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Serena Williams Named "Sportsperson of the Year" by Sports Illustrated

Serena Williams recently completed what was arguably the greatest season of her historic career, compiling a 53-3 record while winning three Grand Slam titles and notching her 700th career win.

With her title at Wimbledon she completed her second "Serena Slam" – winning four Grand Slam events in a row – and brought her career major championship tally to 21. She's just one Grand Slam title shy of Steffi Graf's record of 22 titles in the Open Era.

Williams also finished the season at No. 1 for the fifth time in her career, the first woman to finish in the top spot for three years in a row since Graf did so in the 1990s.

This spectacular season is the reason she was named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year for 2015. It's an honor given by the publication to an athlete who embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.

Williams, one of 12 Sportsperson finalists, faced diverse competition for the honor, including NBA star Stephen Curry, mixed martial arts master Ronda Rousey and Triple Crown-winning horse American Pharoah.

Professional tennis player Andy Roddick made the case for Williams in November in an essay for SI.com, explaining that while many may talk about her dominance, it is her "nuance to get through matches and win deciding sets" that makes her stand apart from other contenders.

Following a Dream

"I've been on this journey since I was 17 years old and followed the same dream every year," she said. "Each win reminds me of all the hard work I put in growing up with my mom and dad and Venus on and off the court."

She added that no amount of winning will ever give her the comfort to rest on her laurels.

"I'm training like I always do," she said. That includes keeping her mental game in check. "I really believe in the power of positive thinking. When I'm down, I'm focused on my next point. I just keep pushing myself.

"Tennis is a physical and mental game. The balance of both is essential to the game."

Staying Positive

She had to rely on positive thinking in several close calls this summer. Somehow, someway, it carried her through.

"It's important to breathe and take it all in sometimes," she added. "I love what I do even when I'm nervous. I just try to do my best."

Williams will seek to match Graf's 22 when the 2016 Grand Slam season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on January 18, 2016.

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