Maria Sharapova's maturity at 20 puts Serena Williams to shame
'Serena has often used the phrase "all she had to do was turn up today" when she loses a match'
The Russian is the embodiment of the true sporting spirit in accepting defeat graciously and being honest with the press and fans. Contrast this with the likes of Serena Williams after a defeat. It's not every day that you see a tennis player cry with tears of joy after losing a match - but this is exactly what was happened last Sunday in Madrid.
"I'm usually not a very emotional person when it comes to crying and stuff. But after this match I just had tears running down my eyes because I couldn't believe that I was able to finish this year on such a good note," Maria Sharapova says on her website.
Much can be said about the WTA Tour Championships final in Madrid, but for me the real strength of character came after the match in the acceptance speeches. Sharapova opened her address by congratulating Justine Henin on a tremendous year, adding that it had been "an honour to play her".
She followed on by thanking everybody and anybody, including the hordes of Belgian fans, saying: "I didn't like you much today...but you guys are great for the sport." It's not every day that you witness a great display of sportsmanship on the court.
I can't help but use this point in contrast to Serena Williams' atrocious behaviour after losing to Henin at this year's US Open. In her post-match interview, she replied to journalists' questions with yes-no answers. She barely gave any credit to her opponent but admitted she had played a better match.
This isn't the first time that Serena has acted like this, and she has often used the phrase "all she had to do was turn up today" when she loses a match.
I understand that in competitive sport, it's a bitter pill to swallow when you lose, but I always find it admirable when players give their opponent the credit they deserve. Sharapova is a role model to so many young children around the world, and although she is only young herself, she showed immense maturity beyond her 20 years.
Let's hope that in the future we will witness more speeches like the one we heard last Sunday.