Given a chance to react directly to that swipe 24 hours later, Williams declined, saying: “I definitely was told of (Sharapova’s) comments. I definitely like to keep my personal life personal. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it.”
All in all, nothing tennis related has drawn nearly as much attention in the run-up to Wimbledon. That might change Monday, when play begins and four-time major champion Sharapova is among those scheduled to be on court, facing 37th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France. Also on the schedule: two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, and a matchup between up-and-coming Americans Sloane Stephens and Jamie Hampton.
The honor of the year’s first match on Centre Court goes to the defending men’s champion, Roger Federer.
“You feel very unique, clearly, because you are the one opening the court,” said Federer, who will be bidding for a record eighth Wimbledon championship. “I think it’s a big deal for, also, the players I’ve played, who got the ‘unluck’ or luck of the draw to play me in that first round.”
This time, the recipient of that “unluck” was Victor Hanescu of Romania, who’s never made it past the third round in seven previous Wimbledon appearances.
Others playing Monday include No. 2 Andy Murray, the runner-up a year ago; and No. 5 Rafael Nadal, whose 12 Grand Slam titles include two at Wimbledon. Federer could face Nadal in the quarterfinals, with the winner possibly meeting Murray in the semifinals.
“I’d rather Rafa and Roger were on the other side of the draw,” said Murray, aiming to give Britain its first male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, “but they’re not.”
No. 1 Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, is expected to have an easier path through other half of the field and won’t get started until Tuesday. That’s also when Williams is scheduled to play.