Williams says she’s sorry for remarks

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Williams says she’s sorry for remarks

LONDON - The next time Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova meet, it will likely be on a tennis court, with a net separating them - maybe even at Wimbledon, in the final, on the first Saturday in July.

“I think it’s great for women’s tennis when we play each other,” Williams said.

Until then, fans and non-fans alike can keep picking apart the unexpected trade of verbal jousts between two of the sport’s biggest stars - a back-and-forth that has turned the lead-up to Wimbledon into something much more than simple tennis talk.

The latest chapter came on the eve of the tournament, which starts Monday. Trying to set aside a number of awkward outcomes from a Rolling Stone profile of her posted online last week, Williams used her pre-tournament news conference Sunday to express her apologies.

- For comments that put both her and Sharapova’s love lives on center stage.

- For remarks she made about the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case.

- And, it seemed, every bit as much for letting the author of that story into her private world, thus turning the buildup to Wimbledon into a festival of dirty laundry that has the headline writers for the London tabloids drooling. (“This time it’s personal” and “I’m sorry, Maria!” were among the lines used.)

“It definitely hasn’t been easy,” the No. 1-ranked Williams said about the stir created by the magazine’s profile. “And I feel like I really wanted to say: I apologize for everything that was said in that article.”

Earlier in the week, Williams had issued a statement expressing regret for remarks about the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville case. On Sunday, she said she and the family “came to a wonderful understanding, and we’re constantly in contact.”

Also Sunday, Williams explained that she approached the No. 3-ranked Sharapova to try to smooth things over by extending an apology at a pre-tournament players’ party Thursday. The exchanges between the two can be traced to a passage where the story’s author surmised that something critical Williams said during a telephone conversation with her sister referred to Sharapova.

Williams said Sharapova accepted her apology. If that was the case, however, it sure didn’t show Saturday, when Sharapova delivered her own broadside during her news conference: “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.”

Asked to respond to that dig 24 hours later, Williams declined, saying: “I definitely was told of [Sharapova’s] comments. I definitely like to keep my personal life personal. AP
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