“But it does open up an opportunity for Sharapova, who is now very dangerous.”
Sharapova’s team, including her agent Max Eisenbud, were in the players lounge leading to Roland Garros’s main Chatrier stadium when Williams walked into her news conference.
Sharapova she will have to wait for a chance to stop her losing streak against Williams, which dates back to 2004. She has won one set against Williams in the last 10 years and holds a 2-19 record overall.
“It’s very difficult, because I love playing Maria,” Williams said. “It’s just a match I always get up for. You know, it’s just her game matches so well against mine.”
Sharapova, seeded No. 28, has been in sparkling form this year at Roland Garros, where she has won two of her five Grand Slam singles titles.
She is now back into the quarterfinals, where she will face the winner of Monday’s fourth-round match between No. 3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, and the unseeded Lesia Tsurenko.
This is Sharapova’s first appearance at the French Open since 2015 because of her 15-month suspension for violating antidoping rules by using the banned substance meldonium. She returned to the circuit in April 2017 but was not granted a wild card into last year’s tournament by the French Open organizers.
Sharapova, 31, has struggled with injuries as she has returned to competition, but is back in the top 30 after changing her support team: rehiring her former coach Thomas Hogstedt and hiring a new physiotherapist who has changed many of her routines.