Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports salute to basketball star LeBron James and tennis champion Serena Williams, who are the Associated Press’s 2013 male and female athletes of the year.
Serena had what Gordon Smith, the executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association, describes as an unforgettable
She had a record in singles of 78-4, with 11 titles – including the French Open and the U.S. Open.
The 32-year-old Williams also had a 34-match winning streak; won more than $12 million dollars in prize money, a record in women’s tennis; and became the oldest world number-one in women’s tennis history.
Serena’s 17 Grand Slam singles trophies also matches the number won by Swiss star Roger Federer who, like Williams, is 32-years-old.
But while Federer had his least successful year on the men’s tour since 2001, ending the year at number-six in the rankings, Williams dominated during 2013 and looks like she has several years of great tennis ahead of her.
LeBron James is also at the top of his sport. He celebrated his 29th birthday December 30th and is widely regarded as the best player in the National Basketball Association.
In June, LeBron led the Miami Heat to their second consecutive NBA title.
Miami defeated the San Antonio Spurs, four games to three, in a very competitive NBA Finals, and the player nicknamed “King James” rose to the occasion in the decisive Game 7, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
James was named Most Valuable Player of the championship series, and he also won his fourth league MVP trophy in 2013.
In winning the Associated Press award, LeBron says he believes his calling is much higher than being a basketball player, and he hopes to inspire young people.