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Champions of Health & Fitness 2010

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Comeback Queen: Serena Williams

Even sports heroes have bad days, as Serena Williams's infamous outburst at the U.S. Open last fall reminded us. But the true mark of greatness isn't being perfect. It's being willing and wise enough to learn from your mistakes. And that's exactly what Williams did in the wake of getting hit with a record $92,500 fine. Instead of just paying the penalty, she announced that she would raise the same amount to give to schools. Calling her effort the 92K Mission, Williams wrote on her Web site, "This experience has educated me beyond belief, so I would also like to take this opportunity to educate women."

That's the story of her career: making the consummate return. Her spirit, like her forehand, is an unstoppable force. Four years ago Williams was in 140th place, hobbled by injuries and devastated by the murder of her half-sister. Speculation had it that she was finished. Last year the court's supreme warrior goddess roared back, reclaiming the number-one spot in women's tennis. As Williams says in her memoir, On the Line, "Just tell me 'No' and watch what happens."

So far she has racked up 23 Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals, and more prize money than any female athlete in history. But Williams isn't counting. "I don't want to be remembered for the number of Grand Slams," she has said. What matters more and more to her is her good works off the court: supporting UNICEF's mission to combat malaria, visiting orphanages for children with AIDS, opening a girls' school in Matooni, Kenya (with one in Senegal to follow).

Larger than life yet still willing to grow, Williams keeps inspiring us all. "It's in the picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off and pushing ourselves forward that we find our will, our drive, our purpose," she says.

-- Lynn Harris

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shell813@gmail.com wrote:

What a great story - kuddos!

3/26/2010 01:16:40 PM Report Abuse

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