(CNN) — Serena Williams refused to get drawn into a pre-Wimbledon war of words with Maria Sharapova Sunday — claiming she had apologized to her Russian rival for comments made about her personal life.
Sharapova used her press conference Saturday to lambast Williams over an article which appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
It included a veiled reference to Sharapova’s relationship with Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov and also contained a controversial passage about the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school American football players in Ohio.
“If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids,” Sharapova told reporters.
The 31-year-old American is romantically linked with her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Sharapova also questioned the wisdom of the World No.1’s comments on the rape, for which Williams was later forced to apologize, saying she found them “sad.”.
But Williams, who opens her Wimbledon title defense against Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella Tuesday, said she had reached out an olive branch to Sharapova at the WTA players’ party in London last week.
“I feel like Maria, unfortunately, was inadvertently brought into a situation she should have never been brought into,” Serena said.
“I personally talked to Maria at the player party. I said; ‘Look, I want to personally apologize to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation. I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I’m very sorry for this whole situation’.”
Despite a grilling from the media, Williams refused to get drawn into a row over Sharapova’s stinging attack, while repeatedly apologizing for the Rolling Stone article.
“It definitely hasn’t been easy. And I feel like I really wanted to say, I apologize for everything that was said in that article,” she said.
She also conceded the controversy may be a distraction as she bids for a sixth Wimbledon title and 17th grand slam crown.
Her 16th came when she beat Sharapova for the 13th straight time in beating the defending champion at the French Open.
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