The inspirational story of the most decorated gymnast of all time won hearts and minds at global sport’s most prestigious honours, where Novak Djokovic is named Sportsman of the Year for record-equalling fifth time

London, April 22, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- *MADRID**, **April* *22**, 202**4* – *Simone Biles*’ two-year journey from a personal crisis that derailed her participation at the 2021 Olympics to four gold medals at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships was capped tonight by the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award. At the Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid, Biles’ inspirational story was a winner at an event attended by superstars from the worlds of sport, entertainment, fashion and business. *Novak Djokovic* and *Aitana **Bonmatí* – the world’s No.1 female soccer star – were among the big winners in the Spanish capital. 

This was the 25th staging of an event that has risen to the top of the sporting calendar – attended by some of the best athletes on the planet together with past sporting giants including NFL legend Tom Brady, plus influential figures from the world of fashion, film and entertainment. Hosted by Hollywood star *Andy Garcia*, the Awards were broadcast live to millions around the world and the sporting world was set alight on social channels by unique sporting interactions only seen at the Laureus Awards. 

It was the athletes who took centre stage tonight: from the representatives of the Laureus World Sports Academy – the 69 sporting greats whose votes decide these Awards – present in Madrid, to the heroes of today, for whom the Laureus is a coveted global prize known as the “athletes’ Award”.  

After a tearful exit from the Tokyo Olympics, Biles entered a near two-year break from the sport she had dominated. From the start, she platformed the mental health issues that had affected her and was an influencer in a developing and ongoing conversation about mental health in elite sport. Her triumphant comeback, at the world championships in Antwerp, Belgium, was as inspirational as anything Biles has achieved. She is a three-time winner of Sportswoman of the Year (2017, 2019, 2020) and adds another statuette to her collection with the 2024 Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.  

Laureus World Comeback of the Year, Simone Biles, said "Winning the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award means everything to me. Every time I'm nominated for a Laureus Award in general, it's unbelievable, and I feel super honoured and excited to be among some of those greats that have either been in running for the Award, or have prior won the Award, but to have all that hard work and dedication be recognised, and be paid off is just truly unbelievable and exciting." 

Djokovic – who won the 2023 US Open and was only denied a Calendar Slam of all four tennis majors in a five-set Wimbledon defeat by Carlos Alcaraz – is now on a record-equalling 24 Grand Slams and was in Madrid to tie another all-time record, with his fifth Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award (he won in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2019). Like the winner of this Award in 2023, Lionel Messi, Djokovic has displayed not just sporting greatness, but a longevity at the very top of his sport that sets new standards for those who follow him. 

Djokovic – who was presented with his Award by Tom Brady, winner of a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022 – shared the stage with another of the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis in the 21st century. Laureus Sport for Good, which supports over 300 programmes all over the world using the power of sport to change the lives of young people in need, is at the heart of these Awards and the Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to Fundación Rafa Nadal, which uses sport and education to inspire over 1,000 young people in economically challenged communities in Spain and India. *Rafa**el** Nadal*, the patron of the programme and himself a four-time winner in three different categories – Sportsman of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year and Comeback of the Year – was in Madrid to accept a different kind of honour on behalf of the foundation he has developed since its inception in 2010 to leave a legacy that goes far beyond the trophies he has lifted on the tennis court – including four US Open titles.  

Nadal was one of several ‘home’ favourites to win a Laureus. Bonmatí took to the stage twice – and made history both times: firstly, to pick up the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award, becoming the first soccer player to do so; and again to represent the Spain team which won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand – in the same city where that side returned to celebrate last summer. The world champions are now the Laureus World Team of the Year and the first all-female team to win the Award.  

*Jude Bellingham*, too, was on familiar territory. The English midfielder won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award – the first soccer player to do so – after an electrifying start to his time with Real Madrid. On the world’s most popular soccer team, the 20-year-old has quickly become the fans’ favourite.   

*Arisa **Trew*, the 13-year-old Australian skateboarding star, made history in 2023 when she became the first female skater to land a 720 (two full rotations) in vert skateboarding. It was appropriate that she did so at the Tony Hawk Vert Alert in Utah. The event’s host, Hawk, a Member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, was the first skateboarder to land the trick, back in 1985. The historic feat made her the first female skateboarder to win the Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.    

*Diede de Groot* won the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. In 2023 the Dutchwoman extended her run without defeat in wheelchair tennis to 127 matches, claiming a third successive calendar Grand Slam – a feat unmatched in the history of tennis.  

Only at Laureus are legends past and present brought together to celebrate the joy of sport and its  
ability to make meaningful change in society. And only at Laureus do the winners receive one of the  
most beautiful trophies in sport – as recognised by the all-time legends of the Laureus World Sports Academy.  

*The full list of Winners is:* 
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: *Novak Djokovic* 
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: *Aitana **Bonatti* 
Laureus World Team of the Year Award:* Spain Women’s **Football** Team* 
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: *Jude Bellingham* 
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: *Simone Biles* 
Laureus Sport for Good Award: *Fundación **Rafa** Nadal* 
Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: *Diede de Groot* 
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award: *Arisa Trew* 

For further information, please contact: 
*Laureus Public Relations Team* 
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· Simone Biles - 2024 Laureus World Comeback of the Year

CONTACT: Flora Havelock
Laureus World Sports Awards

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