London track champ Usain Bolt took top honors at the Laureus sports awards Monday night, earning his third Sportsman of the Year award since 2009.
Bolt, who swept the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m for the second consecutive Summer Games, beat out Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins, two-time gold medalist Mo Farah, Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, and F1 racer Sebastian Vettel for the award.
“This last season was a tough year,” Bolt admitted after winning his award. He suffered setbacks, injuries, and surprising back-t0-back losses to Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake at their country’s national championships just before the Olympics, but Bolt rebounded to beat Blake to the line in London.
British heptathlete Jessica Ennis took home the Sportswoman of the Year after winning gold in front of her home crowd last summer as part of an incredible evening for Great Britain, when Farah earned the 10,000m victory and Greg Rutherford surprised everyone by winning the long jump.
“It’s so surreal to stand here,” Ennis said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
Ennis beat American gold medalists Allyson Felix, Missy Franklin, Lindsey Vonn, and Serena Williams, as well as Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took home three medals last summer.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.