It’s one of the greatest rivalries in tennis, but today’s rematch between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams isn’t being played on the court, but rather among fans of the players on social media – and this time it’s all about race.
Moments after five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova held a press conference to admit she had failed a drugs test, tweets began to emerge imagining how the scenario would have been played out were it her rival who had been forced to make the confession.
At a press conference Monday, the Russian revealed she tested positive after losing to Williams at the Australian Open in January. Since the announcement, more than five thousand tweets containing both the names “Sharapova” and “Serena” have been posted on Twitter. The trend is being largely driven by black Twitter – a loosely defined term for those who use social media to highlight their black cultural identity. Most users are alleging that Sharapova is being treated lightly by the media because she is white.
On the court, Williams is ranked world number one compared to Sharapova at number seven, and leads Sharapova in head-to-head contests, 19-2. But one estimate puts Sharapova ahead on total net worth, calculating that she has amassed more than £100 million ($160 million) when including prize money and sponsorships. Both players have established reputations as fashionistas, entrepreneurs and cover girls, and many fans took to Twitter to defend the Russian.