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Sharapova was seeded 13th, and it seemed like she was still a couple of years away from a breakthrough win.
But she made her way through the draw, notching a comeback win in the semifinals after being a set down against American Lindsay Davenport, who was seeded fifth.
From 2002 to 2003, when Sharapova was just coming onto the scene, that player was Serena Williams.
She isn’t afraid to take jabs at her opponents and sprinkle her post-match interviews with tantalizing amounts of shade.
Instead, what Sharapova and Williams have is a feud.
And it’s a feud that has captivated tennis fans and sportswriters even when the women’s matches have not.
When any player displays the kind of dominance that Williams did, they tend to evolve the overall narrative of tennis.
While sportswriters and fans inevitably exalt the player’s dominance and measure them against the greatest players in history, those same sportswriters and fans also exhibit an antsy urge to find the greatest player: the up-and-comer who can challenge — and even beat — the sport’s current leader.