LONDON: U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu was voted the BBC’s sports personality of the year Sunday to cap an incredible rise throughout 2021.
The 19-year-old Raducanu became the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title with her triumph in New York in September after not dropping a set in the tournament.
She was the first British woman since Virginia Wade in 1977 to win a major tournament, enabling her to beat Olympic gold medalists — diver Tom Daley and swimmer Adam Peaty — to the BBC honor.
“All the support I’ve received this past year has been absolutely insane,” Raducanu said, “and the energy I felt at Wimbledon this year playing in front of my home crowd is something I’ve never felt before.”
Gareth Southgate won the coach of the year award after steering the England men’s football team to its first major final in 55 years at the European Championship. England was beaten on penalties by Italy in the final at Wembley Stadium in July, but the achievement was also recognized with the team of the year accolade.
Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore was voted world sports star of the year. She was the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and followed up a month later with victory at the Grand National — the first woman to triumph in the race.
Four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles was given the BBC’s lifetime achievement award.