2013 began with a title for Serena Williams; it'll end with another, this one coming off the court. The No. 1-ranked tennis star was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, her third time being recognized with the award.
The 32-year-old Williams wraps up 2013 having returned to the world's No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2010. Her .951 winning percentage is the best since Steffi Graf's .977 in 1989. She won the U.S. Open and French Open this year, and her 11 overall titles are the most since Martina Hingis' 12 in 1997. Williams compiled a 34-match winning streak, the longest since her sister, Venus, won 35 consecutive matches in 2000. Her big year also led to a big payday, as Williams racked more than $12 million in prize money this year, a record for women's tennis.
Williams received 55 of 96 votes, while Brittany Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, a two-time AP Women's College Basketball Player of the Year from her days at Baylor, finished second to Williams with 14 votes. Swimmer Missy Franklin was third with 10 votes.
Former women's No. 1 ranked tennis player Chris Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career, wrote for SI.com why Williams is her Sportswoman in 2013. Earlier in December, Sports Illustrated named Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning its Sportsman of the Year.
The AP Male Athlete of the Year will be announced on Thursday. WERTHEIM: What does Roger Federer's future hold?; more mail