Serena Williams’ career is filled with so many accomplishments there are hardly any more firsts for her to achieve. On Monday, that truth was reiterated, as Sports Illustratedhonored the tennis superstar with her first Sportsperson of the Year Award:
34 year old Williams, had perhaps her best all-around season at an age when most tennis players have long since retired. She posted a 53-3 overall record, taking the year’s first three major championships before falling short of a Grand Slam at the U.S. Open semifinals.
Williams told S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated “I didn’t want to necessarily put a fist through a wall—I felt more like, Ah, man, I was so close! I’ll always think about what I could have done better. Could I have come up on the net? Been more consistent? It’s not anger. It’s analyzing: What can I do next time?”
Even though elbow and knee injuries ultimately ended her season early, Williams won five tournaments and established herself as the sport’s most dominant force. She is the 10th woman overall and first solo female Sportsperson of the Year since Mary Decker in 1983, per Kayla Lombardo of Sports Illustrated.
In Price’s piece, however, Williams admitted none of those championships were actually her favorite of the year. Her return to Indian Wells, which she played in after a 14-year boycott, ended up being the top choice.
Long having refused to enter the tournament after incurring alleged racism during a 2001 appearance, Williams said overcoming her fear of a return and having the crowd embrace her made for a special moment.
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