Serena Williams probably had every reason to think prior to the final of the US Open that she would be taking home the winner’s trophy.
She was in great shape after her break from the sport to have her first child - progressing with ease through the rounds, losing only three games in her semi-final and facing a vastly less-seasoned opponent in the final.
There may have been only three seeding positions between Williams at 17 and Naomi Osaka at 20 but there was little else in common in terms of career experience or big match results.
But none of that provides the remotest of excuses for the greatest woman player of all time to behave as badly as she did when it wasn’t working out to plan or expectation.
Despite the best efforts of some in the management of the game to try and validate Williams’ outbursts during the match and behaviour afterwards seeming to say that she is bigger than the game – she nor anyone else for that matter is not.
Being the biggest name in the game doesn’t provide the right to behave badly.
Nor should the race card be played or sexism alleged in somehow trying to justify it.
If in the process of dealing with disappointment a sportsperson lets down their guard and does the wrong thing they should be accountable for it.
Unfortunately Williams is beginning to look as though she does not want to be out there.
Her rants earlier in the year about having to put up with a drug testing regime that looked infinitesimal compared to the top participants in many other sports, demonstrated frustration if not an expectation that she should be treated differently.
Her overt violations of the tennis code of conduct during last weekend’s final and the petulance displayed on being called out for them did not reflect well on a superstar of the game.
It never did on Nastase or McEnroe or other serial offenders.
But perhaps what was even worse was that Williams made the moment of Osaka’s first grand slam victory all about Serena instead.
Long before Williams called on the crowd to show some respect to Osaka’s win she had multiple opportunities to prevent the booing and jeering.
Perhaps the most effective strategy would have simply been behaving more respectfully herself.
Even Williams’ speech was all about her and little about her conqueror.
This was definitely a case where actions were way more important than words – especially when what words there were came way too late.
If Williams returned to the game to prove that she could get back after giving birth, then she has achieved that.
She surely doesn’t need to keep playing to earn a living for her family.
If she doesn’t want to be there, then give it away – and sooner rather than later if there are likely to be any more manifest displays of disrespect for the game or her opponents.
It’s been pretty much usual in tennis for those who have temper or respect issues to grow out of them and be model citizens in the twilight of their careers.
There have been few who seemed to get grumpier as they got older.
Serena Williams has been an outstanding sportswoman and an incredible athlete.
Through her own commitment to training and preparation she has effectively demanded that others in the women’s game get way fitter and stronger to remain competitive.
Her career results have been stunning.
In grand slams she has accumulated 23 singles and 18 doubles titles.
When other big names showed a reluctance for tennis at the Olympics Williams and her sister embraced it.
She is a four-time Olympic gold medallist.
It would be way better if the world can remember an icon of sport for her superb achievements and her significant contribution to the advancement of the game in which she has dominated – untainted by recollections of someone who got grumpy at the end because she played on too long.