‘Am I hallucinating?’: Tennis fans react to shock Sharapova-Williams Met Gala photo in unlikely love-in between former foes
A bitter rivalry between the two women began in 2004, when a then-17-year-old Sharapova beat Williams in the final at Wimbledon.
"I will never lose to that little b*tch again," the tearful American is rumored to have said in the locker room post-match, and this promise was pretty much fulfilled in the ensuing years as the pair battled it on court.
But it wasn't only there that the rivalry simmered, with apparent tensions over a mutual ex-boyfriend, Bulgarian tennis hunk Grigor Dimitrov.
But forgetting any bad blood on the Met Gala red carpet, the due were pictured posing together at the glitzy New York bash alongside Serena's sister Venus on Sunday night – with Sharapova sharing the snap as a story on Instagram to her 4.1 million followers.
Fans reacted with shock online, making all manner of comments of the "Hell freezes over" variety regarding the "weird" and "rare" sighting that caused one Twitter user to believe she might be "hallucinating".
"Somewhere Satan is wearing his fur coat and watching pigs glide through the air," quipped one.
"That is wrong on so many levels," began another ironic take.
"Actually, I think this picture is one of the signs of the looming Doomsday, right up there with the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse. Or even more so.
"What's next? [Nick] Kyrgios and Novak [Djokovic] having a holiday together?"
"Never thought I'd see the day," said another.
Many saw the bright side of the reunion instead, and celebrated it with an affirmative "YES!" plus open-handed "hallelujah" emojis while filing it under "Things I love to see".
"We can all grow and be bigger people in 2021," it was also highlighted, and there might be something in this.
With Sharapova retired and Williams now a mother, perhaps the duo have grown up and decided life is too short.
As one tennis pundit pointed out, this is apparently the first time they have been caught enjoying each other's company in public since the draw ceremony for a WTA event in Istanbul in 2012.
Sharapova the next day, at 2012 Istanbul: pic.twitter.com/hJvSBmBVo0— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 14, 2021
Elsewhere at the star-studded event, new US Open queen Emma Raducanu was one of the main stars and has been described as going from A-Levels to the A-list status at the age of 18.
Sitting the English exams for teens who wish to go to university just three months ago, she found herself at the gala in a black and white Chanel ensemble donning pearl body jewelry after becoming the youngest player to win a Grand Slam since Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
Her time in the Big Apple post-win also taking in an appearance on Good Morning America, the Brit went sightseeing in NYC and took to Instagram to claim "never thought I would see this...coolest thing" alongside a photo of her posing in front of a billboard she adorned.
From A-Levels to A-List!Emma Raducanu made an appearance at the New York Met Gala ✨ pic.twitter.com/laOcI7nKaC— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) September 14, 2021
Also in attendance was Naomi Osaka, who lapped up paparazzi attention and posed for photos in an outfit that blended Haitian and Japanese influences in tribute to her parents' homelands.
Can’t take the spotlight of answering questions from the media but no issues having paparazzi take photos and critiquing her every look to attend this— Art Vandelay (@NYTalk167) September 14, 2021
Some onlookers pointed out that Osaka was enjoying the spotlight despite her recent reluctance to engage with media duties at tournaments.
"Can’t handle press conferences or tennis matches, but this is fine," said one person.Also on rt.com As Naomi Osaka considers another ‘break’ from tennis, she should spare us the Barbie dolls & bikini photoshoots this time