An ex-coach of Maria Sharapova discusses the rivalry between her and Serena Williams.

Michael Joyce confessed that he thought Maria Sharapova respected Serena Williams the most, but he also pointed out that the Russian never expressed that feeling to him directly. Three of Sharapova’s five Grand Slam victories came under the direction of Joyce, who worked with the Russian between 2004 and 2011.

Sharapova was regarded as one of the finest players in the world for a long time. Sharapova was unable to defeat Williams, though, as the American prevailed in 20 of their 22 encounters. On the Tennis Channel podcast, Joyce stated, “I believe eventually, Maria probably had the most regard for Serena over any athlete.”

Just my opinion, which is all I have to go on. Maria never expressed it, but I get the impression that she always believed she had a chance no matter who she was playing. Sloane Stephens could be winning, but Maria always believed that if she persisted and showed toughness, she could turn the situation around.

However, there was a time when Serena seemed to be on top of her game. Serena went through a phase where she really blew Maria away for three to four years, and I think Maria was fairly predictable in some respects about how she was playing.

Williams and Sharapova had a better head-to-head record.

Sharapova once had an advantage over Williams in their head-to-head matchup. Williams and Sharapova first faced off in Miami in 2004, with the American coming out on top in a straight-set victory.

Sharapova exacted revenge on Williams four months later at Wimbledon, defeating her en route to her first Grand Slam victory. Sharapova and Williams reconnected later that year when the Russian defeated the American at the WTA Finals.

Sharapova won two of their first three meetings before losing all 19 of their subsequent encounters. Williams is still competing while Sharapova is currently enjoying her retirement. Sharapova gave birth to her first child earlier this month.