Soccer-Bonmati and Djokovic win top Laureus awards


Laureus World Sports Awards - Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain - April 22, 2024 Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena arrive ahead of the awards ceremony REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain's World Cup winning midfielder Aitana Bonmati was named the Sportswoman of the Year, while Serbia's Novak Djokovic captured the top men's honour at the Laureus awards ceremony on Monday.

Bonmati, who has cemented her place at the top of women's football by winning FIFA's The Best, Ballon d'Or and World Cup MVP among other accomplishments, made her way on to the stage for a second time on Monday as the Spanish women's football team were named Team of the Year, the first female squad to win the award.

Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady handed Djokovic his fifth Laureus award after the top ranked tennis player enjoyed a remarkable 2023. The Serb equalled Margaret Court's all time record haul of 24 Grand Slam titles after winning U.S. Open last September.

Djokovic contested all four major finals in 2023, also winning the Australian and French Opens. He was the runner-up at Wimbledon.

England midfielder Jude Bellingham, who has taken LaLiga by storm in his first season with Real Madrid, was named the Breakthrough Player of the Year, the first footballer to win this award.

Gymnast Simone Biles won Comeback of the Year award after winning four gold medals at last year's world championships, her first international event since competing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Biles headed to the Tokyo Games eyeing a record haul of six gold medals but returned home with just a silver and a bronze after suffering a crisis of confidence that saw the American drop out of multiple events due to "the twisties", a type of mental block where gymnasts are disoriented.

Biles, who is the most decorated gymnast with 37 world and Olympic medals, then took a two-year break from the sport to protect her mental health before making her triumphant comeback last year.

The Laureus World Sports Awards nominees are selected by the global media, while the winners are determined by the 69 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy. The awards have been presented annually since 2000.

List of winners:

World Sportswoman of the Year: Aitana Bonmati

World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic

World Team of the Year: Spain Women's Football Team

World Breakthrough of the Year: Jude Bellingham

World Comeback of the Year: Simone Biles

World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Diede de Groot

World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Arisa Trew

Laureus Sport for Good: Rafa Nadal Foundation

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas)

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