Sandra Harwitt, special for USA TODAY Sports
Published 10:13 a.m. ET June 29, 2018 | Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET June 29, 2018
In a photo file of 2015, Serena Williams celebrates on the net after winning a semifinal match against Maria Sharapova during the Championship of Wimbledon tennis at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. (Photo: Clive Brunskill, Getty Images)
It's no secret that three of Wimbledon's most popular female seeds – ninth seed Venus Williams, No. 24 seed Maria Sharapova and No. 25 seeder. Serena Williams – they would hardly clbadify themselves as besties.
All immensely successful, they show very different approaches and perspectives on life, which has kept things interesting for fans and explains why the sisters have not joined as colleagues with Maria.
However, a similar fact about the three is indisputable: for more than a decade the stars of 30 and over have dominated female tennis players on and off the court. No other player, even those who became Grand Slam champions in this era, have established themselves in the game of fame along with the trio.
Another connection that they surprisingly share is that during their formative years the three spent quality time molded into future champions by Nick Bollettieri. With reason, considered one of the most influential coaches of the Open era, Bollettieri introduced the concept of tennis academy in the game.
Bollettieri, 86, is the subject of a new Showtime documentary "Love Means Zero", in which he portrays himself in an honest and crude way that does not always favor, but has his full support.
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As the documentary emphasizes, Bollettieri was much more interested in raising his personal profile by creating champions than in making money. And it did not take him long to see that Serena, Venus and Maria were students full of stars. The Williams sisters trained at the academy in Bradenton, Florida, occasionally, while Sharapova joined the Bollettieri Academy full-time at 9
"My relationship with Venus, Serena and Maria, holy mackerel, were different." Bollettieri said, by telephone in a recent interview. "Maria Sharapova, you had to kill her to hit her." In her mind, nothing was over.
"Serena and Venus were taught by their dad to control the game, go for it, and that's how they did it," she said. and Venus started working with the academy at about 9 and 10 respectively. "Her dad taught them how to run for each ball and girls sometimes said:" Daddy, the ball is far away ", and he said : & # 39; Serena, Venus, no ball & # 39; "
Venus Williams (left) and Serena Williams share a moment during their doubles match against Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez during the French Open of 2018 at Roland Garros on June 3. (Photo: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports)
The three of them were shown the way to tennis His parents said that, Richard Williams had a very different idea of how to make a champion for Yuri Sharapov
"When Richard took the girls to the academy, he told me they were going to be the next Michael Jordan," Bollettieri said. "I said, Richard, what do you want me to do?" He said: "Mr. Bollettieri, if I had to tell you what to do, I would not be here, so I'll have my free breakfast." , and it would go away. I just did not want them to play sets or games until they were 14 years old. And when the girls left the tennis court, they were not allowed to talk about tennis at all. He stayed on the tennis court. "
Bollettieri jokes about Sharapov's behavior on the court.
" When Yuri arrived, I thought he was the taxpayer, "Bollettieri said, laughing. book and I said: & # 39; What the hell is this? & # 39; Maria was a business, she would think it was you or me, and that's what she did to Maria. His will to win, and it does not end until it's over, that's how Maria was and how she is today. She did her lesson, picked up her things and Boom, dad and her left. Without social life or anything. "
Bollettieri has never chopped words or made politically correct decisions: he openly favored Andre Agbadi to his fellow student Jim Courier, which is a central theme of the Showtime documentary, and admits to looking at the big picture that I felt that Serena and Venus had more to show than Sharapova.
"I saw probably more on Venus and Serena, their construction, they were strong," he said. "With Maria, she was thin as a railing. After a while, Serena started to pull away. She had a very good service. I think if Maria Sharapova had a great service, she would have been twice as good as her. I think the serve was probably the weakest part of his game.
"To find a weakness in Venus and Serena, I would have had to put four or five pairs of glbades," he added. "When they are at the top of the game there was no wise technical weakness, sometimes Serena is too hard on herself and was like an actress with all the faces she was doing Venus could have been a poker player, she never knew what she was thinking, and Mary in the same way. "
Possibly, there is a lesson that Bollettieri instilled in Venus Williams, now with 37 Grand Slam titles; Serena, 36, with an Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam titles, and Sharapova, 31, with five Grand Slam titles. And that is that there is always something more to achieve, which could be the reason why they are still seeking greater glory.
"In my book, I have not yet climbed the highest mountain," Bollettieri said. "When someone uses the word retirement, they become complacent and their life ends, there is always another challenge, I will never retire."
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