Novak Djokovic pipped the likes of Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi to win the ‘Sportsman of the Year’ trophy for a third time, while Serena Williams clinched the top honour in the women’s category at the Laureus World Awards in Berlin Monday night.
Djokovic, who won this award in 2012 and ’15, walked away with it for a second successive time after clinching three Grand Slams – Australian, Wimbledon and US Open – last year.
He was also the finalist in the French Open.
“I am very proud of it. It wouldn’t have been possible without the great team that I have. I am grateful to the love and passion of tennis that brought me here. Sports has inspired me in so many different ways. I dedicate this award to two people who have inspired. I want to thank them for their legacy, My Nicki Lauda and Mr Johan Cryuff,” Djokovic said after being presented the trophy by current F1 leader Nico Rosberg.
Messi, who had been nominated for a fifth time, once again lost out on the top award.
“It’s probably a glitch we need to correct. Somebody like Messi ought to win this award. Maybe football being a team sport comes in the way,” Laureus academy member Steve Waugh said before the ceremony.
Williams was the overwhelming favourite after securing a record 10th nomination and thanks to her three Grand Slams last season, the American notched up her third ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ Laureus trophy.
In the other categories, American golf star Jordan Spieth, who was also nominated in the ‘Sportsman of the Year’ category, won the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ award. The 21-year-old Spieth is the reigning world No.1, who has already won the Masters and the US Open.
The world champion New Zealand rugby team notched up the ‘Team of the Year’ honour, while the star of their triump, Dan Carter, was picked for ‘Comeback of the Year’ for bouncing back remarkably following an injury breakdown in 2011.
Three-time Formula One world champion Nicki Lauda was presented the ‘Laureus Lifetime Achievement’ award.
“I dedicate this award to all the losers. Because it is after losing that I learnt the most,” the 67-year-old Austrian said after being presented the trophy by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Laureus Academy also paid tribute to the late Johan Cryuff, who passed away last month after battling cancer. Cryuff was chosen for the ‘Laureus Spirit of Sport’ award which was presented to his son Jordi by World Cup winning former Spanish defender Carles Puyol.