Two of Team USA’s biggest superstars shined the brightest at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 36th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Tuesday night in New York.
Tennis player Serena Williams and soccer player Carli Lloyd capped off banner seasons when they were crowned the 2015 Sportswomen of the Year – Williams for an individual sport and Lloyd for a team sport. Each athlete was selected by a 50-50 vote (50 percent fan vote, 50 percent awards committee) out of a field of 10 finalists who were nominated for their accomplishments between Aug. 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015.
The award marked Williams’ second Sportswoman of the Year award, but first in the individual category. She won the team award with sister and doubles partner Venus in 2000 after winning their first Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Games. Serena’s individual win is the first individual win for a tennis player since the award’s current format began in 1993.
The four-time Olympic champion was flawless in the Women’s Sports Foundation’s timeframe, winning all four Grand Slams. She won her sixth US Open title in September 2014 and sixth Australian Open title in January 2015, followed by her third French Open title in June 2015 and sixth Wimbledon title in July 2015, which completed her career-second non-calendar year Grand Slam of holding all four titles at once. She then attempted to win the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, but fell two wins short at the 2015 US Open.
Lloyd joined a storied history of U.S. soccer players to earn the Sportswoman of the Year team award. Current teammates Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were chosen for the award in 2011 and 2012, while legend Mia Hamm won in both 1997 and 1999.
Lloyd, a two-time Olympic champion, scored 19 international goals in the award timeframe, highlighted by her historic performance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July 2015. The midfielder scored six goals in the tournament, three of which came in the final, where she scored the quickest goal in Women’s World Cup final history (2 minute, 35 seconds) and became the first female to score three goals in a Women’s World Cup final. Lloyd was also awarded the Golden Ball as MVP of the tournament and claimed the Silver Boot as the second-highest scorer of the tournament.
Wheelchair marathon legend Tatyana McFadden took home one of the night’s other awards, the 2015 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. The 10-time Paralympic medalist in track and field will aim for her third consecutive marathon grand slam at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1. Past recipients of the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award include skeleton athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace, judoka Kayla Harrison, tennis player Martina Navratilova and track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed,” McFadden said Tuesday night, according to the Women's Sports Foundation.