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EXCLUSIVE: Rick Macci Brings Up Serena Williams to Reject Major Maria Sharapova Claim on Tennis in USA

Dhruv Rupani

Rick Macci Uses Serena Williams to reject Maria Sharapova claim on Tennis in USA

Legendary coach Rick Macci played a small but important role in Maria Sharapova winning 5 Grand Slam titles. So shifting to the United States in her childhood proved to be a career masterstroke. Macci witnessed her growth as a player and is one of her biggest supporters to date. However, he is not in sync with the Wimbledon 2004 champion’s views on American tennis.

In an interview in 2023 after Coco Gauff won the US Open, Maria Sharapova claimed that American fans do not care for the sport beyond the Grand Slam that takes place in September every year. At the Bloomberg Summit, Sharapova was quoted as saying –

“Coco (Gauff) won the US Open. How many people knew that three weeks later she was playing in Beijing? She made it to the semifinals and lost, but I’m sure 99 percent of the US Open audience had no idea where she would play next.”

There is an element of truth in Maria Sharapova’s comments. Tennis fans in the country are disgruntled with the broadcasting of events from players like NBC and Tennis Channel. Recent decisions such as elevating the 2024 men’s final broadcast to ABC while leaving the women’s final to ESPN, have not pleased many due to allegations of gender inequality.

In an exclusive interview with The SportsRush, Rick Macci respected his former pupil’s opinion. But he has a few reasons to believe that tennis remains a strong part of the American psyche and the sporting ecosystem. And the main reason is Serena Williams and Venus Williams crafting the ‘greatest sports story of anybody’s lifetime’. 

Macci opined that the average American tennis supporter is still trying to get used to Serena not playing anymore and Venus’ best days being behind her. The veteran coach was quoted as saying –

“You have Coco Gauff in the top 10 as well as Jessica Pegula, you got Madison Keys in the top 15, so there’s lot more depth with the women and lot more depth with the men.

“But then again, there should be, there’s lot of money spent on tennis in the country. We definitely should be having more Americans winning Grand Slams.

Both Venus and Serena, both Compton comets, played for a long, long time and we are trying to get used to that.”

Rick Macci also put Serena and Venus’ journeys above the likes of LeBron James, Michael Jordan and other great American Olympians. The 2021 Oscar-winning movie, King Richard highlighted the Williams’ struggles beautifully.

“I see what Maria is saying but it’s mainly because of Venus and Serena. People don’t realise what they saw, it’s the greatest sports story of anybody’s lifetime.

“You got to put it in context. Forget Michael Jordan, LeBron James. Forget Olympics. Forget everything. 2 Little Girls from Compton, California, living in the same house, living in the same bedroom, both of them became World No.1 and World No.2 for the longest time. Both of them carried American tennis for 20 years,” Macci added.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams will always be Rick Macci’s favorites. But the Florida-based super coach continues to have the highest regard for Maria Sharapova. And he had something special to say about her too.

Rick Macci Lauds Maria Sharapova for Her Mental Strength

Macci recalled the time he coached Sharapova, even though it was just for a year. The coach’s prediction of the Russian star becoming World No.1, came true. This is because of her razor-sharp focus and competitiveness.

“When I had her at 11 years old, she was in a bubble. She was never going to be a Venus or Serena as an athlete. But I never had such a young kid who was there (Bang!) mentally.

I only had Maria for a year. She came from Bradington from the IMG Academy. But I knew she was going to be No.1 in the world, she had it back then in her.

“(Sharapova) Always played on the frontfoot, took the ball right on the rise, would give you a surprise!”

Last year, Maria Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud claimed that she was the ‘worst athlete ever to win a Grand Slam’. But Rick Macci leaped to her defence. He hit back by tweeting that anyone who wins 5 Grand Slams has ‘got to be athletic’.

Rick Macci is looking to produce the next champion player from the United States. But the legacy Maria Sharapova has left after Serena Williams and Venus Williams, could be very hard to match or go past. If someone manages to do so, then more than Macci and Sharapova, American tennis would be the real winner.

Post Edited By:Dhruv Rupani

About the author

Dhruv Rupani

Dhruv Rupani


Dhruv Rupani is a Tennis Editor at The SportsRush. He is a tennis tragic in every sense and would go to any length to defend it against anyone if compared negatively to other sports. A huge Rafael Nadal supporter, Dhruv believes tennis is very much like life in most aspects. He started following the sport at the age of 10. Translating his love for sports into a living, he has over 8 years of experience in the digital media space. He aims to entertain and educate people about sports by presenting the best updates to them. When not covering tennis, Dhruv loves to spend time watching comedy shows and movies, reading inspiring books and doesn't mind trying his hand at cooking sometimes!

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