You have to go all the way back to the Athens Games – yes, those held in 2004 – to find a calendar year when Maria Sharapova has beaten Serena Williams in a tennis match.
The Russian star, who burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old winning Wimbledon amid the pre-recession glory days, hasn’t beaten Serena, whom she took down for her first title, since November 2004 at the WTA Championships. It’s a streak of twelve straight matches for the American, including the London Olympics final last summer.
It was there that Serena issued the most rounding defeat of her lanky opponent, relenting just one game (6-0, 6-1) in the gold medal match less than a year ago. Saturday’s French Open Final at Roland Garros will mark the first time they’ve met in a major final since London.
Sharapova, now 26, would like nothing more than to finally exact some revenge on her 31-year-old nemesis, who hasn’t lost a single Pro Tour match since February – 29 and counting.
But Maria says her 2-13 overall record vs. Serena is looming in the back of her mind. How could it not?
“I would be lying if I didn’t say it bothered me,” Sharapova told the press Thursday in Paris. “You know, of course I have lost to her numerous amounts of times. When I go out there, I obviously — whatever I have done, like I said in the past, has not worked. You try to go out there and do something different because whatever you have done just hasn’t performed well. I hope that I can.”
Does Serena want a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing? Going one better? She certainly tried at the Olympics.
“That would have been awesome only because against Maria, if you give her any hope, she’s trying to come back,” Serena said after her gold medal performance. “It was important for me to go out there and do everything I could to win.”
It might depend on who’s hungrier: For Serena, she’s chasing her first Roland Garros crown since 2002. And Maria? She’s the defending champion on the red dirt of Paris.
“But going into a French Open final, [our record] doesn’t matter,” Sharapova mused. “It all starts from zero. You’ve got to play until the last point, and, you know, believe in yourself.”