December 29, 2019 / 5:17 PM / 21 days ago

Serena named AP Female Athlete of Decade

Tennis superstar Serena Williams was named Female Athlete of the Decade by The Associated Press, as voted on by AP member sports editors and beat writers.

FILE PHOTO: Aug 26, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the USA hits to Maria Sharapova of Russia in the first round on day one of the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, won 12 of those majors over the past decade — no female player has won more than three over the same span — including a run of four in a row from the U.S. Open in 2014 through Wimbledon in 2015, for her second self-named “Serena Slam.” She also was the runner-up another seven times at major tournaments over the past decade, including four of the seven she has entered since returning to action after having a baby in 2017.

Finishing second among voters was gymnast Simone Biles, the 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year, followed by swimmer Katie Ledecky in third, and skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

“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 champion’s mindset. Irrespective of the adversity and the odds that are facing her, she always believes in herself,” said Stacey Allaster, USTA chief executive and former WTA CEO, via the Associated Press.

“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.”

Williams, 38, spent three and a half years straight at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She also became the oldest No. 1 player in WTA history and tied Steffi Graf’s record for most consecutive weeks at the top.

In all, Williams reached the finals at 19 of the 33 majors she competed in and collected 37 singles titles over the past decade (she boasts a career total of 72 singles titles) — 11 more than anyone else.

Off the court, her celebrity status has given her a platform to champion women’s rights and call attention to health care inequality for black women in the United States.

Williams is currently No. 10 in the WTA rankings. She last played in the finals of the U.S. Open in September where she lost to 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

—Field Level Media

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