Serena Williams Wins 3rd AP Athlete of Year Award

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By adding a fifth career U.S. Open championship, and a second French Open title, Williams also moved within one Grand Slam trophy of the 18 apiece won by Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. The record is 24 by Margaret Court.

Pretty heady company.

Evert is one of the only two women with more AP awards than Williams. Evert won four from 1974-80, while Babe Didrikson collected a record six — one for track in 1932, and five for golf from 1945-54.

“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 Chairman Stacey Allaster said. “That obviously just brings a lot more attention to our sport.”

Two particular moments in 2013 stuck out to Allaster.

One came at Qatar in February, when Williams cried after assuring herself of returning to No. 1 for the first time since 2010, the year the American needed two operations on her right foot and got blood clots in her lungs.

“You could see the joy, the tears of joy. It meant so much to her, from everything she had been through, to be able to be back at the top of the sport, a sport that she does truly love,” Allaster said.

The second moment came during Wimbledon, when Williams joined other women who have been ranked No. 1 at a celebration of the WTA’s 40th anniversary.

“It was an opportunity to see her in a leadership position. … She did a remarkable job at speaking on behalf of all those great athletes and speaking to future players,” Allaster said. “There’s a little girl, perhaps out there in Compton, who is dreaming of playing on the WTA, and Serena said, ‘We’re waiting for you, and we can’t wait to meet you.’”

(Photo: AP)

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