Serena Williams Accepts Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award: 'This Only Makes Me Want to Work Harder'
"For all the ladies out there, yes, we can do it!" Serena Williams said as she accepted the coveted award
Tennis goddess Serena Williams, 34, is ending 2015 with an impressive resume.
This year alone she completed her second “Serena Slam,” released her new HSN statement collection at New York Fashion Week, showed off her incredible strength and beauty by posing (almost) nude in Pirelli’s 2016 calendar and, most recently, was awarded the high honor of becoming Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.
“This year has been incredible, but I’m always growing and changing,” Williams told PEOPLE at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award ceremony at New York’s Pier Sixty on Tuesday evening. “I want to keep going with things and improve next year!”
The sports icon wore a black, floor-length, lingerie-esque gown to the event and showed off a new short, wavy hairdo.
Williams, who arrived at the event with her mother, Oracene Price, and three sisters Lyndrea Price, Isha Price and Venus Williams, said she will be celebrating her accolade by spending time with her family.
“We are all going for group karaoke!” she said with a laugh. “We were preparing in the car on the way here actually. We do a mean rendition of ‘Faithfully.’ ”
The award show was a star-studded event – Concussion star Will Smith made a cameo appearance to present the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and Williams’ reported beau, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was spotted sitting at her family’s table.
Big sis Venus, who sported a custom dress designed by Williams, gave a teary introduction to her sister before presenting her award.
“Living her dream was more than living her own dream, she was living the world’s dream,” she told the crowd while wiping tears from her eyes. “It’s been an honor to be your big sister. It’s the best job in the world. I love you so much.”
Williams, the first solo female athlete to win the award since 1983, gave a moving acceptance speech encouraging female athletes everywhere to push their limits and be the “best you can be.”
“For all the ladies out there, yes, we can do it! We used to not be encouraged to play sports, let alone excel,” she said with a gleam in her eye. “My hope with winning this award is that I can encourage many more women to stand right here at this podium and accept another Sportsperson of the Year award. Yes, ladies, it can be done!”
Sure, 2015 was an impressive year for Williams. But she’s just getting started.
“This award only makes me want to work harder and reach more goals,” she added. “I don’t know if that’s weird or not but I want to go home and start training!”