Williams is 74-3 overall and has collected three of the past 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 they're a couple, but Sharapova's 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 broke into peals of laughter when saying: "I've 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 '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 writer: "An educated guess is she's talking about Sharapova, who is now dating Grigor Dimitrov, one of Serena's rumored 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 I'm very sorry.'"
Williams repeatedly used some version of the phrase "inadvertently brought into a situation" to describe the way Sharapova got involved.
"It's important what I've learned this week — mostly that it's so important to know all the facts before you make a comment or before you make an assumption," Williams said. "That's something I'm still learning."
There were other subjects discussed Sunday, if only briefly.
Those included Williams' first-round opponent (92nd-ranked Mandy Minella of Luxembourg).
And how Williams feels when she's not the favorite to win a title ("Not so often," she noted).
And what it's like to be at Wimbledon without the 33-year-old Venus, who also is a five-time champion but is sidelined by a lower back injury and will sit out the tournament for the first time since 1996.
"I feel so lonely. I feel like something is missing. So I talk to her all the time — more than usual," the younger Williams said.
"Before I left, she said, 'Snap out of it. It's time for you to pass me.' So that was really encouraging," Williams continued. "Hopefully I'll be able to do it."