LONDON -- The next time Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova meet, it will likely be on a tennis court, with a net separating them -- maybe even at Wimbledon, in the final, on the first Saturday in July. "I think its great for womens tennis when we play each other," Williams said. Until then, fans and non-fans alike can keep picking apart the unexpected trade of verbal jousts between two of the sports biggest stars -- a back-and-forth that has turned the lead-up to Wimbledon into something much more than simple tennis talk. The latest chapter came on the eve of the tournament, which starts Monday. Trying to set aside a number of awkward outcomes from a Rolling Stone profile of her posted online last week, Williams used her pre-tournament news conference Sunday to express her apologies. -- For comments that put both her and Sharapovas love lives on centre stage. -- For remarks she made about the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case. -- And, it seemed, every bit as much for letting the author of that story into her private world, thus turning the buildup to Wimbledon into a festival of dirty laundry that has the headline writers for the London tabloids drooling. ("This time its personal" and "Im sorry, Maria!" were among the lines used.) "It definitely hasnt been easy," the No. 1-ranked Williams said about the stir created by the magazines profile. "And I feel like I really wanted to say: I apologize for everything that was said in that article." Earlier in the week, Williams had issued a statement expressing regret for remarks about the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville case. On Sunday, she said she and the family "came to a wonderful understanding, and were constantly in contact." Also Sunday, Williams explained that she approached the No. 3-ranked Sharapova to try to smooth things over by extending an apology at a pre-tournament players party Thursday. The exchanges between the two can be traced to a passage where the storys author surmised that something critical Williams said during a telephone conversation with her sister referred to Sharapova. Williams said Sharapova accepted her apology. If that was the case, however, it sure didnt show Saturday, when Sharapova delivered her own broadside during her news conference: "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." Asked to respond to that dig 24 hours later, Williams declined, saying: "I definitely was told of (Sharapovas) comments. I definitely like to keep my personal life personal. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it." With play beginning Monday -- Roger Federer begins defence of his seventh title on Centre Court, with Sharapova playing her first-round match afterward -- much of this talk is certain to die down. But its just as certain to pick back up in about two weeks if the players, on opposite sides of the bracket, advance to the final. "Theres no guarantee that Ill be there," Williams said. "But Im definitely hoping that I can play and win seven matches." Shes a heavy favourite to do so, going 74-3 and collecting three of four major titles since the start of Wimbledon in 2012. That, perhaps not coincidentally, is when she began working with French tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou, to whom Williams has been linked romantically. Neither has confirmed publicly whether theyre a couple, but Sharapovas shot on Saturday was taken as a reference to Williams and Mouratoglou. Sharapova was responding to a question about the portion of the Rolling Stone story in which Williams spoke to her sister about what the reporter described as "a top-five player who is now in love." Williams lamented Sunday that "a private conversation" was reported about, but she also laughingly conceded: "Ive been in the business for a little over 200 years, so I should definitely, definitely know better. I should know better to always have my guard up." She is quoted in the article as saying: "She begins every interview with Im so happy. Im so lucky -- its so boring. Shes 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 writer: "An educated guess is shes talking about Sharapova, who is now dating Grigor Dimitrov, one of Serenas rumoured exes." On Sunday, Williams said: "I made it a point to reach out to Maria. ... 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 ... be open, say Im very sorry." Williams repeatedly used some version of the phrase "inadvertently brought into a situation" to describe the way Sharapova got involved. "Its important what Ive learned this week -- mostly that its so important to know all the facts before you make a comment or before you make an assumption," Williams said. "Thats something Im still learning." Vapormax 2021 . LOUIS -- Rookie Tavon Austin has missed another day of practice, lessening the odds hell be ready for the St. Vapormax Store . A big centre with all the tools to be an elite player, Johansen paced the Blue Jackets with a standout game Saturday night. He had a goal and two assists for a career-high three points as Columbus beat the New York Islanders 5-2 to snap a five-game losing streak. https://www.cheapvapormaxoutlet.com/ . Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored shootout goals, and backup goalie Cam Talbot earned his second win in two nights as the Rangers shook off a late tying tally and beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 Monday night. Vapormax From China . DAmigo scored twice in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Toronto Marlies edged the San Antonio Rampage 5-4 in American Hockey League action. Fake Vapormax . -- Quarterback Will Finch threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns, and Yannick Harou rushed in two scores as the No. CHICAGO -- Jeff Locke, Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a chance. Miguel Montero finished them off.Harrison hit a sacrifice fly in the 13th inning, but the Chicago Cubs got to Locke for two runs in the bottom half and won 8-7 on Monteros game-ending RBI single Monday night.Harrison had three hits and three RBI for the Pirates, who had won eight straight road games. Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell hit opposite-field homers against Jake Arrieta, but Pittsburgh dropped to 62-1 this year when leading after eight innings.Nothing to hang our heads about, Harrison said. We went out there and gave it everything we had. We got contributions from a lot of different people. We just came up short.Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo set the stage for Monteros clutch swing with consecutive singles against Locke (9-8), plating the tying run. After Ben Zobrist was walked intentionally, Montero dumped a 1-2 pitch into left for a big pinch-hit single.Its a winning team, winning attitude, Montero said. Thats (what) its all about. We never quit. We know we can come back anytime. Weve done it all season long, and we did it again today.Locke pitched three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the 13th. He was helped by two great defensive plays by Cervelli, who tagged Javier Baez out at home to end the 10th and 12th innings.You know nobody is coming in behind you, so youve just got to bear down and make pitches the best you can, Locke said. We didnt get the end result we were looking for, but theres no shying away from the challenge.The major league-leading Cubs (83-47) dropped two of three in Los Angeles over the weekend, and then their flight to Chicago was delayed. They arrived early Monday morning, and still had enough in reserve to outlast the scrappy Pirates.Rob Zastryzny (1-0) got his first major league win. Jorge Soler and Willson Contreras homered for the Cubs, and Baez collected four hits.They had to be tired today, but nevertheless played `til post-midnight with energy, manager Joe Maddon said, and I love it.Pittsburgh, which fell 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis for the second NL wild card, had a 6-3 lead after seven innings.dddddddddddd But Contreras belted a two-run shot to center against Neftali Feliz in the eighth and Soler connected for a tying solo shot in the ninth against closer Tony Watson.Bells one-out shot to left in the fourth was Pittsburghs first hit of the game. With two outs and runners on first and second in the sixth, Polanco drove Arrietas first pitch over the wall in left for a 4-3 Pittsburgh lead.Polanco also hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning of the Pirates 3-1 win at Milwaukee on Sunday. He was batting just .138 (4 for 29) against Arrieta before his team-best 21st homer.Arrieta was charged with six runs -- matching a season high, also against Pittsburgh on July 8 -- and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. The ace right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his first four August starts, recalling his dominant second-half run to the NL Cy Young Award a year ago.I didnt pitch as well as I would have liked, he said. Obviously the two homers were kind of the dagger for me.NO COLEPittsburgh left-hander Steven Brault allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in four innings after being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis. He replaced Gerrit Cole in the rotation after the ace went on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.TRAINERS ROOMPirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (shoulder) was activated from the 15-day DL and optioned to Indianapolis, where he will make at least one start before the Triple-A season ends next week.Cubs: RHP Pedro Strop (left meniscus tear) is throwing again, and RHP Hector Rondon (right triceps strain) also is making great progress, according to Maddon.UP NEXTCubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (12-7, 2.19 ERA) and Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50 ERA) get the ball for the second game of the series on Tuesday night. Hendricks is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in five August starts. Kuhl allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision in his previous start Thursday at Milwaukee.---Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap ' ' '