Despite a year that saw her slapped with a $20,000 fine for an on-court tirade, Serena Williams managed to win the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year Award, beating fellow tennis great Kim Clijsters and horse Zenyatta to capture the annual honor.
Williams spent 2009 re-establishing herself as the best player in women’s tennis, soaring to the top of the professional rankings and taking home titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The tennis great exploded at the U.S. Open when she lost in the semifinal round, spouting a profane rant at a line judge after a call she disagreed with during the match.
“People realize that I’m a great player, and one moment doesn’t define a person’s career,” Williams told the Associated Press.
Williams, 28, has won 11 Grand Slam titles. This is her second AP Female Athlete of the Year Award — she won her first in 2002.
“I’m just happy and blessed to even be playing seven years later. All this is a bonus, really,” Williams told the AP. “In 2002, I just was really dominant, and I think in 2009, I just brought that back. I kind of became that player again.”
Zenyatta, the first female horse to win the Breeders’ Cup, came in second and tennis star Kim Clijsters took third with 16 votes.