Forget the Hollywood version. The Oscars of world sport, the nominations for the Laureus Awards, were just announced. And tennis dominated the field with nominations in five of the seven categories.
World Number 1 Roger Federer, top golfer Tiger Woods, and seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher lead the nominations for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award. They are all two-time winners, and there will be a heated rivalry among them to see who can be the first to make it three. Will those Gillette razors get a work-out? Let’s hope not. It’s been kind of nice to watch Woods and Fedman being buds.
Tennis’ top three female players are also in a battle for the World Sportswoman of the Year prize: French Open champion Justine Henin, Wimbledon winner Amélie Mauresmo and US Open champion Maria Sharapova. Mauresmo picked up another nomination for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after winning two Grand Slam titles in 2006. While tennis stands a good chance in the Sportswoman category, Mauresmo faces some stiff competition in Breakthrough from track and fielder Xavier Carter, and German swimmer Britta Steffen.
Serena Williams got a nomination for Comeback of the Year for her triumph at this year’s Australian Open, and dramatic rise from 140 in the rankings to number 15. As a late-comer to the noms process, she may have the hardest row to hoe against boxer Roy Jones Jr. and French soccer star Zinedine Zidane.
Tennis may also seal a win with Dutch World Number 1 Wheelchair Champ Esther Vergeer, winner of the Laureus Disability Award in 2002. Vergeer has been nominated for the fourth time after a three-year unbeaten run and a sensational 2006 season.
Federer is celebrating his 161st consecutive week as Number 1, having eclipsed Jimmy Connors‘ 30-year-old record after dominating men’s tennis for the past three years. In his press conference in Dubai yesterday, he said, “It’s always hard to compare different sports. But I think when other athletes actually, like at the Laureus, for instance, they vote for their respective best athlete, I think that kind of is the best thing actually which can — they have the most knowledge of how tough sports is and they can maybe make the best judgment. I think Michael Schumacher, me and Tiger, we’ve all won twice. Lance Armstrong won. It really shows they’ve picked it seems the best of that year. I think we’ll see maybe this year again who they’re going to vote. I have had maybe my best year. I hope I can win again. I think it’s great when other former athletes vote for the ones who are competitive now.”
Let’s just hope that if he wins, that his acceptance speech is a little more coherent.
Since its inception in 2000, the Laureus nominations have been completed by a Selection Panel, compiled from votes by 1,068 sports journalists from 128 countries. Of the 43 nominations, 25 are from European countries, 12 from the U.S. and one each from Australia, New Zealand, China, Ghana, Jamaica and Iran. The nominations for the Action Sportsperson of the Year and the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability are produced by Specialist Panels.
The members of the Laureus Academy, made up of world sporting greats, vote by secret ballot to select all of the winners. They will be announced at a televised ceremony at the Palau Sant Jordi, in Barcelona, on the evening of Monday, April 2.
As they say in the Oscars, just being nominated is an achievement. Congratulations and best of luck to all of them.
Check out all the nominations here.
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