Our experts have put their heads together to create a six-woman shortlist for Sport360’s 2016 International Sportswoman of the Year.
In contention this year are: Angelique Kerber, Katie Ledecky, Katinka Hosszu, Nafissatou Thiam, Serena Williams and Simone Biles.
You can VOTE BELOW for your winner, and in the coming days also vote in other international and regional categories. It is an all-out celebration of the great and the good of the sporting world over the past 12 months and the outcome is IN YOUR HANDS!
On Wednesday we’ll reveal our international team of the year shortlist, followed by our regional selections.
It was a breakthrough year for the German powerhouse. Kerber was the standout tennis player of 2016, winning her first two Grand Slams – the Australian Open and the US Open – and also reaching the Wimbledon final. She had to settle for a silver the Rio Games but she continued her fine form throughout 2016. In all, Kerber was a finalist at seven events in the year and became the 12th player in WTA tennis history to finish the year as world No. 1.
It came as no surprise when Kerber was unanimously voted the 2016 WTA Player of the Year. In fact, Kerber received all 50 votes during the award selection process and also got the approval of former world No. 1 Serena Williams.
The American teenager made a massive splash at the Rio Games, shattering the field by unheard of margins.
Ledecky won four gold medals (three individual) and a silver at the Olympics, setting two individual world records in the process and also becoming the first woman to sweep the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events at the Olympics in 48 years.
In fact, in the 800m freestyle final, Katie won with a world record time of 8:04.79, which was an incredible 11 seconds faster than the silver medallist, Jazmin Carlin.
Ledecky’s seven individual golds at the World Aquatics Championships and 11 combined individual titles at the Olympics and World Aquatics Championships are records in women’s swimming. And as icing on top of a magnificent cake, Ledecky became the youngest person named to the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world this year.
The dynamic Hungarian swimmer had a memorable 2016. The ‘Iron Lady’ won three gold medals and a silver at the Rio Olympics, and also broke the world record in 400m individual medley and Games record in 200m individual medley. Her individual medal haul was the most by any swimmer at the Rio Olympics, a truly remarkable achievement.
It was an astonishing effort from Katinka, especially after the pain of missing out on a medal at London 2012 following which she nearly gave up. However, with support from husband and coach Shane Tusup, Katinka regained her touch and at the age of 27, beat much younger opponents.
The champions swimmer than capped off a successful year by winning her sixth gold medal at the World short-course Swimming Championships.
Thiam showed great resilience to overcome Jessica Ennis-Hill’s challenge in the women’s heptathlon to win gold in Rio, scoring 6,810 points to break the Belgian national record.
The 22-year-old heptathlete showed that she has a bright career ahead of her by winning gold in her first Olympic Games. Needing to finish less than 10 seconds behind Jessica in the final event – the 800m – Thiam dug deep to register her fifth personal best of the competition and finish just over seven seconds behind the British athlete. It was a clinical performance all the way.
2016 was the year when the American great finally tied Steffi Graf’s record of 22 grand slam singles titles in the Open Era. By defeating Angelique Kerber in the final at the All England Club, the 35-year-old won her seventh Wimbledon crown and now stands just behind Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24.
No wonder many are calling Serena the greatest female tennis player of all time. However, by the middle of the year, her fitness began to waver and she suffered shoulder inflammation. And even though she struggled at the Rio Olympics and had to withdraw from the year-ending WTA Finals, Serena made her mark by extending her reign as world No1 to the 186th consecutive week until September. That run did come to an end but we expect the American star to get back on top soon.
The Rio Games was Biles’ first Olympic appearances but even before she set foot in the arena, the teenager was expected to dominate.
The 19-year-old from Texas, a three-time world all-around champion, won four gold medals and a bronze at Rio, and that too in some style; she grabbed the individual all-around gold by a staggering margin of 2.1 points.
With a combined total of nineteen Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles became the most decorated American gymnast and it came as no surprise that she was asked by Team USA to be the flag bearer during the Rio Games closing ceremony.
In a poignant moment during her victorious campaign in Rio, Biles, when asked about comparisons with other Olympic legends, simply said: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”