Serena Williams says she apologized to Maria Sharapova in person Thursday after an article was published last week in which a reporter wrote Williams had been implicitly referring to Sharapova's personal life.
Williams was reticent to further comment on the controversy a day after Sharapova took a subtle yet forceful verbal shot at her.
"She was inadvertently brought into the situation by assumptions made by the reporter," Williams said Sunday in London during her pre-Wimbledon news conference. "I personally talked to Maria at the player party, incidentally. 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.' "
According to the Rolling Stone story, posted online Tuesday, in which Williams also was quoted as saying the teenage victim in the Steubenville rape case "shouldn't have put herself in that position," Williams spoke about what the reporter described as "a top-five player who is now in love."
Williams is quoted as saying: "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. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."
That is followed by these words in parentheses from the author of the piece, Stephen Rodrick: "An educated guess is she's talking about Sharapova, who is now dating Grigor Dimitrov, one of Serena's rumored exes."
On Saturday, Sharapova was asked about the article.
"At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that's just getting attention and controversy," Sharapova said.
"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 continued. "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 beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. But Williams has won their past 13 matches in a row, including in the French Open final two weeks ago.
"I definitely was told of the comments," Williams said Sunday. "I definitely like to keep my personal life personal. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it. But, yeah, I've always, in the past -- you guys have known -- I've kept my personal and professional life very private. I'm going to continue to do that."
At Wimbledon, where play begins Monday, Williams is the defending champion and seeded No. 1. Sharapova is seeded No. 3. They only could face each other in the final.
A day after the 4,000-word Rolling Story story was posted online, Williams issued a statement in which she said she was "reaching out to the girl's family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written," regarding the Steubenville rape victim.
Williams' statement continued: "What was written -- what I supposedly said -- is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame."
Said Sharapova on Saturday: "I was definitely sad to hear what she had to say about the whole case."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.