Serena Williams officially accepted Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year award at a ceremony in New York City on Tuesday night.
In her acceptance speech, Williams spoke about the origins of her career—how she set a goal of winning Wimbeldon simply to copy her sister Venus—and how her journey in tennis made her proud to be honored with such an award.
“I believed that one day I would stand on that court and hold that winner’s trophy,” Williams said. “Now, 30 years later, I still have goals and I still have dreams of winning, and this award actually makes me want to work harder to reach more goals. I don’t know if that’s weird or not, but I just want to get off here and go home and start training because this is so awesome.”
Williams is the 10th woman to win Sportsperson of the Year, and the first woman to be honored individually since Mary Decker in 1983. In her speech, Williams called for other female athletes to be inspired to strive to stand out in a field often dominated by men.
“It had been over 30 years since the last time SI had recognized a woman for being Sportsperson of the Year,” Williams said. “So for all the ladies out there, yes, we can do it. When I first started playing tennis, women weren’t really encouraged to play sports let alone excel in sports. So my hope by winning this award I can inspire many many more women—in less than 30 years of course—to stand right here on this podium and accept another Sportsperson of the Year award. Yes, ladies, it can be done.”
- Erin Flynn