There's no doubt that Serena Williams is an incredible athlete. Her talents are undeniable, and were properly recognized by The Associated Press on Saturday, when she was deemed Female Athlete of the Decade. It's hardly surprising, since Serena has demonstrated time and time again that she deserves this. She has a total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other tennis player in the sport's professional history beginning in 1968. 12 of those titles were earned in the last decade. To give a little perspective on how incredible that accomplishment is, no other woman has won more than three of these titles over the past 10 seasons, but Serena earned half of her titles in her late thirties, when most players begin to slow down. Serena is also the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy at 38 years old. She was ranked number one with the Women's Tennis Association for three and a half years in a row, which parallels the record of fellow tennis player, Steffi Graf, for most consecutive weeks at the top of the rankings. Based on the stats alone, the woman is certainly qualified for the honour.
Not only has Serena earned her stripes as a player, but she has had to deal with her fair share of public hardship, both as a black woman and a new mother. Chief executive for professional tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association (which runs the U.S. Open), Stacey Allaster, said, "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." Serena almost died giving birth to her daughter in 2018, which caused her to take action against the alarming mortality rate of black women giving birth. She came back fighting, though, and was named AP Female Athlete of the Year that same year after returning to tennis for the first time following her daughter's birth. “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," said Stacey Allaster.
The Male Athlete of the Decade will be announced by The Associated Press on Sunday.