When you think about it, and actually sit through and watch an entire post-match press conference, it's amazing that Serena Williams didn't crack years ago.
The 34-year-old tennis star, poised to become only the fourth female player in history to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles in one calendar year, finally broke it to the media on Tuesday night that their questions were getting a little...repetitive. Not to mention ridiculous, but we'll get to that.
No question, Serena is nonstop entertainment on the tennis court, whether she's serving 120 miles per hour, getting ready to put an opponent away or giving that joyful little hop once she's added yet another trophy to what must be a vault by now.
Her moody side, meanwhile, is also pretty entertaining, and over the years we've seen her smash the occasional racket, frown through post-match pressers and, in 2009, she actually lost a U.S. Open semifinal because she lost her temper.
But she's maintained her cool for the most part, amiably sitting down with the media, win or lose, as most athletes are required to do these days or else risk being fined by their respective leagues or associations. In fact, Serena and sister Venus Williams did skip a post-match interview after losing their quarterfinal doubles match at Wimbledon in 2010 and were fined $4,000 each.
Which is probably less of a fine than what they might have incurred had they gone to the interview and spoken their minds. (Oh, if only...)
Seriously, could you imagine being asked annoying, seemingly endless questions about the last thing you want to talk about, on a regular basis, as part of your job? (White House press secretary aside. We're assuming Josh Earnest loves his job.)
At Wimbledon this year, when the international media pounced for the umpteenth time about her quest for the Grand Slam, she finally cut them off at the pass. "I'm not answering any more questions about the Grand Slam or the alleged Serena Slam." Hands off the table.
And how many times has she fielded questions about playing Venus? Let's see, she's 34, she turned pro at 14...
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Also at Wimbledon, when asked after her third-round match about the possibility that she'd have to play Venus, she shrugged and said, flatly, "I just don't know how I'm going to do, to be honest. Worst-case scenario, I don't do well. I'll just try to keep moving ahead...In the beginning it was hard 'cause I was younger and playing Venus Williams was very difficult, but now it's absolutely nothing. The only thing is for me I'm playing the toughest player I've ever played in women's tennis, so, that's never fun."
Courtesy US Open
Even less fun? Being asked about it all the time.
Asked on Tuesday night why, of all things, she wasn't smiling after toppling Venus in straight sets in their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open, Serena fired back, "To be perfectly honest with you, I don't want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice and I don't want to answer any of these questions. And you keep asking me the same questions. It's not really ... you're not making it super enjoyable."
Bless her. Serena finally said exactly what was on her mind last night, and rightly so. Better yet, she may have said what was on everyone's mind.
Today she's probably fielding all sorts of annoying questions about how she's going to ride out the rain delay (her semifinal match has been postponed till Friday) and how she plans to keep her head in the game. But at least the media have been reminded that it makes no difference whether she wants to smile through it or not.