ABU DHABI - Serena Williams became the first woman in history to win three Laureus World Sports Awards after she was proclaimed 2010 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year at the Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Serena has previously won two Laureus Awards - the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award in 2003 and the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award in 2007. She was also nominated for the Laureus Sportswoman Award in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and the Laureus Newcomer Award in 2000.
The American tennis star won her second Laureus Sportswoman Award, seven years after her first, following Grand Slam victories in 2009 in Australia and at Wimbledon. Only Roger Federer, with four, has won more Laureus Awards. In 2009, Serena Williams re-established herself at the peak of tennis by regaining the world No 1 ranking for the fifth time in her career. She also broke the record set by Justine Henin for the most prize money earned by a female tennis player in one season with a total of $6,545,586 during the year.
Serena said: “I am just so delighted to win this Award, but very disappointed I cannot be in Abu Dhabi to say thank you in person. It’s my third Laureus Award which is amazing and I would like to say thank you to all the Academy Members who voted for me and to the world’s media who nominated me. Last year had its ups and downs, so to get this support is fantastic.
“As a tennis player you look at the amazing names of the Academy Members - like John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Boris Becker and Monica Seles - who have won so many Grand Slams and they know what it takes to do that. There is nothing better in sport than being acknowledged by the people that you looked up to when you were a young player.
“The Laureus Awards have been a constant reflection of my career, winning in 2003 and 2007, and I think I was also nominated four more times. I know only Roger Federer has more Awards, so it would be cool to catch him up. “I’ve had a few injury problems over the years, so it’s been great to get back to the top and be World No 1 again. It’s going to be an interesting year with Justine Henin back, but I’m playing well and it was great to win in Australia, and I still want to win every tournament I play. It’s going to be a very exciting 2010,” added Serena.
In the 2009 Australian Open final, Serena defeated Dinara Safina 6–0, 6–3 in 59 minutes to take her fourth Australian title, tying the record for most victories at the event with Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Margaret Court and Evonne Cawley. At Wimbledon she beat her sister Venus in the final 7–6, 6–2, to win her third title there. At the end of 2009, Serena had taken her total of career Grand Slam singles victories to 11, putting her seventh on the all-time list. In total, she had won 23 Grand Slam titles - 11 in singles, ten in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles. In addition, she has won two Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles. She has won more career prize money than any other female athlete in history.
A little of the gloss of the year was lost at the US Open after an on-court row with a lineswoman who foot-faulted her in the final set of the semi-final against Kim Clijsters. As a result, she was penalised a point for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost the match, and later fined. However she was back to winning ways in the next Grand Slam, the 2010 Australian Open, just after the close of the Laureus qualifying year, beating Justine Henin in the final. Her victory was her fifth Australian Open, and her 12th career singles Grand Slam title.
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Monica Seles, herself a winner of nine Grand Slam titles, said: “It hasn’t been an easy few years for Serena with injuries being a problem, but she comprehensively proved last year that she was the undisputed No 1 player in the world and deserves this Award. And her victory over Justine Henin in the Australian Open final showed that she is determined to hang on to the No 1 position. It’s going to make for a very exciting 2010 in women’s tennis.”
The 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the period January 1 - December 31, 2009, are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time. The living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today.