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Serena wins third AP Athlete of Year award

AP

Serena Williams likes to make one thing clear: She is never satisfied, no matter how many matches and tournaments she wins.

Driven as ever, Williams won plenty this year. She went 78-4 with 11 titles, including at the French Open and U.S. Open to raise her Grand Slam championship total to 17.

She compiled a 34-match winning streak. She earned more than $12 million in prize money, a record for women’s tennis.

In February, she became the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history and never left that perch.

Thanks to all of that, the 32-year-old Williams was honored Wednesday as The Associated Press’ 2013 Female Athlete of the Year. It’s the third AP award for Williams, following 2002 and 2009.

Only two women, tennis great Chris Evert (four) and multiple-sport athlete Babe Didrickson (six) have been chosen more often since the annual awards were first handed out in 1931.

“Whenever I lose, I get more determined, and it gives me something more to work toward,” Williams told the AP in an interview shortly before the start of the U.S. Open.

“I don’t get complacent, and I realize I need to work harder and I need to do better and I want to do better — or I wouldn’t keep playing this game.”

The vote by news organizations was about as lopsided as many of Williams’ matches this season. She received 55 of 96 votes, while Brittney Griner, a two-time AP Player of the Year in college basketball and the No. 1 pick in April’s WNBA draft, finished second with 14.

The Male Athlete of the Year recipient will be announced Thursday.