Emma Raducanu led a British hat-trick at the Laureus World Sports Awards by winning Breakthrough of the Year for her fairytale US Open tennis triumph.
Schoolgirl skateboarder Sky Brown, who won Comeback of the Year, and BMX rider Beth Shriever, who won Action Sportsperson of the Year, were the other Brits to be honoured at the virtual ceremony.
Raducanu, 19, received a video message of congratulations from Chinese tennis player Li Na, who she cited as one of her role models.
“Thank you so much Li Na. You have been a great inspiration to me all my career,” said Raducanu, who became the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam at the US Open in September.
“It’s been a great year for me. Thank you to all the Laureus Academy members for voting for me. I really want to congratulate all the other nominees too.”
Brown became Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medallist when she won bronze last summer in Tokyo, aged 13, just months after fracturing her skull in training.
“This is insane,” Brown said. “I had some ups and downs, falling, having a pretty bad accident and getting back up. I feel like the falling just pushed me [to succeed].”
Shriever, 22, won gold at the World Championships and Olympics in 2021 despite having to crowdfund £50,000 after UK Sport cut her funding.
“Honestly, I just thought that being nominated was special enough but to win it, wow, what an absolute honour,” she said.
” I’m so, so proud. To be awarded something so prestigious means so much to me.”
Raducanu, Brown and Shriever ‘an inspiration’
Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen and triple Olympic gold-winning Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah won the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards.
The Italian men’s national football team, who beat England in the final of Euro 2020, were named Team of the Year, while legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
British former Olympic champion heptathlete Jess Ennis-Hill, now a member of the Laureus judging panel, said: “The successes of Emma Raducanu, Sky Brown and Bethany Shriever last year are truly an inspiration to British women of all ages and they send a particularly important message to young girls in this country – and all over the world – that there need not be the kind of obstacle to a successful career in sport that might once have stood in their way.”