Fierce tennis rivals Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have appeared to put their famous feud behind them after happily posing for photos together at this year’s Met Gala.
They were just two of several tennis stars to attend the famous social event at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Williams attended with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, while Sharapova was there alongside her fiance Alexander Gilkes.
This year’s theme for the Met Gala is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Williams wore a star-spangled silver bodysuit and a floor-length pink cape, while Sharapova wore a gold gown.Sharapova has been enjoying the social scene in New York, after she was spotted attending the men’s US Open final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev on Monday (AEST).
Williams and Sharapova had a famously frosty rivalry during their careers and tennis fans were surprised to see the duo getting on well and interacting jovially behind the scenes at the Met Gala. Sharapova posted a photo to her Instagram story of her alongside Serena and sister Venus, who was also in attendance, accompanied by several raised hands emojis.
All three were smiling ear-to-ear and appeared to be having a great time.
Writer Nikhila Makker was gobsmacked by Sharapova and Williams’ appearance together, tweeting: “Is this real?”, while journalist Max Gao said of the photo: “I feel like I’m hallucinating. What in the world?!”
The unexpected public display appears to have put to bed one of the most famous rivalries in recent sporting history, which began when Sharapova defeated Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final to become the third-youngest female to win the title. However, the Russian-born star was outclassed by Williams throughout the rest of her career, losing the three other grand slam finals they contested.
Serena dominated their on-court rivalry, winning 20 out of their 22 meetings at tour level and enjoyed a 16-year, 19-match winning streak against Sharapova. Sharapova retired in early 2020 as a five-time grand slam champion and one of only six females to win all four majors. But the 34-year-old was admittedly jealous of Williams’ on-court success, despite amassing a huge fortune through sponsorships and endorsement deals throughout her own career.
In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Williams by name more than 100 times, while emphasising the pair are “not friends”.“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” she wrote about the aftermath of her 2004 Wimbledon victory.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.” “I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment. “But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”Williams has previously said she was bemused as to why so much of Sharapova’s book was devoted to her.
But after this latest public amicable appearance, it is safe to say the hatchet has been well and truly buried. Sharapova was rubbing shoulders with sporting royalty at the event, also posting an Instagram story with NBA star Russell Westbrook.Williams, a 23-time grand slam champion, was unable to compete at the US Open due to a serious hamstring injury she suffered at Wimbledon.
They weren’t the only tennis stars to attend the Met Gala, with 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens and four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka also making appearances. Osaka is a co-chair of this year’s Gala and certainly stood out as one of the hosts. Wearing a Louis Vuitton outfit featuring a colourful corsetted dress and what Vogue describes as a “silk-mix cape featuring 22 ruffles”, Osaka was impossible to miss. Her hair was just as spectacular, looking like it had grown wings and could fly away at any moment.