ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - World tennis number one Roger Federer won the prestigious Laureus Sportsman of the Year award for a record fourth year in a row on Monday.
Fellow tennis number one Justine Henin was named the best Sportswoman for the first time, ahead of last year’s winner, Russia’s world and Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva.
Lewis Hamilton took the Breakthrough of the Year award for his remarkable debut season in Formula One with McLaren while a fellow Briton, long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe, was named the Comeback Athlete of the Year.
Rugby world champions South Africa won the Team of the Year award and Sergei Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vaulter, received the Lifetime Achievement award.
The winners were announced at a gala ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre.
Federer once again had a fantastic year in 2007, capturing three out of the four grand slam titles for the third successive season.
“I have to thank all the voters who didn’t think three (Laureus awards) would be enough,” said the Swiss, who beat a strong field including golfer Tiger Woods, Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen and FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka.
Federer said his first award was the most cherished.
“Every year it feels great but I have to say the first one was the most important for me,” he told a news conference.
“It was very important to say that Roger Federer has arrived.”
Asked if he would finally give someone else a chance to win the award next year, Federer said: “No, I would like to win it again next year to have five in a row. I have five (successive) Wimbledon titles so it would be great to have five Laureus.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez
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