Broncos receiver Wes Welker picks up yardage after a catch against the New… (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )
Serena Williams nearly owned women's tennis in 2013, and the Associated Press took notice by selecting her the female athlete of the year.
Williams has won the award three times, tying golfer Annika Sorenstam and tennis player Maureen Connolly. Only track and golf star Babe Didrikson (6) and tennis star Chris Evert (4) have more selections since the award was first given in 1931.
Williams was a runaway winner in voting by the media, garnering 55 of 96 votes. Women's basketball player Brittney Griner was second with 14 votes.
The Compton native, who also was awarded the top female honor in 2002 and 2009, won the French Open and U.S. Open in a season in which she had a record of 78-4 and won 34 matches in a row at one point.
Williams has won 17 Grand Slam events. The only other women to win more majors are Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22), Helen Wills Moody (19), Martina Navratilova (18) and Evert (18).
Spartans suspend linebacker
Michigan State has suspended senior linebacker Max Bullough for violating team rules, making him ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl.
Coach Mark Dantonio that Bullough was suspended for the rest of the season. He did not say what rules Bullough violated and said there will be no further comment.
Bullough is a two-time team captain was named a third-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten this season.
Denver receiver Wes Welker returned to the Broncos' practice field on Christmas for the first time since suffering his second concussion Dec. 12. Also returning to practice was defensive end Derek Wolfe, who hadn't practiced since having a seizure-like episode on the team bus trip to the airport on Nov. 29. ... Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews will miss Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title after aggravating a right thumb injury. Matthews was hurt during a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Packers return to practice Thursday, when the team is expected to announce if quarterback Aaron Rodgers is ready to return from a broken collarbone.
New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick is blaming recently instituted NFL rules shortening off-season practice time for what he claims to be an increasing number of player injuries.
"I'm in favor of total preparation for the players for the season," Belichick said during a conference call with Buffalo reporters this week. "And I think that's been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers."
Mike Hegan, the former major league player who was a longtime broadcaster with the Cleveland Indians, has died. He was 71. Hegan hit .242 with 53 homers in 965 career games, playing first base and the outfield with three organizations Gunnar Ericsson, a longtime International Olympic Committee executive from Sweden and former member of the executive committee, has died. He was 94.