The Laureus World Sports Awards has a history of recognising tennis’ greatest achievers at the very highest level. Indeed, Laureus has awarded 23 Awards to tennis player since its inception in 2000. These awards recognize the incredible individual achievements of these elite tennis players, with their greatness often arbitrated by their ability to win tennis’ most valued events, the Grand Slams.
Summer begins and the eyes of the sporting world are turned to London’s SW19 for Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam of the tennis calendar. Following the hard courts of Melbourne and the red clay of Paris, the players will attempt to master the grass and be the last ones standing on Finals weekend.
Timeless legends of the sport such as Laureus Academy Members Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker, as well as Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg and others, have won Wimbledon, arguably the sport’s biggest prize. Certainly, they would have won many Laureus Awards among them, had they existed during their prime.
Interestingly, two of the last three Slams have been won by someone other than Laureus Award winners Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. But their supremacy at Wimbledon remains explicit: the last man to have won at SW19 other than the ‘big four’ was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. However, as we enter the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, that era of Grand Slam dominance seems to have come to an end, with surprise champions in the last few Slams which makes us wonder if a new face will be lifting the men’s trophy on July 12.
The great Roger Federer has won an incredible seven Wimbledon titles and four Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Awards, and is regarded as the greatest men’s player in history, with 17 Grand Slams to his name.
Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, has managed to conquer the grass twice with titles in 2008 and 2010 and is the only man to have won Laureus Newcomer, Sportsman and Comeback of the Year Awards.
Current World No.1 Novak Djokovic comes in as defending champion and will attempt to win a third Wimbledon crown. The Serb has also won two Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Awards.
Britain’s Andy Murray arrives to his home Grand Slam in, some would say, the best form of his career. Will the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year 2013 win again after his historic victory two years ago?
These four tennis icons are always the favourites coming into any tournament, but the focus will very much also be on the other serious contenders: French Open Champion Stan Wawrinka, former finalist Tomas Berdych, US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, and last year’s semi-finalists Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov will all look to win their first major on the grass.
On the women’s side, undisputed world No.1 Serena Williams comes in as heavy favourite and is looking to make it 3 out of 4 Grand Slams for the Year and four in a row after victories at the US Open last year, the Australian Open in January and the French Open earlier this month. Serena has won 20 Grand Slams in her career, cementing her name is tennis history, and is now chasing Steffi Graf’s all-time record of 22 Major titles.
Laureus has recognized Williams’ exceptional achievements over the years with the 2003 and 2010 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award and the 2007 Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.
Looking to upset the odds is defending Champion Petra Kvitova, former winner Maria Sharapova and Romania’s Simona Halep, who is chasing her first Slam.
Tennis is a highly combative, mentally engaging, and athletically demanding sport and, as the Laureus World Sports Awards have demonstrated, a truly global sport.
With six Laureus Award winners taking part at Wimbledon, it promises to be yet another historic two weeks. Will this year’s champions be recognized at the next Laureus World Sports Awards? Only time will tell. But for now, let’s sit back and enjoy the world’s greatest players battling it out on the world’s biggest stage.