Was Maria Sharapova unsportsmanlike?
"She was moving around in the middle of my motion on my second serve. That's why I spoke to the umpire [Eva Asderaki-Moore]. I said if she has a problem speaking to Maria [Sharapova], if she's too scared to do it, I had no problem speaking to her."
LONDON -- Until last week, Coco Vandeweghe had never been past the first round at Wimbledon -- or beyond the third round at any Grand Slam. But when she finally got her turn on the big stage of Centre Court, she proved to be no shrinking violet.
First, Vandeweghe gave No. 4 seed Sharapova all she could handle over the course of 2 hours, 46 minutes before bowing in three sets. More than that, Vandeweghe tried to orchestrate the crowd's reactions by frequently acting as an ersatz conductor after she made particularly impressive shots. And to top it off, she also took umbrage at Maria Sharapova's actions as a returner.
That brought her into conflict with veteran chair umpire Asderaki-Moore, who clearly felt that Sharapova's shuffling and shifting of position while Vandeweghe tossed the ball on her second serves was well within the rules. The alleged infraction would fall under the hindrance rule, which reads: "If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point."
The question, then, is: Was Vandeweghe hindered, and if so, was Sharapova hindering her intentionally?
Vandeweghe certainly believed that was the case. She said, "What I experienced, what I felt from her moving around in between my serving motion, was not, I don't think, sportsmanlike. ... I try to play as fair as I can. You know, when I felt like it wasn't being reciprocated, that's when I spoke with the umpire for her to deal with."
Looking at from the outside, however, it would seem that the answer to both of the questions posed above is "no."
If Sharapova was guilty, then most of the other players who move around and change position while waiting to return serve are equally guilty, and that includes pretty much everyone who played Tuesday -- this Tuesday, last Tuesday, next Tuesday or any other Tuesday.
Sharapova took the high road when she was apprised of Vandeweghe's comments. The 2004 Wimbledon champ denied any awareness of the issue Vandeweghe had with either the umpire or herself. Of Vandeweghe's comments, Sharapova said: "It is what it is. I'm not going to argue against her words."
Vandeweghe appeared to take large strides in her career during this tournament and said she feels sufficiently "grounded" to sustain the momentum she built here with big wins over No. 11 Karolina Pliskova and No. 6 Lucie Safarova. Vandeweghe appeared to tire as the match with Sharapova wore on, but when it was over, the American declared she's already looking forward to the US Open.
"I love playing in New York," Vandeweghe said. "I was born there. I have a lot of family there. So it's a crazy experience and tournament in general. I love being in the city, going around, going to Broadway, doing various things and trying to be a New Yorker."
Given her behavior on Tuesday, it seems she's off to a heck of a good start.