Serena Williams has been named Female Athlete of the Year by The Associated Press for the third time while LeBron James has claimed his first such AP award.
As far as Williams, it was a no-brainer.
“Driven as ever, Williams won plenty this year,” The Associated Press said of selecting the tennis star
for its top award. “She went 78-4 with 11 titles, including a French Open and US Open, raising her Grand Slam championship total to 17. She completed a 34-match winning streak. She earned more than $12 million in prize money, a record for women’s tennis. In February, she became the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history and never left that perch.”
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Gordon Smith, the executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association, told the AP that Williams, 32, “just continues to be an inspiration to American tennis. Her year this year? Unforgettable.”
Williams received 55 of 96 votes in a poll of news organizations, far outdistancing runner up Brittney Griner, who twice won the AP’s Player of the Year in college basketball and who was the No. 1 pick in April’s WNBA draft. Griner picked up 14 votes.
By picking up two more Grand Slam titles in 2013, Williams is just one behind the 18 apiece won by Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert and seven behind the record 24 titles won by Margaret Court. Evert, with four, also is one of just two women with more AP Female Athlete of the Year awards than Williams. Babe Didrikson holds the most with six.
“Serena already has provided significant contributions to taking our sport to the next level. ... She is chasing records and no doubt will break many records before she’s finished,” WTA chair Stacey Allaster told the AP. “That obviously just brings more attention to our sport.”
LeBron James was named Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday, outpacing Peyton Manning and Jimmie Johnson. James joins Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the only NBA players to have won the award.
LeBron led the Miami Heat to the NBA title for the second straight year in 2013 while winning the league MVP award.
“I don’t think I’ve changed much this year,” James told the AP.
“I’ve just improved and continued to improve on being more than just as a basketball player,” he told the AP. “I’ve matured as a leader, as a father, as a husband, as a friend.”
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