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Serena apologises to Sharapova after spat

ESPN staff
June 23, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Serena Williams said she apologised to Maria Sharapova © Getty Images
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Serena Williams says she has apologised to Maria Sharapova after unkind comments reportedly made about the Russian were published in a recent magazine interview.

Sharapova hit out at Williams on Saturday, after the American was quoted in a Rolling Stone profile making barbed references about a fellow top-five player, believed to be the Russian, and her personal life in a private phone conversation with her sister Venus Williams.

Serena was quoted as saying to her sister: "She [Sharapova] begins every interview with 'I'm so happy. I'm so lucky' - it's so boring. She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy [Sharapova's boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov] with a black heart, go for it."

Sharapova subsequently hit back at Williams, saying that "if she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids".

That was interpreted as a reference to Williams' French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who the world No. 1 confirmed "meant a lot" to her professionally and personally without going any further into their relationship.

She did, however, reiterate her apology to Sharapova, accepting that the comments had been out of line whether or not they referred directly to the four-time grand slam champion.

"I made it a point to reach out to Maria. She was inadvertently brought into the situation by assumptions made by the reporter," Williams said. "I personally talked to Maria at the player party [on Thursday, in Kensington].

"I said, 'Look, I want to personally apologise to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation. I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I'm very sorry for this whole situation'."

She added: "We always have great conversations, so I believe that she definitely did accept it. I have the most respect for Maria on and off the court.

"I just feel like she was brought into the situation, inadvertently, a situation she never should have been brought into.

"I know she also said that I should definitely focus on the tennis here, and I feel like that is another thing I can definitely take her advice on.

"Maybe I wasn't focused enough in the past on tennis. I'm definitely going to try to focus on that for the next two weeks."

Williams did express her disappointment that the private conversation made it into the press, suggesting that she had become accustomed to a higher standard of personal ethics among tennis reporters.

But she admitted: "I've been in the business for a little over 20 years, so I should definitely, definitely know better. I should know better to always have my guard up."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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