Maria Sharapova didn't take sides in Serena vs. Sloane, but says she's not out to make friends with her on-court rivals. (Daniel Maurer/AP)
Maria Sharapova extended her clay winning streak to 17 matches with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Alexandra Dulgheru in the first round of the Madrid Open on Monday. After the match, she was asked about one of the stories dominating the tennis headlines: Sloane Stephens' controversial comments (made in March) in ESPN The Magazine lashing out at Serena Williams for unfollowing her on Twitter, deleting her from BlackBerry Messenger and otherwise not speaking to her after Stephens beat her at the Australian Open.
While she seems to appreciate Stephens' willingness to speak out, Sharapova told Tennis Panorama News that she doesn't go out of her way to make friends in the locker room either. To paraphrase the the old adage: She's not here to make friends; she's here to win.
“I think everyone knows this is my job here. When I’m on the courts or when I’m on the court playing, I’m a competitor and I want to beat every single person whether they’re in the locker room or across the net.
“So I’m not the one to strike up a conversation about the weather and know that in the next few minutes I have to go and try to win a tennis match. I’m a pretty competitive girl. I say my hellos, but I’m not sending any players flowers as well.
“So it was nice to see that she spoke honestly about it. I think people have different perceptions of different athletes. It’s nice that someone spoke up about how they feel.”