“Every move she made, she thought of Serena Williams, it was almost an obsession” – coach Gabe Jaramillo on young Maria Sharapova…

 

One of Maria Sharapova’s earliest coaches, Gabe Jaramillo, recently spoke to Punto de Break about the Russian’s rise as a teenage prodigy and the goals she aspired to while training at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida. Bollettieri, a famed tennis coach, accepted a promising nine-year-old Sharapova into his academy, of which Jaramillo was the tennis director.

 

"Every move she made, she thought of Serena Williams, it was almost an obsession" - coach Gabe Jaramillo on young Maria Sharapova...
17-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon 2004 by beating Serena Williams in the final

During his interview, Gabe Jaramillo spoke at length about the five-time Major winner’s blazing desire to beat Serena Williams.

Williams, who won her maiden Grand Slam title (US Open 1999) as a teenager herself, went on to have a long-drawn-out yet lopsided rivalry with Maria Sharapova. The American eventually won 20 of their 22 meetings.

Jaramillorevealed that a young Sharapova dreamt of claiming victory over Williams and was often fueled by that desire whenever she trained.

 

“It was almost an obsession,” Jaramillo remarked. “We were at the academy, she hit a ball and I told her: ‘Very good!’. But she answered me: ‘No, well no, with that ball I don’t beat Serena’. Every move she made, she thought of Serena, so you can see how these players think, with their minds set five years ahead.”

The American went on to share a memory from when the former World No. 1 was 14 years old. As a junior player, Sharapova competed at the Orange Bowl tennis championships in Florida, where she lost to future rival Marion Bartoli in straight sets. He later suggested that she practice serving to avoid such a defeat next time.

 

“I remember when she was 14 years old I saw her lose in the Orange Bowl against Bartoli, who planted the serve on the service line the entire game, without backing down,” he continued. “She lost 6-0 and 6-0, that was in December. When January arrived, we met at the first training session and I told her to practice serving, so that the same thing doesn’t happen to us again.”

"Every move she made, she thought of Serena Williams, it was almost an obsession" - coach Gabe Jaramillo on young Maria Sharapova...
Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in their final career meeting at the 2019 US Open

Jaramillo recalled that despite the pitiful loss, Sharapova remained steadfast in her goal. She reiterated that she was training to prepare herself to face Serena Williams. Jaramillo believes the Russian had already foreseen the 2004 Wimbledon final when she clinched her maiden win and Grand Slam title over Williams.

“She remained serious and answered: ‘I’m not training to play against Bartoli, that doesn’t matter to me. I’m training to play against Serena Williams’,” Jaramillo recalled. “At the time Serena was already No. 1. Imagine when she won the Wimbledon final at 17 years old, she had been playing that match in her head for at least five years.”

 

“Maria Sharapova had the greatest confidence in the world” – Gabe Jaramillo Maria Sharapova won her fifth and final Major title at the 2014 French Open

Looking back at Serena Williams’ dominance on clay
Gabe Jaramillo proceeded to shed light on Maria Sharapova’s resolute mindset that made her a fierce competitor on court. He explained how she played with exceptional tenacity even as a child and credited her massive confidence for her illustrious list of achievements.

 

"Every move she made, she thought of Serena Williams, it was almost an obsession" - coach Gabe Jaramillo on young Maria Sharapova...

“She was a special player, since she was 9 years old”, Jaramillo said. “She seemed like a harmless little girl until she picked up the racket. There she showed her champion mentality.

She always hit the ball with a lot of confidence. Maria was always a very confident girl, she was very introverted, but she had the greatest confidence in the world, that’s what helped her get where she did.”

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