In Sheryl Sandberg's Dark Hour, There Was ... Serena
Tennis great wins Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2015 4:40 PM CST
This photo provided by Sports Illustrated shows the cover of the 2015 "Sports Person of the Year" magazine issue, featuring tennis player Serena Williams.   (Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated via AP)

(Newser) Sports Illustrated bestows its Sportsperson of the Year award on "the athlete or team whose performance that year embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement." And for more than three decades, that sportsperson has been a sportsman. No more. This year the crown has gone to Serena Williams, who the Huffington Post reports is the first "individual female athlete" chosen since track's Mary Decker got the honor in 1983.

  • Her friend Sheryl: You can, and should, read SI's full piece. But if you don't have the time, Time excerpts a fascinating and poignant aspect to Williams' off-court life: her friendship with Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Time describes Williams as one of Sandberg's "key supporters" in the wake of husband Dave Goldberg's accidental death. "I just kept getting these messages from Serena, literally every couple of days—for months," says Sandberg.
  • Her not-perfect diet: Also in the "don't have time" category: Sports Illustrated itself pulls out five things it learned via its own cover story, which was written by S.L. Price. On its list: She loves Chik-fil-A, and is a picky eater in general. From Price's piece: "She’s sitting in her breakfast nook in Bel Air, eating an indeterminate bowl of takeout. Could be Chick-fil-A; Williams says she’s addicted."

  • About that horse: The selection of Williams may be a win for women, but it's apparently a huge loss for the animal kingdom. The Los Angeles Times reports that "a lot of people seem to be upset" about her win, and had apparently been gunning for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to be named top sportsperson. The LAT runs down some of the problems with that.
  • Perspective, people: In the end, it doesn't matter that much, writes Chris Chase in a For the Win column for USA Today. "Frankly, it’s an overwrought award," he argues, pointing out that "in 1987, the award was presented to eight 'Athletes Who Care.' So let’s not act like this thing is the end-all, be-all of sports awards. It has to be picked with sales and attention in mind and Serena Williams in a sexy pose is far better than another picture of American Pharoah."