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Sports Illustrated names Serena Williams 2015 Sportsperson of the Year

On and off the court, 2015 seemed to be the year of Serena Williams.

And now, Sports Illustrated is honoring the tennis superstar with its "2015 Sportsperson of the Year" distinction.

There were 12 contenders this year for the 2015 honor, which recognizes a person who embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.

Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price says Williams earned the distinction after winning 53 of 56 matches this year.

In September, Williams lost her bid for a calendar Grand Slam, losing in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open. Williams was the favorite to win and was contending to become the first player to sweep all four majors in the same year since Steffi Graf in 1988.

But the loss hasn't seemed to slow the younger Williams sister down.

She is still considered by many to be the best female tennis player of all time. She holds the most major singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles of all active players.

As the Sports Illustrated article points out, Williams has crossed over from the sports world, into the world of celebrity, too. From red carpets rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's elite, to President Obama saying he watches her, to J.K. Rowling coming to her defense, she has had a star worthy year all around.

On Monday morning, Williams posted the photo of her Sports Illustrated cover on Instagram.

"This year was spectacular for me," she wrote.

She thanked Sports Illustrated for recognizing her hard work and determination.

"As I always say, it takes a village it's not just one person," she said. "This is not just an accomplishment for me, but for my whole team. I am beyond honored."

In a Facebook post in November, Williams made headlines when she described an incident where a man tried to steal her cellphone at a Chinese food restaurant -- and she tracked him down to get it back, running through a restaurant to retrieve it. Eventually, once outside, he handed the phone over.

Security cameras outside the restaurant later showed the incident Williams had described.

Sports Illustrated readers chose Triple Crown winner American Pharoah as this year's winner in its readers' Sportsman of the Year poll.

Williams had only received 1 percent of the readers' votes.

Sports Illustrated said on their website that American Pharoah won 47 percent of the vote when the poll closed on Saturday night. The Kansas City Royals came in second place and Lionel Messi finished in third.

Even so, Williams remains on top of the magazine cover, and in the tennis world.

To read the entire Sports Illustrated profile on Serena Williams, click here.