Serena Williams has been named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year and is the first female athlete to be honored on her own in over 30 years.
Williams’ tennis year included winning five titles, including wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. With a 53-3 record at the end of 2015, Williams is ranked No. 1 in the Women’s Tennis Association.
“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,” Paul Fichtenbaum, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group, said in a release. “She was a terrific candidate in a year of terrific candidates.”
Fichtenbaum also commented on the name change of the award. Up until this year, it was known as the Sportswoman of the Year.
“We just felt this was a natural evolution. … We’re not making a huge deal out of it,” Fichtenbaum said. “It just feels like the right time to make the change.”
“Men’s sports has dominated until recently, when women’s sports has grown in popularity, and the competition is better than ever,” Fichtenbaum said. “There’s more of a focus on women’s sports now. It’s grown considerably. Specifically why? I’m not sure.”