Serena Williams was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Decade on Saturday in recognition of her prolonged dominance on the tennis court.
Williams won 12 Grand Slam titles during the 2010s, and Howard Fendrich of AP News noted the 38-year-old finished above gymnast and 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year winner Simone Biles in a vote carried out by AP sports member editors and writers.
Biles called Williams "my idol growing up." Meanwhile, Fendrich also carried quotes from WTA CEO Stacey Allaster, who speculated Williams may one day be called "the greatest athlete of all time."
Allaster also made mention of the challenges Williams faced and overcame off the court during the decade: "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," Allaster said. "Her records speak for themselves."
There is no denying Williams' haul of Grand Slam prizes throughout the last 10 years commands respect. She lifted the title at Wimbledon on four separate occasions and was also twice victorious at the French Open.
Williams' astonishing run even took in a hat-trick of U.S. Open and Australian Open titles. To put those achievements into context, Fendrich noted how no other player was able to win more than three Grand Slams in the same time frame.
Acknowledging the strength of the competition during the decade only makes what Williams managed to do more impressive. Staying at the summit of the game while players the calibre of Simona Halep, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza came into their own spoke volumes about Williams' relentless desire, continued hard work to refine her game and dedication to stay in peak condition.
Williams begins her quest to win a 24th Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open. She will also be looking to snap a run of four defeats in Grand Slam finals since she returned from maternity leave in 2018.
The AP's decision to honour Williams is a familiar one. She was named as Female Athlete of the Year on five previous occasions by the organization, including in 2013, '15 and '18.
With more records to be made and titles to win, it won't be a shock to anybody if Williams begins the next decade picking up another similar award.