LeBron James, Serena Williams Claim AP 'Athlete of the Year' Titles

News & Views | Camille Travis | 12/27/2013 | 10:00 AM EST

Both sports greats say their striving to be even better

What's Good? LeBron James and Serena Williams!

Announced earlier this week, the sports greats have locked down The Associated Press' titles for Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year. James becomes just the third NBA player-- after Michael Jordan and Larry Bird-- to claim the honor, while Williams has scored her third award from AP after winning in 2002 and 2009.

"I'm chasing something and it's bigger than me as a basketball player," said James, who beat out the NFL's Peyton Manning and NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson. "I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people."

"Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero ... those things mean so much, and that's what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don't think this is the biggest role that I'm going to have."

In 2013, James won his second championship with the Miami Heat and took home his fourth MVP award along with an impressive stats sheet. Off the court, he tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson, signed on to executive produce a new sitcom, teamed with Audemars Piguet, nabbed his first film and began talks with David Beckham to bring a soccer team to Miami.

You know, the usual.

Williams didn't do too bad for herself either. The 32-year-old went 78-4 with 11 titles, which included the French Open and U.S. Open. The feats brought her Grand Slam championship total to 17, earning a record-breaking $12 million in prize money. Additionally, she became the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history in February.

"Whenever I lose, I get more determined, and it gives me something more to work toward," Williams told the AP. "I don't get complacent, and I realize I need to work harder and I need to do better and I want to do better — or I wouldn't keep playing this game."

James and Williams join a long list of sports legends such as Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Tiger Woods and others who have captured the title since the awards were first handed out in 1931.

(Photos from left: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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