Thursday January 29th, 2015

Here are the five most important moments of the Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova rivalry:

1. Sharapova rolls past Serena 6-1, 6-4 to win her first major title at Wimbledon.


If Twitter existed in 2004, Serena's famous "I made you" tweet would have been apropos after this surprising loss to a 17-year old Sharapova in the Wimbledon final. Serena, 23, was looking to win her third-straight Wimbledon title. She came out nervous and Sharapova, ranked No. 17, snagged the first set in a quick 30 minutes before holding her nerve to battle back from a break down in the second to win in a lightning fast 73 minutes.

"I don't know what happened," Serena said after the match. "I didn't play great and I didn't win."

"I have to take this trophy from you for one year," a giggly Sharapova said to Serena during the trophy ceremony. "I'm sorry. I'm sure we're going to be here one more time and hopefully many more times in other Grand Slams and fight for the trophy."

You can watch the full match here.

2. Sharapova follows up her Wimbledon win with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win at the 2004 WTA Finals.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images

As if she needed to prove her Wimbledon win wasn't a fluke, Sharapova backed it up by beating an injured Serena at the WTA Finals to end her breakout 2004 season. Sharapova was seeded No. 7, one spot ahead of Serena. When asked whether the Wimbledon final would play on her mind when she faced the 17-year-old again, Serena said, "I don't believe I played the Wimbledon final. I don't know who it was but that was someone else. I wasn't at Wimbledon this year."

Serena started strong to take the first set but aggravated an abdominal injury in the second. By the time the third set rolled around she was rolling in the softest serves you've ever seen off her racket, but with some big swinging she built a 4-0 lead anyway in the final frame. Initially thrown off by the 70 mph serves coming her way, Sharapova finally got her bearings to reel off six straight games to win the match. 

Spoiler alert: This would be the last time Sharapova beat Serena. You can get all of the details and watch highlights of the match here.

3. Serena comes back to beat Sharapova 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 in the semifinals of the 2005 Australian Open. 


This is the match that turned the Sharapova-Serena rivalry on its head. Sharapova came into the match with a 2-1 record against Serena, having beaten her twice in 2004 at Wimbledon and the WTA Finals later that year. On this occasion, Serena saved three match points and battled back from a set and 5-4 down to upend the Russian and even out their rivalry. 

Sharapova looked to have the match in control after racing to a 6-2 lead and served for the match at 5-4. She lost three straight games to lose the second set. Again, in a match where sustained momentum was elusive, Sharapova served for the match and had three match points at 5-4 in the third set only to see Serena fire some massive returns to break her and eventually finish the comeback. She went on to defeat top-seed Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the final to win her second Australian Open title. 

4. Serena dominates Sharapova in the gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics, 6-0, 6-1.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This was the definition of a beat-down. In the most lopsided women's final in Olympic history, Serena completed one of the most dominant stretches of her career by knocking off No. 3 seeded Sharapova in just 45 minutes on Centre Court at the All England Club. Serena was coming off her fifth Wimbledon title just weeks before and she lost just 17 games in six matches to win her first singles gold medal and complete the Career Golden Slam. She rendered Sharapova a complete spectator as she fired 10 aces and 24 winners.

"Against Maria, if you give her any hope, she's trying to come back," Serena said. "She won that one game and I could see her pumping her fist and I was like 'Oh boy, here she comes.'" The comeback never came, and Serena celebrated the win by doing the crip-walk on Wimbledon's hallowed ground. 

5. Serena defeats Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in the 2013 French Open final.


This was a great match. It was also another straight set loss for the defending champion Sharapova. It had been over a decade since Serena last conquered the clay at Roland Garros, but she was able to capture her second French Open title by once against overpowering and out-defending Sharapova. The thought going into the match was that this was Sharapova's best chance to snap her 12-match losing streak to Serena. Sharapova had morphed into "Claypova,” playing her best tennis on the dirt. Despite her 30-match win streak, clay remained Serena's worst surface. None of it mattered.

Serena fired 10 aces and hit 29 winners in the spirited affair. Sharapova earned an early break only to get broken right back, but was able to reel Serena back in after the American broke again for a 4-2 lead. But the match-up problem for Sharapova remained evident. She struggled to hold her serve against Serena and was broken again and lost the first set 6-4. The second set was cleaner from Sharapova, but after giving up an early break she was never able to break back and Serena went on to win the title.

No. 1 Serena, No. 2 Sharapova set to clash, revive rivalry in AusOpen final

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