Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year.
If you're wondering why, I'd guess you're just now crawling out from under your rock. (Just kidding ... sort of.)
<p class="image-caption">Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.</p><h2>Williams' Sports Illustrated cover is just what you'd expect: fine, fresh, fierce, and exactly what <em>she</em> had in mind.</h2><p>The cover reflects her own expression of <strong>"femininity, strength & power,"</strong> the outlet reported on <a href="https://twitter.com/SInow/status/676410823884042241">Twitter</a>. And it doesn't disappoint.</p><p><img class="tweet-placeholder" data-content="The cover? Serena" data-tweet="https://twitter.com/SInow/status/676410823884042241" december="" egfcqwqtzq="" express="" femininity="" her="" https_="" idea="" ideal="" illustrated="" intended="" of="" own="" pic.twitter.com="" power="" s="" sports="" src="/assets/tweet-placeholder.png" strength="" sysvoiboxx="" t.co="" to=""></p><p>But the December issue isn't just fabulous — it's historic, too.<strong> The magazine's decision to honor her <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sports-awards-idUSKBN0TX1K120151214">marked the first time</a> an individual woman snagged the accolade since track star Mary Decker back in 1983.</strong><strong></strong><br></p><p><span class="redactor-invisible-space">It's about damn time.</span></p><h2 style="font-family: 'Avenir Next', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">On the tennis court, Williams has steamrolled the competition. Off of it, she demanded better of humanity.</h2><p>As <a href="http://www.si.com/sportsperson/2015/12/14/serena-williams-si-sportsperson-year">Sports Illustrated noted</a>, Williams has (yet again) dominated women's tennis, winning 53 of 56 matches and maintaining a #1 ranking throughout the year, for the second year in a row. </p><p>Just as admirably, Williams lent her voice to several causes — from <a href="http://www.si.com/sportsperson/2015/12/14/serena-williams-si-sportsperson-year">combating racial injustice</a> to <a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/10/serena-williams-guest-editor-race-gender-equality/">promoting women's equality</a> and <a href="http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/news/celebrity/2015/09/03/serena-williams-responds-to-body-shamers">silencing body-shaming haters</a> — and has made no apologies for her outspokenness along the way.</p><h2>Williams has been an icon and a role model in her own right for years.</h2><p>As a kid, when asked who she'd like to emulate if she were a famous tennis player, she had <a href="https://www.upworthy.com/proof-serena-williams-knew-she-was-a-badass-way-before-she-was-famous">one helluva answer</a>: <strong>"I'd like other people to be like me."</strong></p><p>That confidence grew up along with her, too, and it shows — like when she's defending herself against <a href="https://www.upworthy.com/when-a-reporter-asked-serena-williams-why-she-wasnt-smiling-she-told-him-the-honest-truth">ridiculous, sexist questions</a> from reporters or <a href="https://www.upworthy.com/serena-williams-is-too-busy-winning-to-care-what-people-say-about-her-body">brushing off body-shamers</a> who try to bring her down.</p><p>"I embrace me," <a href="https://www.upworthy.com/serena-williams-is-too-busy-winning-to-care-what-people-say-about-her-body">she told "Good Morning America"</a> in response to her critics. <strong>"I love how I look. I love that I'm a full woman and I'm strong and I'm powerful and I'm beautiful at the same time. There's nothing wrong with that. "</strong></p><p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUxNjY0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTAwMjU1N30.sKovMOhlOYP4RLYiU0KyFHga8conRN4EOLQ36ZY4S54/img.jpg?width=980" id="02b85" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a243898ae984a3dda071b2302616fbed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.</p><p><span class="redactor-invisible-space">Of course, as with all major awards and honors, there's been some <a href="http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/12/serena-williams-deserve-sportswoman-of-the-year-sportsman-sports-illustrated-grand-slam-tennis">controversy</a> over Williams landing the coveted Sportsperson of the Year slot. Some readers are upset she was chosen for the award <a href="http://mic.com/articles/130372/american-pharoah-or-serena-williams-internet-says-racehorse-was-sportsperson-of-the-year?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social#.QlgYMsOeR">over racehorse American Pharoah</a><span class="redactor-invisible-space"> (which is odd, because the award does go to a sports<em>person</em>). </span></span></p><p><span class="redactor-invisible-space"><span class="redactor-invisible-space">There was also some chatter about her cover being sexualized. But, again, Williams was in control of how she was portrayed — and it's not like past Sportsperson of the Year covers haven't been <a href="https://twitter.com/linzsports/status/676435198721019904">a bit steamy</a> anyway (yeah that's right, Michael Phelps, I'm talking to you). </span></span></p><h2>No matter what people say, the fact is: Serena Williams is more than deserving of this honor. </h2><p>The recognition she gets from it may mean the best for her has yet to come.</p><p>“This year was spectacular,” Williams said, according to Reuters.<strong> </strong><strong>"For Sports Illustrated to recognize my hard work, dedication and sheer determination with this award gives me hope to continue on and do better."</strong></p><p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUxNjY1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNjA1MzAzM30.SxKBbFMbUjXLJPszFLcSblQBBobITrz4sARNNz275lY/img.jpg?width=980" id="e97ea" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4e9c008b12ff27f0cf17758f638f6707" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.</p>
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