The magazine said it was honoring the 34-year-old icon both for her positively stunning numbers and her pluck in achieving what it called one of the greatest late-career runs in the history of any sport.
Williams won three major titles, triumphed in 53 of the 56 matches she played and ranked number one for every week of the season for the second straight year.
And for six weeks this season, Williams had twice as many ranking points as the world number two player. Sports Illustrated said this was a first in the 40-year history of the WTA rankings.
But those stats mask a year that was 'all internal discord and quelled revolts; Williams battled her body like never before' Sports Illustrated said.
In a powerful statement against racism, Williams also returned to play a tournament at Indian Wells, California, for the first time since 2001. That year she was greeted with boos and her family says she even endured racial slurs.
Williams called that return her 'greatest moment in tennis'. 

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