A pre-Wimbledon spat between tennis divas Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams threatened to overshadow the start of play at the most prestigious — and decorous — of the four grand slams.

World number two Sharapova effectively told number one Williams to keep her opinions to herself after the American seemed to single out Sharapova for criticism about her private life as part of an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine.

Williams was this week forced to apologize to the family of a 16-year-old rape victim in the U.S. state of Ohio after criticizing the girl’s behaviour in the criminal incident, in which two high school athletes were found guilty.

“I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you - don’t take drinks from other people,” Williams was quoted in the magazine article.

“I was definitely sad to hear what she had to say about the whole case,” said Sharapova, queried on the Williams interview in a pre-Wimbledon media conference on Saturday. “I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy.”

“There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean, seriously, give it a rest,” said Williams.

“She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’ - it’s so boring. She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties.”

“Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.” Sharapova said.

“What I do on the court and what I talk about in my press conference is strictly about my career. I’m sure people want to know more, but yet I try to keep my personal life private,” said the Russian.

“Nobody really cares about what I have to say, my opinions. If I speak to my friends, that’s one thing. But I don’t go out and try to create things that shouldn’t be really talked about.”

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