Three cheers for Serena Williams!
Sports Illustrated has named the tennis great its 2015 Sportsperson of the Year—and for good reason. Williams has had one of the most impressive tennis careers on record, and this year included a seemingly endless string of achievements.
Though she was plagued by illness throughout the season, Williams won titles at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open, and came within two games of winning the U.S. Open—arguably among the biggest upsets in tennis history—dashing her dreams of a calendar-year Grand Slam. Still, she raked in more than $10 million in prize money in 2015, bringing her career total to more than $74 million.
Williams has been called the “greatest athlete of her time,” “America’s greatest athlete” and the “greatest athlete of all time.” She’s won 21 Grand Slam singles titles in the course of her career, and has won two “Serena Slams”—four Grand Slam titles in a row, though not in the same calendar year.
And yet, despite her clear excellence, she ranks 47th on Forbes‘ list of highest-paid athletes and has battled body-shaming comments for decades. Sports Illustrated readers even suggested that American Pharaoh, a race horse, was more deserving of the Sportsperson of the Year title than Williams—who, by the way, is only the third woman ever to win the award outright.
A combination of racism and white beauty norms have kept Williams from being fully appreciated for the truly great athlete she is, but we’re glad to see her receive this honor. It’s about time.