American great, Serena Williams has been named Female Athlete of the Decade by the Associated Press.
Williams took the award ahead of gymnast, Simone Biles, who was second in the polls by AP sports editors and beat writers, while American swimmer, Katie Ledecky finished third.
“When the history books are written, it could be that the great Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time” 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”.
The 38-year-old Williams compiled another magnificent decade, winning 12 Grand Slam titles to take her overall tally to 23 major titles- an Open Era record. No other woman won more than three majors on the last 10 years. In yet another testament to her incredible abilities, Williams captured her most recent Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open during the early stages of pregnancy.
The American claimed a cumulative 37 tour-level titles in the last decade and spent an amazing 236 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world between 2010 and 2019. Caroline Wozniacki, who held the No. 1 ranking for 71 weeks, is the next best. Williams also spent a record-equaling 186 weeks at No. 1 between February 2013 and September 2016.
Serena not only conquered tennis in the last decade, but the great woman also battled some major health scares and came out victorious. The American suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2011, but recovered to dominate the sport, and had a similar problem during the birth of her first child, Olympia in September 2017.
“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”, continued Allaster.
Williams currently sits on 23 Grand Slam titles, one behind Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24. The American has come very close to matching that record in the last couple of years, reaching four Grand Slam finals since her return from maternity leave in 2018. She was a beaten finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open in each of the last two seasons.
One thing is for sure- Serena will keep pushing for that record in the next decade- and it will not come as a surprise if she matches and breaks Court’s record before she finally hangs her racket. The world No. 10 is scheduled to start her 2020 season at the ASB Classic in Auckland from 6-12 January.