By Tennis Week
Serena Williams returned to the All England Club seeking to reclaim the Wimbledon title she last won in 2003, but regardless of her results at the grass-court Grand Slam, Williams has already earned the top spot in the rankings according to the American public.
The eight-time Grand Slam champion occupies the top spot as America's favorite female sports star, succeeding older sister Venus, who ranked as the third favorite female athlete among Americans surveyed in a Harris Poll.
For the second straight year, tennis made a strong showing as four of the top 10 favorite female athletes are current or former tennis players: Serena tops the list, Venus, who was No. 1 last year, falls to third behind race car driver Danica Patrick, reigning U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova ranks fifth and former Wimbledon semifinalist Anna Kournikova comes in at ninth on the list.
Golfer Tiger Woods topped the list as America's favorite male athlete for the second straight year. Woods is followed by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, former NBA standout Michael Jordan, Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. None of the top 10 men in the poll are tennis players.
Serena Williams is the number one female sports star with both men and women. Among generations, there is a split as the youngest (Echo Boomers) and oldest (Matures) both say Danica Patrick is their favorite while the middle age groups, Gen X and Baby Boomers, both say Serena Williams.
Race also shows a difference in preference. Whites say Patrick is their favorite, blacks select Serena and Hispanics cite Sharapova as number one.
The top 10 favorite female athletes among Americans according to the Harris poll are:
The break down of favorite female athlete by category includes:
Men: Serena Williams
Women: Serena Williams
Echo Boomers (those ages 18 to 29): Danica Patrick
Gen X (those ages 30 to 41): Serena Williams
Baby Boomers (those ages 42 to 60): Serena Williams
Matures (those ages 61 and older): Danica Patrick
White: Danica Patrick
Black: Serena Williams
Hispanic: Maria Sharapova
Simply Stunning, Simply Serena
57 Consecutive Weeks as World #1
Olympic Gold Medalist ('00 Doubles w/ Venus)