Serena Williams blasted Maria Sharapova off the court at Wimbledon to take a step closer to the 'Serena Slam' and make it 17 wins a row against the Russian, calling into question claims that the two players share what could be termed a "rivalry".
Sharapova clearly found her latest beating galling and afterwards aimed a bad-tempered swipe at her hosts, claiming that making the semi-finals would be "incredible" only if she was British.
"I'd be on the front page of the paper," she said. "But I expect myself to be a champion of these events, and it's disappointing to come out as a loser because I know my level can be at the point of holding these championship trophies."
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Not everyone agrees, however. "The truth is, the Russian's level was nowhere sufficient to hold up the trophy here," says Jim White of the Daily Telegraph. "Had she not taken so long lingering over her serve, had she not loitered in the repetitive compulsive tics of her little dances, the endless bouncing of the ball before she finally hits it, she would have been back in the locker room in under an hour.
"As feuds go, this was so one-sided; it was less a competition than a procession."
Since 2004 Sharapova has won only three sets in 17 meetings between the two players. "Williams gives the impression she would happily play her morning, noon and night," says Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian. "It is the rivalry that isn't. It's a serial nightmare for the Russian, an opportunity for Williams to show who is, by a distance, the finest player in women’s tennis since Steffi Graf.
"Sharapova, the highest-earning female athlete in the world, loses to Williams whether she plays well or not, and she was rarely more than a bystander as the world No 1 took her apart in front of a lightly baked audience as embarrassed as they were unsurprised."
Next up for Williams is Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in Saturday's final. As for Sharapova, perhaps she should work on her animal impressions.
Matthew Syed of The Times clearly has maritime ornithology on his mind this week. On Thursday he compared Andy Murray to a herring gull eating a crab, and the analogy makes a reappearance after Sharapova's exit.
"Her shriek sounded plaintive," he writes. "Like a seagull unsure of where the next meal was coming from."
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