After consistent dominance on the court over the past 10 years, it’s only fitting that Serena Williams takes the top honors as the decade comes to a close. Williams was named the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Decade after a vote by AP sports editors and beat writers, the AP announced on Saturday. It will announce the Male Athlete of the Decade on Sunday.
“When the history books are written, it could be that the great Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time … I like to call it the ‘Serena Superpowers’ — that champions’ mindset,” USTA chief executive and former WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said, via the Associated Press. “Irrespective of the adversity and the odds that are facing her, she always believes in herself.
“Whether it was health issues, coming back, having a child, almost dying from that — she has endured it all and she is still in championship form. Her records speak for themselves.”
Gymnast Simone Biles took second in the vote after winning the AP’s Female Athlete of the Year award. Swimmer Katie Ledecky finished in third, and skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin took fourth and fifth, respectively.
Williams won 12 Grand Slam titles over the past decade — no woman has won more than three over the past 10 seasons — and spent more than three years straight at the top of the WTA rankings. She became the oldest No. 1 player in WTA history, too, and tied Steffi Graf’s record for most consecutive weeks at the top.
The 38-year-old made the final at 19 of the 33 majors she competed in. She boasts 72 singles titles in her career, too, and has won 37 in the past decade — 11 more than anyone else.
Williams is currently No. 10 in the WTA rankings, and fresh off a loss to 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu in the Finals at the U.S. Open in September.
To make her accomplishments throughout the decade even more impressive, Williams nearly lost her life in 2018 after suffering multiple medical problems following the birth of her daughter. She won the Australian Open in 2017 while pregnant, too, and returned to the court just eight months after giving birth despite her medical scare — finishing runner up at four of the seven major tournaments she’s entered since.
Undoubtedly, she is one of the greatest athletes of all time. “She’s been my idol growing up,” Biles said, via the Associated Press. “She’s remained humble. She’s stayed true to herself and her character and I think that’s really neat about an athlete. “Once you start winning, some get cocky, but she’s stayed true to herself, win or lose.” –Ryan Young, Yahoo Sports
Main Pic: Serena Williams, CNN