Maria Sharapova dropped by the ESPN broadcast booth during the first U.S. Open women’s semifinal on Thursday night. And the five-time grand slam champion — who retired in 2020 — weighed in on the end of Serena Williams’s career.
“It was amazing to see Serena’s run,” Sharapova said. “The glory, the gracious tenacity she carried through the end was very special.”
Sharapova, who had a 2-20 lifetime record against Williams, said the pair of sometimes-bitter rivals talked about Serena’s legacy at the Met Gala last year. Williams was injured and did not play in the U.S. Open in 2021.
“I was like, ‘No disrespect to this generation, but you are so much better, you need to be out there,’” Sharapova recalled. “I’m glad she had a chance this year.”
The two last faced off in the 2019 U.S. Open, where Williams beat Sharapova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
Williams, 40, lost in the third round to unseeded Ajla Tomljanović after announcing that this year’s U.S. Open would be her last professional tournament. Williams, who was also unseeded, defeated second-seeded Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
In her announcement, the 23-time Grand Slam champion hinted that she wanted to grow her family. Williams married 39-year-old Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2016 and gave birth to their first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., who turns five this month, in 2017.
Sharapova, 35, and her 43-year-old fiancé, Alexander Gilkes, welcomed their first child, Theodore, in July.
“I call him Theo, or T-Rex, or — there are so many different little names for him,” she said. “It is really the best. Everyone tells you, but until you have a child and really experience it, and you’re sleepless — you’re like, OK, I’ve got this.”