Serena Williams won 11 titles in 2013, including two Grand Slams and the WTA Championships.
© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
After a season that included winning two Grand Slams, finishing as the year-end champion and world No. 1, winning 78 matches and a WTA Tour-high 11 titles, Serena Williams still would not call 2013 the best year of her career.
Williams still measures her success with Grand Slam titles, and in 2002, she won three (adding a fourth in a row by winning the Australian Open in January 2003 to hold all four major titles at once). Of course, Williams won eight titles in 2002 and lost the season-ending WTA Championships. This year, she bettered both of those marks.
“Well, I live to win Slams,” Williams said when asked if this was her best career year. “[And in 2002] I won three. I think [this year] is a top three [season]. I can't say it's the best. I can't say it's not the best.”
However you define it, 2013 was an awesome year for the women’s No. 1, leaving no debate as to who is the best women’s player in the world right now – or for the forseeable future.
The year did not start the way Williams wanted. She was upset in three sets by fellow American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, aggravating a back injury in the process. A few weeks later she lost again, this time in the Doha final to Victoria Azarenka.
But those would be two of just four losses on the season for Williams, who went on a 34-match win streak through the clay-court season to finish the season at 78-4 – the best winning percentage (.951) since Steffi Graf (.977) in 1989 – winning 11 of the 15 tournaments she entered. Williams' only other losses were to Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round at Wimbledon and to Azarenka in the Cincinnati final.
With her 11 titles, including her first French Open win since 2002 and her fifth US Open crown, Williams now owns 17 majors, just one shy of tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time list of Slam singles winners. She also won a staggering $12,385,572 in prize money, which is more than either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal has ever have won on the ATP World Tour in a single season. It shattered the record for the most-ever prize money in a single season for a female player by nearly $4.5 million, and it is the third-highest total ever for a tennis player, behind only Novak Djokovic’s totals in 2011 and 2012.
“It was an awesome year of tennis,” Serena said. “To end with the Billie Jean King trophy (awarded to the winner of the WTA Championships) after 40 years [since the founding of the WTA Tour] and after everything we had the celebration for this year, I don't know if it's like written or what, but it's just really exciting. I haven't had a lot of time to think about it, but I'm happy. I'm really happy that I was able to finish it off.”
At 32, Williams still has the best serve in the women’s game, the most vicious backhand and arguably the best focus and intensity. How much longer she competes at this level no one without a crystal ball can know. She has said she plans to play about the same number of tournaments in 2014 as she did this year, meaning tennis fans will have plenty to enjoy – and her competitors will have plenty to do to keep up.