Switzerland's Roger Federer has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for the third time in a row.
Federer, who won three of the four grand slam titles last year, was presented with the award in honour of his continuing domination of men's tennis.
It is the first time anyone has won the award three times.
The winners were announced at the eighth annual Laureus World Sports Academy award ceremony at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on Monday evening. The many distinguished guests included King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Federer beat off stiff competition from home favourite Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, captain of the victorious Italian World Cup football team Fabio Cannavaro, the co-holder of the 100m athletics world record Asafa Powell, and Federer's good friend golfer Tiger Woods.
Despite losing in his most recent two tournaments – both times to the Argentine Guillermo Canas – Federer can look back and consider 2006 a job well done.
Last year Federer won three of the four grand slam singles tournaments and ended the year ranked number one, with his ranking points several thousand points greater than his nearest rival.
Federer started the year by winning the 2006 Australian Open. Had Federer then won the 2006 French Open, he would have completed a Grand Slam and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam singles titles at the same time, although he would not have done so in the same calendar year.
However, clay court specialist and defending champion Rafael Nadal got the better of Federer in four sets.
Federer entered Wimbledon in June as the top seed and reached the final without dropping a set. There he beat Nadal in four sets to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
In the year's last Grand Slam tournament, the US Open, he defeated American Andy Roddick in four sets for his third consecutive title at the Flushing Meadows.
At the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup at Shanghai, Federer defeated American James Blake in straight sets in the final to win his third Masters Cup title.
In 2006 Federer lost to only two players: Nadal in the French Open final, Rome final, Monte Carlo final, and Dubai final; and Andy Murray in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters. The loss to Murray was Federer's only straight-sets loss of the year. The Cincinnati tournament was the only tournament of the year in which he did not reach the final.
Among the other Laureus award-winners on Monday was Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, who at 24 is seen by many as the best female pole-vaulter in history. Isinbayeva was named sportswoman of the year.
The Italian football team received the team prize for winning the World Cup in Germany.
French tennis player Amélie Mauresmo was named newcomer of the year despite turning professional in 1994. In 2006 she won the Australian Open and 2006 Wimbledon, her first grand slam titles.
Women's tennis also provided the comeback of the year. Serena Williams was plagued by ankle and knee injuries for much of 2005 but fought back to win the 2007 Australian Open.
Williams follows Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis, who won the Comeback of the Year in 2006.
German former football manager and player, Franz "The Kaiser" Beckenbauer was given a Lifetime Award for services to the beautiful game. Beckenbauer was also president of Germany's World Cup Organising Committee.
swissinfo with agencies
Federer has won around 70 awards, including the Swiss Sportsman of the Year in 2004, 2006 and 2007 – in 2005 the Swiss public preferred Thomas Lüthi, a motorcyclist.
While Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles is still a work in progress (Federer has a mere 10), Federer already has a litany of other records under his belt including the highest number of ranking points at the end of the year – 8,370 in 2006 – and the most prize money in one season, $8,343,885 (SFr10,135,000), also in 2006.
Earlier this year Federer beat the record for the longest unbroken reign as world number one, overtaking Jimmy Connors' 30-year-old milestone of 160 weeks. Federer has been in pole position since February 2, 2004.
Laureus 2007 winners:
Men: Roger Federer
Women: Yelena Isinbayeva (athletics)
Team: football world champions Italy
Spirit of Sport award: FC Barcelona (football)
Newcomer: Amélie Mauresmo (tennis)
Comeback: Serena Williams (tennis)
Disability award: Martin Braxenthaler (skiing/monoski)
Alternative sportsperson: Kelly Slater (surfing)
Sport for Good: Luke Dowdney – "Fight for peace" projects in Rio de Janeiro
Lifetime Award: Franz Beckenbauer (football)
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