Wimbledon 2013: Maria Sharapova plays the mixed-up doubles

She takes on Serena Williams in a battle of the (alleged) ex-boyfriends

Throw healthy and vigorous young sportsmen and women together and the consequences are inevitable. A long history of affaires de coeur in tennis has seen them end in tears (Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert) and in blissful happiness (Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf), but it has been a while since the sport has been alive with the talk currently surrounding some of its biggest names.

Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Grigor Dimitrov and Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, have been at the centre of a (rumoured) web of romantic relationships for several months. Until now not much of it had gone beyond idle gossip, but the scene was set yesterday for an old-style Wimbledon fortnight of kiss-and-tell tittle-tattle as Sharapova rose to the bait at her pre-tournament press conference.

When asked about some recent comments by Williams, who (allegedly) shares more than a passion for tennis with Mouratoglou, Sharapova said: "If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids."

For those not aware of the (rumoured) relationships – new readers need to start concentrating here – the story starts with Dimitrov, the talented young Bulgarian, and a (rumoured) affair with Williams.

Dimitrov was based at Mouratoglou's academy in Paris, where Williams started training last year. When Mouratoglou (allegedly) began seeing Williams, an (apparently) disgruntled Dimitrov left the academy.

For several months now Dimitrov, the world No 31, has been seeing Sharapova, who even attended – not even allegedly – one of his matches recently at Queen's Club. Mouratoglou, meanwhile, is said to be divorcing his wife, with whom he has two children.

The first sign of the (rumoured) triangles becoming a matter of public debate came with Williams' comments last week in a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone magazine. At first the focus was on the world No 1's controversial views on a teenage rape case in the United States – for which she subsequently apologised – but in the interview she also talked about a current top-five player who is in love.

"She begins every interview with 'I'm so happy, I'm so lucky'," Williams was reported to have told the magazine. "She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."

Rolling Stone speculated that this was a reference to Sharapova and her relationship with Dimitrov, one of Williams' (alleged) exes. Sharapova said yesterday that she had read the interview and was asked what she made of Williams' comments.

"Obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect for Serena and what she's achieved on the court," Sharapova said. "You can never take anything away from that. I was definitely sad to hear what she had to say about the whole case.

"As for myself, or whether it was about somebody else, nothing personal, you know. We've talked to Serena many times, and I know everyone tries to create rivalries between us here and there. At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court.

"I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that's just getting attention and controversy."

Sharapova added: "Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that's what it should be about."

Look out for another instalment of tales from the locker room when Williams (allegedly) talks to the media this afternoon. This one could run and run all the way to the final on Saturday week, which could see Williams facing Sharapova.

Love games for Watson

Nick Bollettieri thinks Heather Watson can be too nice for her own good, but the 21-year-old could never be like those top women who refuse even to acknowledge other players.

"The top three or four won't talk to anybody," Watson said. "Victoria Azarenka says hello, but the others, no. They make an effort not to. It's not that they're mean. They don't want to give anything, no weakness. I don't see it as a weakness. When you play a match and they don't talk to you, fine. But off the court we're still humans."

The world No 57 could not be like that. "It would be difficult," she said. "I've tried a few times, to be like 'I'm not talking to you'. But I can't. It's not me. You need to be ruthless, but you don't need to blank everybody."

Watson is based at Bollettieri's academy in Florida. "He tells me, 'You're too nice, you cannot be like this. Don't talk to anybody. I don't want you socialising. You've gotta be mean.' I've tried but it didn't work. But I make sure I'm mean on court."

Paul Newman

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee