Serena Williams honored as SI’s Sportsperson of the Year

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year — the first female athlete honored on her own by the magazine in more than 30 years.

Williams came within two matches of tennis’ first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988, a bid that ended with a semifinal loss at the U.S. Open.

In all, the 34-year-old American went 53-3 during 2015 with five titles, including at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Williams was No. 1 in the WTA rankings all season.

“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,” said Paul Fichtenbaum, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group. “She was a terrific candidate in a year of terrific candidates.”

Monday’s announcement marks a switch to the formal name of the SI award; past recipients were touted as Sportsman or 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.”

Runner Mary Decker in 1983 was the last female athlete to earn the magazine’s award by herself.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team was picked by SI in 1999; speedskater Bonnie Blair in 1994 and gymnast Mary Lou Retton in 1984 were co-honorees with male Olympians.

“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.”

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.