This is AH-Mazing!
This year marks the first time that Sports Illustrated has made a shift in their awards for athletes of the year.
In the past, the famous sports magazine had awards for “Sportsman” or “Sportswoman of the year” but this year they’ve made a shift to change their award to “Sportsperson of the Year.”
And the winner of the prestigious first-time title is none other than tennis superstar Serena Williams!
Williams has had a sensational year! She won three major titles, remained Number 1 in her sport, won her 21st Grand Slam single title — only one shy of Steffi Graf‘s Open-era record — and overcame plenty of personal hurdles.
Sports Illustrated Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum said of the decision:
“She was the most deserving person for the award. She had an amazing year. The way she won her events; the fact that she’s done this for so many years at such a high level. She was a terrific candidate in a year of terrific candidates.”
Serena talked a bit about the challenges she’s faced this year — which included injuries like bone bruises and an elbow strain, as well as playing at the French Open with a temperature of 101. Williams recalled:
“I was crying so hard. I didn’t want to win. I just wanted to go home. I said, ├óΓé¼╦£I can’t play anymore.'”
FYI she did go on to win!
But that wasn’t the only adversity the 35-year-old faced as she also talked about how she’s grown up and matured over the years.
During the Australian Open final, the chair umpire made a call that Williams didn’t agree with.
Just a few years ago, Serena famously threatened a line judge for a foot-fault call and was fined $82,500. This time around though, the tennis star kept her cool. She explained:
“I just kind of laughed. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to laugh. I haven’t lost that part of me; I’m very passionate on the court, but I’ve learned to be fierce more on the inside. It was a Grand Slam final. I said, ├óΓé¼╦£Serena, just laugh. You’ve been here before.’ I learned from that experience.”
Her biggest challenge this year though came when she decided to return to Indian Wells — the site of a tournament where in 2001 she had previously been booed for scratching before the semi-final against her sister, Venus Williams.
The crowd was not happy, and the girls and their father, Richard, were allegedly racially abused by ticket holders as they left.
After the 2001 experience, Serena vowed to never return to Indian Wells, but this year she decided it was time to move on and put her past behind her and give it another shot.
Though she had to withdraw once again this year due to a knee injury, Williams explained:
“Everyone always asked, ├óΓé¼╦£What was your greatest moment in tennis?’ and I always said it hasn’t happened. But I think it has happened now, and that was going back to Indian Wells and playing. It released a lot of feelings that I didn’t even know I had. I was really surprised at how emotional I got├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥and how relieved I felt after everything was said and done.”
But the brunette beauty isn’t just a sensation on the court; she uses her star power to help bring attention to social issues in the world.
In October, she guest-edited for Wired magazine and had an essay published which urged Silicon Valley to hire more women and minorities. She wrote:
“To those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter. I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you.”
On her activism, she said:
“I’ve been a little more vocal, but I want to do more. I want to help everyone to see the so-called light. But there are a lot of other athletes, actors, politicians who are speaking out├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥of all colors, by the way. They’re not sitting back. They’re calling for justice straight away. It makes me look at myself and say, like, What am I doing? I have a platform. I can speak out, too. If one person hears me, maybe that person can speak out and help. I embrace that. I’m willing and happy to be part of this new movement.”
As for those dating rumors, the athlete explained:
“I hear I’m with someone new every week. I’m really happy right now.”
This is so incredibly inspirational and we couldn’t be happier about SI‘s pick this year!
[Image via Sports Illustrated.]