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Megan Rapinoe Becomes Fourth Woman to Win Sportsperson of the Year Unaccompanied


U.S. Women's National Team star Megan Rapinoe has been named Sports Illustrated's 2019 Sportsperson of the Year, becoming only the fourth woman in the award's 66-year history to win it unaccompanied.

Rapinoe joins Chris Evert, Mary Decker and Serena Williams on the prestigious list.

A 21-year-old Evert became the first female sole recipient of the award after defeating ​Evonne​ Goolagong in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals in 1976. She was the best player in women's tennis at the time after winning two Wimbledons, two U.S. Opens, two French Opens, two Italian Opens, three Virginia Slims championships and 101 consecutive matches on clay from 1974–76.

Mary Decker was SI's second sole female recipient in the history of the award. Nicknamed "Double Decker," she won the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki. Along with her world championship medals, Decker set three American records and one world record that year, while going undefeated in 20 finals on three indoor and 16 outdoor tracks, as well as on one road surface.

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Williams won the award in 2015 after winning three Grand Slam singles titles and going 53–3. For six weeks in the summer of 2015—and for the first time in the 40-year history of the WTA rankings—Williams amassed twice as many ranking points as the world No. 2; at one point that gap grew larger than the one between No. 2 and No. 1,000. She also became the first tennis player to win the award since Arthur Ashe in 1992.

Rapinoe received the honor this year after winning the World Cup with the USWNT and being a vocal activist for equality. After saying she wouldn't visit the White House and being called out on Twitter by President Donald Trump, Rapinoe responded with an iconic goal celebration in the quarterfinal match against France when she struck a pose with her arms outstretched. The image quickly went viral on social media and the world turned it into a symbol for her patriotism and activism. Her dominance on and off the pitch turned her into a voice for many around the world.

Seven other women have shared the award with other recipients in past years, including Billie Jean King, Mary Lou Retton, Judi Brown, Patty Sheehan, Bonnie Blair, the 1999 USWNT team and Pat Summit.

You can read Rapinoe's cover story with Jenny Vrentas here and look back at some of her best moments in 2019 here.

The SI Sportsperson of the Year event will take place on Dec. 9 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.