapova.
Why does this matter?
Williams is arguably the greatest tennis player, man or woman, of all time. Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion in her own right, is one of only 10 women (including Williams) to have won the career Grand Slam.
Oh, and they also have a history of being extra competitive with each other. To put it mildly…
Williams and Sharapova are at different stages of their lives and careers now.
Williams is trying to win that elusive 24th Grand Slam title (a U.S. Open victory would be her first major title since 2017 and the birth of her daughter and her first U.S. Open title since 2014), and Sharapova has been struggling with injuries and regaining peak form.
What many thought would become a rivalry back in 2004 after the Wimbledon Final, which Sharapova won when she beat Williams (the defending champion) in straight sets, was anything but.
The two women have faced each other 20 times since the ‘04 Wimbledon Final, with Williams holding a commanding 18-2 edge.
In fact, Williams has not technically been beaten by Sharapova since the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.
Yes, Sharapova was awarded a win against Williams in the 2018 French Open round of 16. But that was a walkover. Williams pulled out before the match began with an injury.
Lifetime, Williams is 19-3 against Sharapova.
For all their off-court “back and forth,” this has never been a rivalry.
But two big personalities and their history make this exciting for tennis fans — and sports fans at large.
The fact that this is the first time they are meeting at the U.S. Open, with all their combined years on tour, is rather remarkable.
Too bad it will be in the first round.
Still, social media never passes on an opportunity to weigh in on Serena and Maria.
Serena Williams will face Maria Sharapova in round 1 of the US Open.— 👑 DaddyMo 👑 (@therealdaddymo1) August 23, 2019
We all know how that’s going to end.
Never forget Sharapova got busted with some hardcore roids and still couldn't beat Serena https://t.co/nXJFiTvs6D— Duke Caboom (@ElEpicoRu) August 22, 2019
Serena facing Sharapova in the first round of the US Open is all I’m looking forward to next week— Steven Herrera (@steven_actually) August 23, 2019
Serena has beaten Sharapova 19 times and lost 3 times. Can we PLEASE stop calling it a rivalry.— Nate (@matenendez) August 23, 2019
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images