PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL, USA - For the first three months of the year she was showing flashes of her former brilliance, and as soon as the tour moved to clay they were flashes no more - the legend was back. Serena Williams put together one of the greatest seven months in the history of women's tennis from April to October this year, winning two Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold and 48 of 50 matches - and for all of that, she is this year's WTA Player Of The Year.
By anyone else's standards, Williams' results from January to March were more than pleasing - she put together a 10-2 record, making the quarterfinals of Brisbane, the fourth round of the Australian Open and another quarterfinal at Miami. But she wanted more, and she was about to get more - much more.
From the beginning of the clay court season Williams went 48-2 the rest of the year, winning seven WTA titles - Charleston, Madrid, Wimbledon, Stanford, the Olympics, the US Open and last but not least the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012. Wimbledon and the US Open marked her 14th and 15th Grand Slam titles, and her only two losses during those last seven months of the year came at Roland Garros (to Virginie Razzano in the first round) and Cincinnati (to Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals).
Williams also picked up two more WTA doubles titles, her 13th Grand Slam doubles title at Wimbledon and third Olympic gold in doubles, with Venus.
Williams talked about her confidence and momentum after winning the WTA finale in Istanbul: "I've always said if I'm playing well and doing everything right, it's really difficult to beat me. I still believe that, which is great that I can still kind of play that way. I feel like there are always ways for me to improve, but I think it's a true statement, without trying to sound really full of myself or anything."
This is the fourth time Williams, who finished the year ranked No.3 in the world behind Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, has received Player Of The Year, having also won it in 2002 (when she finished No.1), 2008 (when she finished No.2 behind Jelena Jankovic) and 2009 (when she finished No.1).
In the 36-year history of the Player Of The Year award, Williams is one of only three players to win it more than twice, alongside eight-time winner Steffi Graf and seven-time winner Martina Navratilova. Four players have won the award twice - Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.
Player Of The Year was voted for by international tennis media. Check out a list of former winners of all of the WTA Player Awards by clicking here.
The rest of the WTA Player Awards - including the Fan Favorite Awards, which you voted for - will all be revealed right here on wtatennis.com on Friday...