SERENA Williams thought she had put the lid on the prospect of a Wimbledon feud with Maria Sharapova when they held face-to-face talks at the pre-tournament party.
But yesterday Williams was driven to publicly repeat an apology and attempted to defuse their sparky conflict, which became apparent after Sharapova, still incensed by words from the world number one in a magazine article, returned fire.
Williams, in a Rolling Stone magazine feature, was quoted as taking a swipe at a rival player while in conversation with sister Venus. Sharapova believed Williams was talking about her, as the article's author speculated.
In the magazine, Williams said of the unnamed player: "She begins every interview with 'I'm so happy. I'm so lucky' – it's so boring. 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."
The latter reference has been widely taken to be aimed at Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian player who is dating Sharapova and had previously been close to Williams.
Serena explained the two most celebrated players in women's tennis discussed the Rolling Stone article when attending Thursday night's WTA Tour party in Kensington.
"I personally talked to Maria at the player party," said Williams. "I said, 'Look, I want to personally apologise to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation. I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I'm very sorry for this whole situation'.
"I just feel like she was brought into the situation, inadvertently, a situation she never should have been brought into."