Tennis Player Djokovic, Gymnast Biles Win Top Laureus Awards

February 18, 2019 Updated: February 18, 2019

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic crowned a winning return to the courts after surgery with the Laureus sportsman of the year award on Feb. 18, while American gymnast Simone Biles won the sportswoman of the year prize.

Serbian Djokovic, who 12 months ago had elbow surgery, won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018, before lifting this year’s Australian Open crown, to add to his tally of Grand Slam singles titles and reclaim top spot in the rankings.

Laureus World Sportsman of The Year 2019 winner Novak Djokovic poses with all of his Laureus Awards he has won over the years on Feb. 18, 2019 in Monaco, Monaco. (Simon Hofmann/Getty Images for Laureus )

With his record seventh crown at Melbourne Park, Djokovic moved ahead of Pete Sampras into third on the men’s all-time list of Grand Slam title winners (15), just two behind Rafa Nadal. Roger Federer is still out in front with 20.

“I did think about leaving tennis,” Djokovic said on Monday. “I did not find myself in a good balance. It took me several months to find that purpose and meaning again. This award reflects and symbolizes this journey.

“Reflecting on the journey it seems like a fairytale story.”

Multiple Olympic champion Biles in November became the all-time leading world gymnastics championship gold medal winner with a record 14 golds.

Simone Biles of the USA competes on the the Floor
Simone Biles of the USA competes on the the Floor during day ten of the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Aspire Dome on Nov. 3, 2018 in Doha, Qatar. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

With 20 overall medals at the worlds, Biles, who has also won four Olympic golds, tied Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina for the most by a female gymnast in world championships competition. Her all-around world title was her fourth, also a record.

The comeback of the year award was handed to U.S. golfer Tiger Woods, who silenced even his harshest critics when he earned what some consider to be one of the greatest victories of his career at last year’s Tour Championship season finale.

Tiger Woods reacts to his putt on the South Course
Tiger Woods reacts to his putt on the South Course during the first round of the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Jan. 24, 2019 in San Diego, Calif. (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Woods, who collected the last of his 14 majors at the 2008 U.S. Open, has had plenty of health-related setbacks, having to endure several knee and back surgeries, and his career seemed to be nearing its end in 2017.

Japan’s world number one women’s tennis player Naomi Osaka, who lifted her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last year, and went on to claim the 2019 Australian Open, won the breakthrough of the year award.

Japan's Naomi Osaka poses for photographs with the championship
Japan’s Naomi Osaka poses for photographs with the championship trophy at the Brighton Beach in Melbourne on Jan. 27, 2019, a day after her victory against Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup
Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup during the Women’s Australian Open media opportunity at Brighton Beach on Jan. 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)
RECOMMENDED
TOP VIDEOS