December 11 - Novak Djokovic of Serbia and American Serena Williams are the 2012 International Tennis Federation (ITF) world champions, it has been confirmed.
Taking the title for the second successive year, Djokovic (pictured top) finished top of the world rankings - claiming the number one spot back from Switzerland's Roger Federer last month after losing it to him in July - and won six titles during 2012.
The 25-year-old Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist successfully defended his Australian Open title and won the ATP World Tour Finals, as well as reaching the Roland Garros and US Open finals.
"I am proud to have been named ITF World Champion for the second successive year," Djokovic said.
"It was very difficult to follow up such a successful season in 2011, but it was extremely satisfying to win another Grand Slam title, reach two other major finals and finish the year at number one."
A remarkable year for Williams sees her taking the ITF top spot ahead of Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova of Russia, in what is a women's champion title hat trick for the 31-year-old world number one.
She claimed Olympic gold in the women's singles and in the doubles alongside older sister Venus at the London 2012 Games, won Wimbledon and the US Open – taking her total number of Grand Slam titles to 15 -– and went on to capture the year-end WTA Championships to finish the season with a tour-best seven titles and a 58-4 win-loss record.
"It means a lot to be named ITF World Champion for the third time," Williams said.
"It has been such an amazing experience this year to win the Olympics and two Grand Slam tournaments, and I look forward to having an awesome 2013."
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti shared her pride, saying: "This has been another memorable year for our sport, highlighted by the most successful Olympic tennis event in history.
"In such a strong era for men's tennis, it is a great achievement for Novak to retain his year-end number one ranking, while on the women's side Serena proved herself to be one of the finest competitors of all time."
Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named men's doubles world champions for the ninth time in 10 years, after a season in which they captured their first Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon, having won bronze in Beijing 2008.
The brothers equalled the all-time record for Grand Slam doubles titles by capturing their 12th victory at the US Open, winning a total of five more events in 2012 to stand at 82 career titles, and were runners-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
"Mike and I are very grateful for receiving this honour, and we'd like to thank the ITF for this prestigious award," Bob explained.
"This is one of our achievements that we are most proud of, and we look forward to celebrating it next year in Paris."
Meanwhile, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the first all-Italian pairing to be named women's doubles world champions, claiming the title after capturing their first two Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, and end the year as the number one ranked team.
The duo were also runners-up at the Australian Open and won a tour-high eight titles during the year, including five successive tournament wins between April and June.
Errani said: "We have had an amazing year and are proud to be named ITF World Champions.
"There have been so many highlights in singles and doubles, but we are very happy to be the first Italian pair to finish the season at number one.
"We're already looking forward to next season."
Filip Peliwo of Canada and America Taylor Townsend are named ITF junior world champions.
Peliwo is only the second Canadian after Daniel Nestor to be named world champion in any category after securing the year-end number one junior boys ranking.
The 18-year-old became the first player since Mark Kratzmann in 1984 to reach all four junior Slam finals in a calendar year, losing his first two finals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, before winning Wimbledon and the US Open.
"This is such a great achievement and a huge honour to be recognised by the ITF for this award," Peliwo said.
"I exceeded even my own expectations this past year and to have the year-end number one ranking is something really special that I am proud of."
Townsend, meanwhile, is the first American girl since Gretchen Rush in 1982 to be named junior world champion.
The 16-year-old captured her first major singles title at the Australian Open, and narrowly failed to achieve the Grand Slam in doubles, winning three titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as leading her country to victory in the finals of the Junior Fed Cup.
Townsend said: "It's a great honour.
"I mean, there's so much that goes into the title World Champion, and I'm honoured and blessed that they would even crown me that."
The ITF's selection of its senior world champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, the Olympics and two ITF international team competitions, the Davis Cup and Fed Cup.
Bitti added: "I would like to pay tribute to all the 2012 ITF World Champions, who have contributed to a successful year for the sport at all levels."
The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on June 4 2013, in Paris, during Roland Garros.
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