Serena Williams makes veiled dig at Maria Sharapova in open letter to her mother
The hostile and fractious relationship between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova on the court has been put on hold this season, but the simmering tensions between the two continue away from the game.
Williams gave birth to her first child, daughter Alexis, less than a month ago, and has shared images and videos documenting her pregnancy on her social media channels.
Now she has taken time to pen an emotional open letter to her mother, tennis coach Oracene Price, and has shared her feelings with the world.
In her Reddit post, the 23-times grand slam champion, reveals her thoughts on body image which, without mentioning names, could be a response to Sharapova's recent dig at her.
Dear Mom, You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter ) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body. I don't know how I would react if she has to go through what I've gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day.... Read the rest on my @Reddit profile. Link in bio.
In Sharapova's recently published memoir Unstoppable, she references Williams more than 100 times, with one comment remarking on the American's "thick arms and thick legs".
While Williams appears to respond to that remark, she also talks about performance-enhancing drugs, a possible nod to Sharapova's 15-month drugs ban.
It's very weird for me to believe I have a child... a KID. I'm a mom. A real MOM— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) September 18, 2017
"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage)," she wrote.
"It has been said I don't belong in women's sports — that I belong in men's — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it)."
She continued: "But mom, I'm not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman."
Williams' letter went on to say how she is proud to be a role model for unique women. "We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!"
Sharapova, who has not beaten Williams in competitive action since 2004, and holds a 2-19 record against her, had written in her memoir of facing the 35-year-old: "First of all, her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. … She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. And tall, really tall."
For the main part, Williams' letter shows a gratitude to her mother for being a strong and powerful role model. She reveals that she hopes to pass on the same message to her daughter.
"I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had.
"Promise me, Mom, that you will continue to help. I'm not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day. I love you dearly."