Spokesperson of the year, Serena Williams: "Still I Rise"

Serena Williams graciously accepted her Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award this week with a speech detailing her trails and tribulations - and dedication - to the sport she loves.

In the midst of it all she says, "Still I rise."

"I didn't have things handed to me", said Williams.

"I had to work hard. I've had struggles", she said citing health issues and being talked about by her detractors.  Williams poked fun at the latest rambling of whether she, or horse American Pharoah, should have won the Sportsperson of the Year award.

"I've lived through tragedies, controversies... horses... I had to say that", said Williams.

Through all the challenges Williams said she finds strength in the poem Still I Rise, by poet laureate Maya Angelou.

Quoting excerpts of the poem, Williams said, "You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies; you may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust I rise."

After thanking family, friends, and other members of her support team, Serena thanked SI for recognizing a woman as Sportsperson of the Year, and gave a shoutout to female athletes saying, "Yes, ladies, it can be done."

Williams also had encouraging words for anyone wanting to achieve their goals.

"I have to tell each and everyone of you that it doesn't matter how old you are, how young you are - your age - you can achieve anything you set your mind to."

Williams began her tennis journey in 1984 in her home town of Compton, CA and told the audience her goal was to win Wimbledon.  Now, with several Wimbledon wins and a host of other tennis successes (can you say 21 Grand Slam titles?) under her belt, the 34 year old, basking in her latest success had some encouraging words for up and coming athletes.

"And I always say, if I can do it, anyone can do it."

It had been thirty years since a woman had been named SI's sports person of the year.

Said Serena, "My hope is by winning this award I can inspire many, many, many more women - in less than thirty years, of course - to stand right here on this podium and accept another Sportsperson of the Year award."