Venus Williams has explained the viral photo of Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and herself posing at the Met Gala after it left the tennis world in a frenzy.
Tennis fans were left stunned to see Serena and Sharapova mingling and posing for a photo together in New York on Monday considering their well-documented feud on and off the court.
'UNACCEPTABLE': Tennis great lashes out over 'crazy' Djokovic moment
'BY HER SIDE': Emma Raducanu spotted with mystery man
Sharapova once famously said she and Williams would "never be friends" as details of their fractured relationship were made public in 2016.
So fans were gobsmacked to see the pair putting on a friendly display at the Met Gala, sharing a photo they'd taken together on their social media accounts with Venus.
Many questioned whether the photo was staged for appearances.
But that was quickly debunked by a second photo from the night.
Spotted in the background of a selfie taken by Brazilian pop star Anitta and American rapper Saweetie in the bathrooms was none other than Serena and Sharapova.
Williams can be seen smiling as she chats to Sharapova, putting to bed any lingering doubts that their infamous feud might be over.
Following the internet frenzy, Venus has now taken to social media to explain the photos.
During a Q&A, one fan asked Venus to explain the truth behind the photos that had caused such a stir.
Venus was her usual joyful self in quashing any reports there was bad blood between Serena and Sharapova since the Russian retired.
“We’re walking like, ‘Man, we wish Maria was still playing,'” Venus said.
"And we saw her, and we both separately told her, ‘Oh My God, we were just talking about you, [we] wish you were still on Tour.'”
Venus Williams explains that great photo with Serena and Sharapova. Says the Serena and her miss Masha on tour. Amazing stuff: pic.twitter.com/v0wPfFjsYc
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 17, 2021
Venus went on to say both Serena and herself 'love' catching up with Sharapova and there was absolutely no bad blood.
“And we were so happy to see each other, there were hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo," she added.
"So, the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard on the court for years, we still respect and love each other. And love Maria."
Sharapova and Serena's infamous feud
Sharapova and Serna had a very frosty relationship during the 16 years in which they both played on the WTA tour, with Sharapova infamously saying they’d ‘never be friends’ in 2017.
“Serena and I should be friends: we love the same thing, we have the same passion,” Sharapova said.
“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.”
Williams and Sharapova met 22 times on the court, with Williams winning 20 of those matches - a 90.9 winning percentage for the American.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.