Four Americans -- Serena Williams, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan and Taylor Townsend – have been selected by the International Tennis Federation as 2012 ITF World Champions, joining some of tennis’ top names in receiving the prestigious honor this year.
For Williams, it is the third time in her career that she has received the honor of being named Women’s World Champion, also winning in 2002 and 2009. The 31-year-old captured Olympic singles gold for the first time and won Wimbledon and the US Open to take her total number of Grand Slam singles titles to 15. Williams also this year captured the year-end WTA Championships to finish the season with a tour-best seven titles and a 58-4 win-loss record.
"It means a lot to be named ITF World Champion for the third time," said Williams. "It has been such an amazing experience this year to win the Olympics and two Grand Slam tournaments, and I look forward to having an awesome 2013."
Bob and Mike Bryan have been named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the ninth time in 10 years after a campaign in which they captured their first Olympic gold medal at the London Games. The brothers equaled the all-time record for Grand Slam doubles titles by capturing their 12th title at the US Open and were also runners-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. They won five other events in 2012 and now own 82 career titles.
"Mike and I are very grateful for receiving this honor, and we'd like to thank the ITF for this prestigious award," Bob Bryan said. "This is one of our achievements that we are most proud of."
Townsend is the first American girl since Gretchen Rush in 1982 to be named Junior World Champion. The 16-year-old captured her first major junior singles title at the Australian Open and narrowly failed to achieve the Grand Slam in junior doubles, winning three titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. She also led the U.S. to victory in the finals of the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.
Townsend said, "It’s a great honor. I mean, there’s so much that goes into the title World Champion, and I’m honored and blessed that they would even crown me that."
Current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia was named the 2012 ITF Men’s Singles World Champion. This is the second successive year Djokovic has received this honor. The 25-year-old successfully defended his Australian Open title and went on to reach the finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. Despite losing the No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer in July, he regained the top position in November and went on to win the ATP World Tour Finals. He won a total of six titles in 2012.
"I am proud to have been named ITF World Champion for the second successive year," Djokovic said. "It was very difficult to follow up such a successful season in 2011, but it was extremely satisfying to win another Grand Slam title, reach two other major finals and finish the year at No. 1."
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy are the first all-Italian pairing to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions. The duo captured their first two Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open and were also runners-up at the Australian Open. Canada’s Filip Peliwo was named ITF Junior Boys’ Singles World Champion, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Esther Vergeer of Netherlands and France’s Stephane Houdet..
"This has been another memorable year for our sport, highlighted by the most successful Olympic tennis event in history," ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said. "In such a strong era for men’s tennis, it is a great achievement for Novak to retain his year-end No. 1 ranking, while on the women’s side, Serena proved herself to be one of the finest competitors of all time.
"I would like to pay tribute to all the 2012 ITF World Champions, who have contributed to a successful year for the sport at all levels."
The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday, June 4, in Paris during Roland Garros.