| STANFORD, California, July 28
STANFORD, California, July 28 Serena Williams
and Maria Sharapova have never always seen eye-to-eye but when
they face off in the Stanford Classic quarter-finals on Friday,
they plan to keep any hostilities confined to the court.
While both maintain nothing less than victory would be a
satisfying outcome, Williams said that while it may appear to
the outside world that she dislikes her rival, it has never been
"I've never been against her or anyone else on this tour,"
the American told reporters after her 6-2 3-6 6-2 win over
Sharapova's Russian compatriot Maria Kirilenko.
"Just because I'm giving 200 percent and just because I'm
fighting and saying 'Come on', I think sometimes the media want
to make something out of nothing.
"I'm always saying 'hi' to everyone in the locker room, so I
leave it all out there on the court. For me, it's never been
anything personal or non-personal."
The pair have played each other eight times, with Williams
winning six and the Russian twice. Sharapova beat Williams in
the 2004 Wimbledon final but the American has won their last
Sharapova admits that while there is mutual respect between
them, differences remain on court.
"You both develop as people and players, and have great
moments as well as tough ones... but at the end of the day, she
has 13 grand slams and I have three," Sharapova said.
"TOUGH AND NEW"
The fifth ranked Sharapova is enjoying an impressive
mid-season, winning 17 of her last 19 matches, including a
three-set victory over Daniela Hantuchova in the opening round.
She won in Rome, reached the semi-finals at the French Open
and then the Wimbledon final, leading the player to believe the
radical changes she has made are finally paying dividends.
"I think I'm going in the right direction. I made some tough
choices in the last year and changes in my team... had to put a
lot of trust into situations which I was not quite comfortable
with in the beginning," Sharapova added.
"It was tough and new. Little-by-little, these decisions are
paying off," said the Russian, who switched from American coach
Michael Joyce to Swede Thomas Hogstedt at the beginning of 2011.
In a rare display of unity, the pair were recently pictured
together at the ESPY awards in Los Angeles with Williams saying
that she approached Sharapova because she was a familiar face
and because a famous teenage singer was making her nervous
"I was sitting close to Justin Beiber and I wanted to meet
him so bad," Williams said.
"I was too stupid and nervous to say anything and I saw
Maria and I was like 'yeah, somebody'. And I was like 'gosh, I
wish you were sitting next to me', it would have been a lot
While the two are willing to exchange light-hearted banter
off court, its unlikely they will be high-fiving on it and only
a victory will satisfy Williams, who admits that results are
always more important than satisfaction with performances.
"A lot of people say that (they don't mind losing if they
play well). I lie when I say that, just to lie," Williams said.
(Editing by John O'Brien; To comment on this story email
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