*Serena Williams may have been named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2015, but the publication is getting criticized by those who say the honor should’ve gone to a racehorse.
Vibe reports that critics felt the 2015 American Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup Classic-winning racehorse, American Pharaoh, was more deserving of the Sportsperson of the Year title over Williams, who won 53 of her 56 matches this year. So much so that many of them commented on SI”s negligence for honoring animals.
In addition, the commentary took a racist turn regarding the publication’s cover shoot, which showed Williams relaxing on the throne with a crown on her head. While some mentioned the “rap-like” nature of the shoot, other’s suggested that Williams got named Sportsperson of the Year just because she is African-American.
Referencing what it felt was perhaps the most shameless response, Vibe noted a the following poll posted by The Los Angeles Times:
Despite the negative feedback, Sports Illustrated Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum stood by the publication’s decision to make Williams it’s Sportsperson of the Year, despite American Pharaoh winning an online poll contest against the tennis great.
“She was the most deserving person for the award. She had an amazing year. The way she won her events; the fact that she’s done this for so many years at such a high level,” Fichtenbaum told USA Today. “She was a terrific candidate in a year of terrific candidates.”
Scroll below to see some of the comments made about Williams being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year:
Very disappointed to see Sport’s Illustrated editors ignored the fans vote, and chose Serena Williams over American Pharoah – Article coming
— Brian Zipse (@Zipseatthetrack) December 14, 2015
I love how you give it to someone who “almost” won a grand slam when you could’ve given it up to an athlete who actually did. @SInow
— Juanita Webb (@NitaMarie65) December 14, 2015