Sharapova sideswipe at Williams over controversial remarks

Maria Sharapova has taken a dim view of apparent references to her made by arch-rival Serena Williams.

Story highlights

  • Maria Sharapova hits out at World No.1 Serena Williams
  • Russian says American should stop courting controversy
  • Irked by apparent reference to her in article in Rolling Stone magazine
  • Elena Vesnina takes Eastbourne title beating Jamie Hampton of United States

Maria Sharapova took aim at arch-rival Serena Williams Saturday as she told the World No.1 to stick to tennis rather than courting controversy.

Earlier this week, Williams had to apologize for comments she made to Rolling Stone magazine over the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school American football players in Ohio.

Eyebrows were also raised in the same article over a passage which appeared to reference Sharapova.

It accused an unnamed player of being "boring" and made unflattering remarks about her choice of boyfriend. Sharapova is dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigo Dimitrov.

Sharapova, the third seed at Wimbledon and bidding for her first title at SW19 since 2004, used the pre-tournament media conference to hit back.

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"We have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that's just getting attention and controversy,' the Russian was quoted by the UK's Press Association.

"If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.

"(She should) talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that's what it should be about."

16-time grand slam winner Williams is reportedly in a relationship with her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, but neither has spoken publicly about it.

She has won three of last four grand slams under his guidance, the latest at the French Open where she beat defending champion Sharapova in a hard-fought final in Paris.

On Tuesday, Williams came under fire, particularly on Twitter and other social media, when her reported remarks to Rolling Stone about the rape were made public on its website.

Read: 16th grand slam for Serena Williams

"She's 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn't remember? It could have been much worse. She's lucky. Obviously, I don't know, maybe she wasn't a virgin, but she shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different," she was quoted.

The following day, Williams released a statement on her personal website, saying she was "deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written -- what I supposedly said -- is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame," it said.

Sharapova said Williams would do well to steer clear of such issues. "I obviously have many opinions about different things in life," she said.

"But what I do on the court and what I talk about in my press conference is strictly about my career. I'm sure people want to know more, but yet I try to keep my personal life private.

"If I speak to my friends, that's one thing. But I don't go out and try to create things that shouldn't be really talked about."

Meanwhile, in the pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Eastbourne, Sharapova's compatriot Elena Vesnina took the title, beating Jamie Hampton of the United States in the final.

Simona Halep of Romania also warmed up by taking the title in s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands with a straight sets win over Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, renowned for his world record marathon match with John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010, took his maiden ATP title at the same event.

He beat favorite Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, also in straight sets.

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