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Serena Williams accepted her award for Sports Illustrated's "Sportsperson of the Year" while wearing a lingerie-inspired dress complete with a strappy bustier top, sheer lace paneling, and a wraparound skirt with train. The all-black ensemble was a collaboration between the 34-year-old athlete and fashion designer Aaron Gray.
Williams gave an inspiring speech detailing her journey and couldn't resist making a joking reference to the recent controversy of the magazine's choice to give the award to her over a famous racehorse. "I've had my shares of ups and downs. I've had many struggles. I've had blood clots in both my lungs at the same time, and I've lived through tragedies and controversies and horses," she joked.
The 21-time Grand Slam title winner also pointed out how it had been over 30 years since Sports Illustrated had given the award to a woman — track star Mary Decker, in 1983. "So for all the ladies out there, ‘Yes we can do it!'" she exclaimed. "My hope by winning this award can inspire many, many, many more women — in less than 30 years, of course — to stand right here on this podium and accept another Sportsperson of the Year. Yes, ladies, it can be done."
Williams concluded her speech by reciting an excerpt from her favorite Maya Angelou poem, "Still I Rise."
Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images