For the cover of the issue, which hits newsstands on Dec. 21, the world’s No.1-ranked tennis player isn’t wearing wearing one of her sporty-chic ensembles with NikeCourt sneakers. Instead, Wlliams dons a lace leotard and Stuart Weitzman patent leather black pumps. The Weitzman pumps, ironically, have the same name as her sister, Venus.
“This year was so spectacular for me. For Sports Illustrated to recognize my hard work, my dedication and my sheer determination gives me hope to continue on and do better,” she wrote on her Instagram. “As I always say, it takes a village — it’s not just one person. This is not just an accomplishment for me, but for my whole team. I am beyond honored. I love you guys! 2016? #letsdoit.”
Williams’ banner year included her second “Serena Slam” — winning all four major tournaments in a row. After winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015, Williams was poised to complete a Grand Slam — winning all four majors in a calendar year — by taking the U.S. Open. There, she suffered a heart-wrenching loss to Roberta Vinci in the finals.
Sports Illustrated wrote that Williams was chosen because of “her dominance in 2015, when she won 53 of 56 matches, three of the four Grand Slam events and built the most yawning ranking-points gap between her and her closest competitor in tennis history. We honor her, too, for a career of excellence.”
This year was spectacular for me. For @SportsIllustrated to recognize my hard work, my dedication, and my sheer determination gives me hope to continue on and do better. As I always say, it takes a village it's not just one person. This is not just an accomplishment for me, but for my whole team. I am beyond honored. I love you guys! 2016? #letsdoit ❤️💋