True champion Serena Williams deserves every accolade
Serena Williams gets unfair criticism - but whatever happens in Roland Garros this year, she is a true champion in every possible sense of the word.
To see Serena Williams hug a distraught Kristina Mladenovic is to see a true champion in the absolute sense of the word.
Mladenovic gave everything in their third-round match - but it simply wasn't enough against one of the greatest of all time. They shook hands politely at the net, but as soon as they were out of the public gaze, Williams put her arms round her defeated opponent, congratulating her on her performance and consoling her on her loss.
The real difference is that she has the track record and the talent to back it up.
Her achievements are unsurpassed; she is one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Serena Williams with her sister Venus Williams - Wimbledon 2015AFP
Could it perhaps be that some people are uncomfortable with an ambitious woman who has dedicated her life to being a winner, and succeeded? Indeed, so often her critics try to attack her appearance and her physical strength as well as her behaviour in ways they'd never dream of doing for her male equivalent.
So often female athletes are expected to be quiet, smile, and look pretty in the way approved by tabloid newspapers and lads' mags. Serena Williams won't have it. She's going to go out there, play tennis, and win tournaments.
And much as observers might sneer, her peers love her. While some high-profile players are not exactly well liked, Serena Williams does not fit into that category. The other women on the tour respect her, and they like her too. Of course, she has her sister there with her, but she's also very close to Caroline Wozniacki; she's not one of the players who keeps herself to herself, like the currently troubled Maria Sharapova, and she's quick to praise her rivals.
Serena Williams applauds Angelique KerberAFP
When she won Wimbledon last year, she told Garbine Muguruza to dry her tears because she would be champion in SW19 very soon; when she lost in Australia to Angelique Kerber, she was the most gracious of losers, congratulating the German with the words: "You truly deserve it."
It's no wonder that Kerber responded with the fulsome accolade: "Serena, you are an inspiration to so many, an unbelievably great person."
A champion and a good person? Praise does not come higher. Serena Williams deserves every single bit of praise she ever gets - and more.