Serena beats Sharapova 17 times in a row

Thirty-five years after Vitas Gerulaitis famously exclaimed that nobody beats him 17 times in a row, Maria Sharapova now knows how the flamboyant American felt.

Gerulaitis was celebrating ending his eight-year, 16-match losing streak to Jimmy Connors when he finally turned the tables on his nemesis in Madison Square Garden in 1980, a feat which allowed him to issue his famous tongue-in-cheek public cry of defiance.

Unfortunately for Sharapova, there appears no end in sight to her record of failure against Williams.

Thursday’s 6-2 6-4 loss to the world No.1 in the Wimbledon semi-finals was her 17th in succession and 18th overall at the hands of the American.

The Russian’s only two wins came way back in 2004, one in the Wimbledon final and the other in the end-of-year championships.

Since then, Williams has won all the on-court skirmishes and most of the off-court disputes.

In her run of 17 straight losses, Sharapova has only stretched her rival to three sets on three occasions.

While Williams chases a sixth Wimbledon title and 21st grand slam crown in her 25th final at the majors on Saturday, Sharapova remains stuck on five slam trophies, a meagre return on her talents.

When asked in the aftermath of her latest loss to her bitter rival, a sixth successive straight-sets defeat, what she needed to do to end her Williams jinx, the 28-year-old was stumped.

“A lot more than I’m doing,” was her response.

If it’s any consolation, all of the top players suffer similar indignities when Williams brings out the heavy artillery.

The 33-year-old boasts a 16-3 record over Victoria Azarenka, 10-1 against Caroline Wozniacki and 5-1 when facing Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep.

Kvitova is the only player to beat Williams in 2015 as the American has built up a 38-1 head of steam.

Even her closest rivals of the last decade ended their careers in the debit column – Justine Henin was 6-8 and Kim Clijsters 2-7.

“I think when she plays against me, she certainly does take you out of your game,” said Sharapova.

“That’s why she’s in the position she’s in. I don’t think it’s a secret. I think she knows against certain players she needs to bring out her best.

“The way that she plays Azarenka, myself, maybe a few others, she has to bring it on the line.

“We’re not able to do that as consistently as she does.”

But Sharapova says she won’t resort to panic measures in her quest to overcome Williams, who can achieve the “Serena Slam” of holding all four majors at the same time if she beats Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s final.

A win would also leave the American with a 21st major and just the US Open to defend in September to clinch the first calendar-year grand slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.

“I’m not going to come out and become a serve-and-volleyer or a chip-and-charge type of player. No, you’re not going to see that from me,” said Sharapova.

Sharapova and Serena’s rivalry is the most closely examined in the sport and not always for what happens on court.

Their spat from two years back when they exchanged barbs over their private lives got another post-match airing on Thursday.

Serena’s coach and boyfriend Patrick Mouratoglou had reportedly said that Azarenka was a better player than the Russian.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to hear nice words from him about me,” sharapova said.

“I don’t expect that and I’m sure you don’t either.”

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