TENNIS powerhouse Serena Williams has been named Sportsperson of the Year in the highly anticipated Sports Illustrated awards on Monday December 14.
In a milestone for the sport, Williams fended off competition from Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi and racehorse American Pharoah who won the Kentucky Derby.
It has been a definitive year for Williams who has a firm claim on being the greatest tennis player in history, certainly in the women’s game.
2015 saw the 34-year-old win three grand slam titles, go 53-3 in matches, and, over the summer, amass so many ranking points that the gap between Williams and No.2 was greater than No.2 and No.1000.
With 21 grand slam titles to her name, she is just one shy of Steffi Graff’s open-era record, and already surpasses the male record set by Roger Federer at 17.
Her tennis record alone should secure the accolades but the Sportsperson of the Year award also reflects her battles overcoming illness and injury, whilst suffering sexist criticism and abuse, being defended by her own heroes, and becoming an icon outside the sport.
In March of this year she returned to the Indian Wells event after a 14-year boycott following racist crowd behaviour and allegedly deliberative mismanagement by organisers in 2001. This time she was treated as a conquering queen and the moment sealed the Williams sisters’ transformation from insurgent outsiders to dominant sporting legends.