World number one, Serena Williams, has been named The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fourth time.
She won the award in 2002, 2009 and 2013.
The results announced on Friday had Williams gained 50 first-place votes and 352 points from news directors and US editors.
The other contenders for the title were American professional soccer midfielder Carli Lloyd, UFC fighters Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, and UConn basketball player Breanna Stewart.
Williams won the Australian Open on hard courts in January, the French Open on red clay in June and Wimbledon on grass in July before losing in the US Open semifinals in September in one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history.
In all, Williams went 53-3 with a WTA tour-leading five titles and was ranked No. 1 every week. She raised her Grand Slam singles trophy count to 21; only two women — Margaret Court and Steffi Graf — have won more.
It did not come easily this year for Williams, who grew up in Compton, California, and turned 34 in September.
At the French Open, already dealing with a painful right elbow, Williams caught the flu. Four times in Paris, she lost the first set before rallying to win.
“My elbow was killing me. It’s about fighting and just never giving up. You hear that and it sounds cliché,” Williams said, “but it’s really just about, ‘OK, I’m going to at least try and see what happens.'”
At Wimbledon, she was two points from defeat in the third round but wound up completing a self-styled Serena Slam of four major championships in a row, a run that began in 2014. She also became the oldest woman to win a major title in the Open era, which began in 1968.
“I retired at 34, and I know that at 32, 33 and 34, I was struggling mentally to get psyched up for matches and to feel motivated,” Evert said. “What impresses me even more than the physical prowess of Serena is the fact that she can still conjure up that hunger and that passion for these matches. … Sometimes [the motivation is] just not there. And the times when it wasn’t there for her, she still created magic.”
Only at the US Open, with the historic achievement of a calendar-year Grand Slam in the offing, did Williams stumble, losing a three-setter to 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy.
Williams already is thinking about 2016.
“If I could have this year next year,” Williams said, “I would be really excited.”