AP reveals its two athletes of the decade: A tennis legend and a basketball superstar
Serena Williams and LeBron James were the clear choices as female and male athletes of the decade in a vote of Associated Press member sports editors and reporters nationwide. Do you agree?
The King reigns: LeBron James is AP's male athlete of decade
He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He married his high school sweetheart.
“That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief.
No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down.
James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
Serena Williams aces AP Female Athlete of the Decade honors
Serena Williams dominated the decade, on the court and in conversation.
There were, to begin with, the dozen Grand Slam single titles — no other woman had more than three over the past 10 seasons — and the 3 1/2 years in a row at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
And then there was the celebrity status that transcended tennis, making everything she did and said newsworthy, whether it was the triumphs and trophies and fashion statements or the disputes with tournament officials, the magazine covers or the Super Bowl ad with a message about women's power, the birth of her daughter or the health scare that followed.
Still winning matches and reaching Grand Slam finals into her late 30s, still mattering as much as ever, Williams was selected by The Associated Press as the Female Athlete of the Decade on Saturday after a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers.
“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,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA from 2009-15 and now chief executive for professional tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open.
“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.”
Serena Williams holding her daughter Alexis
Williams after victory over Maria Sharapova of Russia
Williams beats Victoria Azarenka of Belarus
Williams at the women's final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament
Williams during tennis match at the WTA Championship
Williams hugs the championship trophy during 2014 U.S. Open
Wimbledon champions dance on stage
Williams at the 2013 U.S. Open
Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams show their gold medals
Williams trips as she returns a shot
James dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder
James drives to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks