Serena Williams was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year for 2015 on Monday, beating out a non-human rival.
While Williams clearly had a fantastic year, winning three-quarters of the Grand Slam before falling in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, she had been badly beaten in an SI online poll.
That showed the overwhelming choice to be American Pharoah, who ended horseracing’s long Triple Crown drought, then became the first horse to complete the Grand Slam with an emphatic win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In the end, though, American Pharoah’s candidacy had two major flaws – his Grand Slam only involved a little more than eight minutes of racing and, as easy as it was for online voters to ignore him, he’s technically not a person. Not even Secretariat won the award, which has only gone to humans since it was established in 1954.
Williams went 56-3 in 2015, winning three Grand Slam titles at the age of 34 – 16 years after winning the U.S. Open in 1999. She now has 21 career Grand Slam singles titles, only one behind Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era.
Williams’ two strongest human competitors were probably Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters and U.S. Open as part of a spectacular season, and Steph Curry, who led the Golden State Warriors to the 2015 NBA title and a 24-0 start to the 2015-16 season.