Tennis star Novak Djokovic, record-breaking gymnast Simone Biles, golfing legend Tiger Woods and the World Cup champion French football team bagged the top honours at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards here. Djokovic fought off tough competition from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Eliud Kipchoge and LeBron James to win the Laureus 'World Sportsman of the Year Award' on Monday night.
Djokovic, who won the last three Grand Slams including the Australian Open last month, after returning from elbow surgery, equalled the great Usain Bolt by winning the top Laureus award for the fourth time. Roger Federer has won it a record five times. "Last year was an incredible season for me, returning from injury to win Wimbledon and the US Open is something I'll remember forever. I am delighted and I would like to thank the Laureus Academy for their support," said the Serbian.
The Laureus World Sports Academy – made up of 68 global sporting legends – volunteered their time to vote for the winners in each shortlisted category which recognises sporting achievement in 2018. The Awards were hosted by actor James Marsden and featured entertainment from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jorja Smith.
Gymnast Simone Biles was crowned 'Sportswoman of the Year' after her record-breaking performance at the World Championships, in which she won four gold, one silver and one bronze medal. Biles, who also won the same Award in 2017, made history last year by becoming the first woman to win four all-around world championships. At just 21, she now has a record 14 career world titles.
FIFA World Cup winners France became the first national football team to win a second Team of the Year Award, fighting off competition from the world-leading teams across a range of sports including Mercedes AMG Petronas F1, Golden State Warriors and Real Madrid. French coach Didier Deschamps was in Monaco to accept the award on behalf of the team. Japan's first Grand Slam tennis star Naomi Osaka received the 'Breakthrough of the Year Award' for her victory in the US Open, where she defeated five-time Laureus Award winner Serena Williams.
Osaka, 21, who is now number one in the world after recently winning the Australian Open, makes history as Japan’s first Award winner. Golfing star Woods won his third Laureus Award, after winning the 'Sportsman of the Year' accolade in 2000 and 2001.
The American, who was not present, won the 'World Comeback of the Year' Award for winning the Tour Championship, his first win in 1,876 days. Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat was nominated in this category and she attended the ceremony. The 17-year-old American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim, who became the youngest woman to win a Winter Olympics snowboarding gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games, won the 'Action Sportsperson of the Year' Award.
Slovak alpine skier Henrieta Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova won the 'Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability' Award. They have become the most decorated Winter Paralympian pair in Pyeongchang with four gold medals in vision-impaired Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super Combined and Super-G, plus silver in Slalom. Yuwa, a sport for development organisation that works in the rural region of Jharkhand in northern India, received the Laureus Sport for Good Award for their life-changing work in using football to improve the lives of young girls from disadvantaged communities.
The Laureus Academy recognised marathon world record breaker Eliud Kipchoge with the Exceptional Achievement Award. Kipchoge, who ran the fastest time ever in a marathon in Berlin with a time of 2 hours 1 min 39 seconds, broke the previous record by a massive 1 min 18 seconds.
Legendary football manager Arsene Wenger received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to football during his 22 years as manager of Arsenal. Wenger received a guard of honour at the ceremony from legendary Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and football legends Alessandro Del Piero, Luis Figo, Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps, Cafu and Alex Scott.
Skiing great Lindsey Vonn's incredible career was recognised by the Academy with the Spirit of Sport Award.