Serena Williams, who held all four of tennis’s grand slam titles for the second time in her career and won 53 of 56 matches in 2015, was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine on Monday.
The 34-year-old accomplished her second ‘Serena Slam’ while battling a string of injuries, producing one of the greatest late-career runs in the history of any sport, the magazine said, hailing her a “global icon”.
“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 Sports Illustrated (SI) Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum.
Williams was ranked number one every week for the second consecutive year, and her three successive grand slam wins to start 2015 lifted her within one of Steffi Graf’s record 22 singles titles in the professional era.
Williams is the first woman to be recognized with the honor as an individual since Mary Decker in 1983, and the magazine took the opportunity to rename its award from Sportsman of the Year to Sportsperson of the Year.
Williams joins an elite group to have won the award, including Muhammad Ali (1974), Arthur Ashe (1992), LeBron James (2012), Michael Jordan (1991), Billie Jean King (1972), Joe Montana (1990) and Jack Nicklaus (1978).