A horde of Serena Williams fans went volcanic after Nike called Maria Sharapova “one of the greatest competitors in the history of the sport” upon her retirement announcement on Feb. 26, 2020.
Sharapova, 32, hung up her tennis racket after winning five Grand Slam tennis titles, including a victory over Williams at age 17. She is one of only a few women in the history of Women’s Tennis Association to ever complete the career Grand Slam, which is winning all of the four major tennis tournaments: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
However, many Williams fans clapped back at Nike and other publications who exalt Sharapova to all-time status for several reasons. They do not believe she belongs among the pantheon of tennis legends.
For one, Williams boasts 23 Grand Slam titles, leaving Sharapova in her rearview mirror by a mile. Secondly, Sharapova lost 17 straight times to Williams over the last 15 years of her career and wound up with a 2-20 overall record against her greatest adversary.
Third, tennis fans are outraged that Sharapova is being lauded as a great champion after being caught using illegal drugs and was suspended for two years from the WTA. This calls into question the legitimacy of her major title wins.
Therefore, the cacophony of outrage expressed by many tennis fans regarding Sharapova can be crystallized by this one tweet:
She was average at best lol pic.twitter.com/4K5vlFTjPS
— Fidel (@IRRELEVANT2LIFE) February 26, 2020
To those Serena fans, it seems to matter little about Sharapova’s remarkable journey from speaking no English when her father had to borrow money to fly to the U.S. to get elite tennis training. They have blocked out the fact that her mother couldn’t join Sharapova and her father for two years due to visa issues.
Most fans of Serena — she is mostly referred to by her first name — remember the subtle racist jabs Sharapova threw at Serena for being a big and intimidating presence and justifying that’s why she could never beat Serena, especially as outlined in her book Unstoppable: My LIfe So Far
And on the day many world publications celebrate Sharapova as she leaves the game, Serena fans took delight in mocking and denouncing her as one of the all-time greats.
Check out a sampling of the Twitter hate on the next page: