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Beware of flying barbs as Serena faces off with Sharapova

Beware of flying barbs as Serena faces off with Sharapova”

Waiting for Williams as she competes in a major tournament for the first time in 16 months - and since giving birth in September - will be a familiar foe, Maria Sharapova.

"For once, I have nothing to lose", 36-year-old Williams said after her 6-3, 6-4 victory over 11-seed Julia Goerges on Saturday.

Sharapova's Unstoppable: My Life So Far, released during her doping ban previous year, claimed Williams hated her following the Russian's surprise win at the Wimbledon final in 2004.

"Any time you play against Serena you know what you're up against", Sharapova said.

"It's been a while, and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us in very different ways", said the 31-year-old Sharapova.

"Everything that we have been able to achieve off the court, I have never really seen it as a competition", she said.

After the deluge of words that accompanied the most anticipated collision of this French Open there is a gathering conviction here that Maria Sharapova will emerge from her fourth-round match on Monday celebrating her first win over Serena Williams in 19 matches, leavened only by the obligatory nod of consolation.

Sharapova, who dominated with the return in her upset win over the big-serving Karolina Pliskova in the third round, taking first strike and not allowing her opponent to settle down, will have to replicate that effort against Williams.

"Coming back here to Court Philippe Chatrier where I won two years ago always brings special feelings inside me".

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Williams, the holder of 23 majors, has strung together an 18-match winning streak against the Russian dating back to 2005. Over the weekend, after they had advanced to a fourth-round French Open matchup against each other on Monday, Williams was asked about that book, the one written by Sharapova.

Serena Williams, the greatest women's tennis player of all time, has probably seen and heard it all from reporters looking for a fresh angle.

"I feel like a warrior wearing it, a queen from Wakanda [referring to the Black Panther movie] maybe", she said.

"The book was 100% hearsay - at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing". You know, I was, like, "oh, okay".

"I had a lot of problems with those - I don't know how many I have had in the past 12 months", she said.

"I'm inspired a lot by what she's been able to do, to continue". I think this is just one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here. She has shown flashes of brilliance but needed a first-set tiebreak against Kristyna Pliskova in Round 1 and dropped the first set to Ashleigh Barty in Round 2.

Sharapova's last win against Williams came in 2004.

Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time French Open finalist Simona Halep, two-time major-title victor Angelique Kerber and reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens. However, questions about Goerges' mentality, who has never been beyond the fourth round of a Slam, do remain.

-When you buy Tennis Channel Plus, your 12-month subscription gets you access to every ATP Masters 1000 tournament played outside the USA, and every round through the finals of WTA Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati.



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