Serena Williams dominated the last decade, on the court docket and in dialog.
There have been, to start with, the dozen Grand Slam singles titles — no different girl had greater than three over the previous 10 seasons — and the three and a half years in a row at No. 1 within the WTA rankings.
After which there was the superstar standing that transcended tennis, making every thing she did and stated newsworthy, whether or not it was the triumphs and trophies and style statements or the disputes with event officers, the journal covers or the Tremendous Bowl advert with a message about ladies’s energy, the start of her daughter or the well being scare that adopted.
Nonetheless profitable matches and reaching Grand Slam finals into her late 30s, nonetheless mattering as a lot as ever, Williams was chosen by The Related Press because the Feminine Athlete of the Decade on Saturday after a vote by AP member sports activities editors and AP beat writers.
The AP Male Athlete of the Decade will likely be introduced Sunday.
“When the historical past books are written, it may very well be that the good Serena Williams is the best athlete of all time. … I prefer to name it the ‘Serena Superpowers’ — that champion’s mindset. Regardless of the adversity and the chances which are going through her, she at all times believes in herself,” stated Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA from 2009 to ’15 and now chief govt for skilled tennis on the U.S. Tennis Affiliation, which runs the U.S. Open.
“Whether or not it was well being points; coming again; having a toddler; nearly dying from that — she has endured all of it and he or she continues to be in championship kind,” Allaster stated. “Her information converse for themselves.”
Gymnast Simone Biles, the 2019 AP Feminine Athlete of the 12 months, completed second to Williams in voting for the last decade honor, adopted by swimmer Katie Ledecky. Two ski racers had been subsequent, with Lindsey Vonn ending fourth and Mikaela Shiffrin fifth.
Three of Williams’ 5 AP Feminine Athlete of the 12 months awards got here over the last decade, in 2013, 2015 and 2018. She additionally received in 2002 and 2009.
“She’s been my idol rising up,” Biles stated.
“She’s remained humble. She’s stayed true to herself and her character, and I believe that is actually neat about an athlete. When you begin profitable, some get cocky, however she’s stayed true to herself, win or lose.”
It is the defeats that appear to drive Williams, serving to propel her to heights not often reached by any athlete in any sport.
“At any time when I lose, I get extra decided, and it provides me one thing extra to work towards,” Williams stated in a 2013 interview with the AP. “I do not get complacent, and I understand I must work tougher and I must do higher and I wish to do higher — or I would not be taking part in the sport.”
With a best-in-the-game serve, highly effective groundstrokes and relentless court docket protection, Williams has received 23 Grand Slam singles titles, greater than anybody else in her sport’s skilled period, which started in 1968.
Greater than half got here from 2010 to ’19: 4 at Wimbledon, three apiece on the U.S. Open and Australian Open, and two on the French Open. That features a run of 4 in a row from the U.S. Open in 2014 by means of Wimbledon in 2015, her second self-styled “Serena Slam.”
Williams additionally was the runner-up one other seven instances at main tournaments over the previous decade, together with 4 of the seven she has entered since returning to the tour after having a child in 2017.
In all, she made the ultimate at 19 of the 33 majors she entered in the course of the decade, a price of practically 58%.
The last decade started inauspiciously in 2010, when Williams minimize her ft on damaged glass at a restaurant and was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs.
Amongst her many accomplishments, although:
Reaching not less than one Slam last yearly, a streak that dates to 2007;
Successful gold medals in singles and doubles (along with her sister, Venus) on the 2012 Olympics;
Changing into the oldest girl to win a Grand Slam singles trophy within the skilled period;
Changing into the oldest No. 1 in WTA historical past and equaling Steffi Graf’s file for many consecutive weeks atop the rankings;
Main the tour with 37 singles titles, 11 greater than anybody else within the decade.
The day she received Wimbledon in 2016, Williams mentioned the best way she continuously measures herself.
“I undoubtedly really feel like once I lose, I do not really feel nearly as good about myself,” she stated.
“However then I’ve to, like, remind myself that: ‘You’re Serena Williams!’ You already know? Like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Williams continued with fun. “And it is these moments that I’ve to simply, like, come off and be like, ‘Serena, have you learnt what you have completed? Who you might be? What you proceed to do, not solely in tennis [but also] off the court docket? Like, you are superior.'”