Sharapova v Serena: Why a drugs test sparked a race row

Picture of Maria Sharapova

It's one of the greatest rivalries in tennis, but today's rematch between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams isn't being played on the court, but rather among fans of the players on social media - and this time it's all about race.

Moments after five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova held a press conference to admit she had failed a drugs test, tweets began to emerge imagining how the scenario would have been played out if it was her rival who had been forced to make the confession.

If this had been Serena Wiliams Twitter would be on fire

At a press conference Monday, the Russian revealed she tested positive after losing to Williams at the Australian Open in January. Since the announcement, more than five thousand tweets containing both the names "Sharapova" and "Serena" have been posted on Twitter. The trend is being largely driven by black Twitter - a loosely defined term for those who use social media to highlight their black cultural identity. Most users are alleging that Sharapova is being treated lightly by the media because she is white:

The whole Sharapova mess reminds us of how media's love for white= innocent and must be given a chance. Black=guilty and must face consequences
Serena Williams (hypothetically) "I doped up" Media: "Destroy her." Maria Sharapova, "I doped up" Media: "Her honesty is so brave."
Relieved it is Sharapova not Serena. Cant imagine how the white press would have torn her to shreds over this. Watch them protect Maria

On the court, Williams is ranked world number one compared to Sharapova at number seven, and leads Sharapova in head-to-head contests, 19-2. But one estimate puts Sharapova ahead on total net worth, calculating that she has amassed more than £100 million ($160 million) when including prize money and sponsorships. Both players have established reputations as fashionistas, entrepreneurs and cover girls, and many fans took to Twitter to defend the Russian:

Sh's been taking the medicine for 10 years (which was legal) but it got banned THIS year. Stop talking about cheating

There is of course no way to prove whether Sharapova is or isn't getting favourable media treatment - Williams has never failed a drug test.

Maria Sharapova failed a drugs test and the way the media and society is treating the situation is a classic example of white privilege

Blog by Rozina Sini

Next story: Did a 'prank' suicide bomb video go too far?

Boy crying

Several YouTube stars have ramped up the shock value of their stunts to get clicks - but a video by a Saudi group faking an encounter with a suicide bomber has been blasted as one of the most outrageous "prank" videos yet. READ MORE

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.