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Sports in brief

TENNIS

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SERENA WINS FOURTH AP HONOR

Serena Williams spent a good portion of 2015 deflecting questions about whether she could complete the Grand Slam. After coming oh-so-close, she can acknowledge how much she cared about the rare feat.

"I wanted it. But … winning one (major title) is not easy. And then, (when) you have a 'bounty' on your head, it's even harder," she said with a laugh. "If you know anything about me, I hate to lose. I've always said I hate losing more than I like winning, so that drives me to be the best that I can be."

Williams' will was on display time and again, along with her best-in-the-game serve and other skills, fashioning comeback after comeback to nearly become the first tennis player in more than a quarter-century to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a season. In a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, Williams was chosen as the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fourth time.

Results were announced Friday.

Williams collected 50 first-place votes and 352 points. Carli Lloyd, whose hat trick in the final lifted the U.S. women's soccer team to the World Cup title, was the runnerup, with 14 first-place votes and 243 points. UFC star Ronda Rousey finished third, one spot ahead of the woman she stunningly lost to last month, Holly Holm.

The AP Male Athlete of the Year will be announced today.

Williams, who also won AP awards in 2002, 2009 and 2013, joined Chris Evert as a four-time honoree. The only woman with more AP selections is Babe Didrikson, with six — one for athletics in 1932, and five for golf from 1945-54.

SOCCER

Coach demands more concentration

Juergen Klopp wants Liverpool to improve its focus at the beginning of Premier League matches, starting against surprise league leaders Leicester today at Anfield. In three of Klopp's 15 matches as manager of Liverpool, the team has conceded a goal inside five minutes, including at Watford in a 3-0 defeat Sunday. That early goal paved the way for a dominant display by Watford at Vicarage Road and an emphatic defeat for Liverpool. Klopp is eager to see a response by his players. "We need to concentrate from the first second onwards," Klopp said. "We make difficulties by ourselves. We have to avoid starts in games like we have done too often this season. I want to defend a 1-0, not strike back after 0-1."

Et Cetera

BASEBALL: Second baseman Daniel Murphy's contract with the Nationals is for three years and $37.5 million. Murphy agreed to the deal Thursday.

SAILING: The Malaysian government said it has accepted the withdrawal of two Israeli windsurfers from the ISAF world youth sailing championships that begin Sunday.

Times wires

Sports in brief 12/25/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 25, 2015 9:16pm]
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