This year's Met Gala dazzled onlookers in so many different ways, but few could have predicted that it would be responsible for ending one of the tennis world's most bitter rivalries.
Among the sporting stars at this year's event were 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and retired Russian great Maria Sharapova, the former rivals who have a long and somewhat bitter history with one another.
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The pair met 22 times in their careers, with Williams winning 20 of those matches - at a 90.9 winning percentage.
Despite sharing so many years together on tour, however, the two women were far from close off the court.
In fact Sharapova famously said in 2017 that they'd "never be friends", although she did vaguely hold out hope that it might happen one day.
“Serena and I should be friends: we love the same thing, we have the same passion,” Sharapova said in 2017.
“But we are not friends—not at all. I think, to some extent, we have driven each other.
“Maybe that’s better than being friends. Maybe that’s what it takes to fire up the proper fury … Someday, when all this is in our past, maybe we’ll become friends. Or not.”
Suffice to say, the sight of the two tennis greats living it up at the Met Gala and smiling for photos together took the world by shock.
Sharapova posted one such photo of herself in between Serena and her sister Venus, with all three woman smiling from ear to ear.
The Russian accompanied the happy snap with a number of raised hand emojis, sending users on social media into meltdown.
“I feel like I’m hallucinating. What in the world?!” Journalist Max Gao said in response to the photo that left many others in disbelief.
— Max Gao • 高俊鹏 • #TIFF21 (@MaxJGao) September 14, 2021
Venus, Sharapova, and Serena Williams in one pict??? YESSSS 🙌🏼❤️ pic.twitter.com/9hWQH5zRyD
— D.ée Gouw (@deziraygouw) September 14, 2021
— GLAZIA (@Glaziang) September 14, 2021
Peace in our time. You won't see this often (ever) - the Williams sisters laughing it up with Maria Sharapova at the #MetGala. (Serena and Maria are famously whatever the opposite of friends is.) https://t.co/TUAqWazSAo
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) September 14, 2021
Tennis stars dazzle at Met Gala
The tennis superstars were among the 400 guests invited to the annual event, which was pushed from its traditional May timeslot last year and morphed this year into a two-part affair.
The official theme of the gala, which raises money for the museum's Costume Institute, was "American Independence," leaving plenty of room for interpretation.
It coincided with the opening of "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," the first of a two-part exhibition at the Met's Anna Wintour Costume Centre.
The two-part gala marked the Costume Institute's 75th anniversary. The Met Gala raises the bulk of the institute's annual funding, including a larger gathering scheduled for May 2.
That date reclaims the first Monday in May for the gala and will celebrate the exhibition's second part, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion," in the period rooms of the museum's American Wing.
Considered fashion's biggest night, A-list guests from music, film, TV, tech and beyond are encouraged to embrace the theme of the new exhibition each year as they slowly make their way up the museum's red-carpeted stairs.
As well as the Williams sisters and Sharapova, fellow tennis superstars Naomi Osaka, US Open champion Emma and runner-up Leylah Fernandez also made appearances at the event.
— wta (@WTA) September 14, 2021
— Tenis Central (@Tenis_Central) September 14, 2021
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