Can we tone down the Serena sanctimony?

It's sometimes unclear whether fans and the media actually think of Serena Williams as robot, rather than a person, given the holier-than-thou responses to her disappointment at being knocked out of the US Open.

Serena, who is still one Grand Slam title shy of Steffi Graf's record of 22 in the modern era, endured a shock loss in her semi-final to Roberta Vinci, and was understandably distraught and short-tempered immediately afterwards.

When you've been on the brink of a feat last achieved in 1988, winning all four Slams in a calendar year, and fall a match short, it's probably going to be annoying when a reporter asks you, minutes later, whether you're disappointed.

Obviously. No freakin' kidding. Serena had been on a run of 33 match wins in Grand Slams, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open this year, as well as the US Open in 2014 (and 2013 and 2012, just FYI).

Until Friday, she held all four major titles, the famous 'Serena Slam', and not for the first time either. She did it in 2002/3 as well.

Add 13 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name, and four Olympic golds, and anyone with a bit of compassion should understand how much this meant to her. She wants to be the greatest, and her chance to win all four titles in one year is unlikely to come around again.

This criticism of her is not new though. For someone who has come back from injuries, from knee surgery, to glass in her foot, to life threatening pulmonary embolisms, she's had to work remarkably hard to get the credit she's due.

Imagine, if you will, being a multi-millionaire, and are forced to miss nearly a year of action due to ill health. You could, having won nearly everything there is to win, say, 'Oh, it's alright. I'll retire and focus on my love of fashion.'

She could have done that. She was lambasted for daring to have interests outside of tennis, with her love of the Miami Dolphins and Green Day, and her fashion designing and acting ambitions. But she worked hard to return in 2011, and did so emphatically.

There are few people in world sport as determined as Serena and Venus Williams, and this despite pressure from their parents, fans and sponsors. Who knows if they even like the game anymore? But they dominate it anyway.

If I see one more person refer to Serena as a 'Prima Donna' I'm going to lose it. When a woman gets annoyed, she's being bitchy and temperamental. When a man does it he's disappointed and stressed, shame, poor guy. Unless he's Andy Murray. Then he's a brat.

Look, she's no saint, but when more column inches are devoted to her ex-boyfriend, or to her reaction to stupid questions, instead of what she's achieved this year alone, you can understand her impatience with the press.

They weren't her finest three minutes in front of the cameras, we can all concede that, but calling her names and making derogatory comments in light of her misery just minutes after losing? That's not exactly fair either.

Lindsay du Plessis

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