Federer wins record fourth Laureus award

Roger Federer with his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec at the Laureus awards Keystone

Switzerland's world number one tennis player Roger Federer has become the first person to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award four times.

This content was published on February 19, 2008 - 08:04

The Swiss champion won his fifth straight Wimbledon title last season to equal Björn Borg's record in addition to three of the year's four grand slam tournaments.

Federer was handed his fourth consecutive trophy during a gala evening on Monday at St Petersburg's Marinski theatre. Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the many guests to applaud the Swiss.

"I am thankful the jury didn't think three [trophies] was enough," Federer said. "I'm very proud to receive this prize."

The former German football star, coach and jury member Franz Beckenbauer praised the Swiss tennisman, saying he was a deserving winner.

"He is an incredible sportsman and an exceptionally nice person," he added.

Tennis triumphed at the Laureus awards, with the women's prize going to Justine Henin.

The Belgian became the first tennis player to win ten titles in a season since Switzerland's Martina Hingis ten years ago, ending 2007 as the undisputed world number one.

"Last season was my best yet: no injuries, great performances and lots of fun," she said. "My next goal is the Beijing Olympics."

Federer, who also sees the Olympic title as one of his season's goals, was also enthusiastic about Henin's award. "It's a great evening for tennis," he said.

Bright (and long) future

Looking ahead to the rest of his career, the 26-year-old warned his rivals he might hang around until he turns 35. He has already set his sights on beating American Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles.

"I really am thinking about it. I would have liked to break the record this year, but as I didn't win the Australian Open, it will be difficult to overtake Sampras this season," he added.

For the time being, he is focusing on the French Open, the only grand slam to have escaped his clutches.

"I will do everything I can to win and [if I do] I don't think it will have anything to do with luck," he said. "I play well enough on clay and two times I have been just two sets away from a win."

And also...

Others to be rewarded for their performances in 2007 were British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton for the World Breakthrough of the Year award and British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe for the World Comeback of the Year award.

Hamilton finished second in the F1 drivers' standings in his rookie season.

"I don't think I deserved it as much as some of the other nominees and I hope I can keep my country proud and do well in the future," Swiss resident Hamilton said. "I'm approaching the season with the same determination and I want to push harder."

Radcliffe won the New York Marathon after two years away from competition after starting a family.

South Africa's rugby team won the World Team of the Year award after going unbeaten to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

"This award goes to all the players who can't be here tonight," South Africa fullback Percy Montgomery said. "It's also a tribute to all those who have played for South Africa."

swissinfo with agencies

Laureus 2007 winners

Sportsman of the Year: Roger Federer, Switzerland, tennis

Sportswoman of the Year: Justine Henin, Belgium, tennis

Team of the Year: South Africa, rugby union

Comeback of the Year: Paula Radcliffe, Britain, athletics

Breakthrough of the Year: Lewis Hamilton, Britain, auto racing

Action Sportsperson of the Year: Shaun White, United States, skateboarding

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Esther Vergeer, Netherlands, wheelchair tennis

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