Sports Illustrated Serves Williams with SOTY Title

Serena Williams SI

It recognises her three major title wins and completion of the Serena Slam; she has won three Grand Slams since the 2014 U.S. Open

Time’s Sports Illustrated has named tennis star, Serena Williams, its 2015 Sportsperson of the Year, an honour recognising her three major title wins and completion of the Serena Slam. The athlete has bagged four consecutive Grand Slam titles which date back to the 2014 U.S. Open.

Acing 53 out of 56 matches, she secured top rank every week for the second year in a row and is now one short of Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam singles titles record in the Open Era. The 34-year-old accomplished the wins while battling a string of injuries, only to produce one of the greatest late-career runs in the history of any sport.

Williams was also a force off the court, making a powerful statement by returning to play a tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., for the first time since 2001, when she was greeted there with boos and, her family has charged, racist slurs. Williams used her return as an opportunity to speak out against injustice and called her decision to play at Indian Wells her “greatest moment in tennis.”

She has also utilised her broad platform to advocate for racial justice, gender equality, and equal access to education around the world. As SI’s Sportsperson of the Year, she joins an elite group which includes icons like Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King, Joe Montana, and Jack Nicklaus.

Since 1954, Sports Illustrated editors have annually presented the award to the athlete, team or coach who transcended the year in sports by achieving the highest level of athletic excellence, while demonstrating the ideals of sportsmanship. She is the first woman to be awarded the title as an individual since Mary Decker in 1983.

“Serena has made a very strong case as not only the greatest tennis player of her generation but of all time, and after the string of performances she put together in 2015, she is one of the most dominant athletes playing today,” said Paul Fichtenbaum, Group Editor of Sports Illustrated.

Williams will be honoured on 15 December 2015 in New York along with Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award recipient, Jack Nicklaus; Reece Whitley, 2015 Sports Illustrated Kids Sports Kid of the Year; and one more. Event sponsors include Chase, Gatorade, Johnnie Walker, New York Life, and Robert Graham.

Media behemoth, Time Inc, has a monthly global print audience of over 120 million and worldwide digital properties attracting more than 150 million monthly visitors including over 60 websites. Its brands include People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Time, Real Simple, and Southern Living, as well as more than 50 diverse titles in the United Kingdom.