Campeones para todos – Champions for everyone

Laureus World Sports Awards Madrid 2024
On a magical night in Madrid, the 2024 Laureus World Sports Awards brought together heroes from every sport and across generations – and showed that sport has the power to change the world through inspiration, advocacy and activism. 
In a beautiful white palace, perfectly lit by a descending Iberian sun, the kings and queens of sport came to celebrate and to be honoured. The 25th edition of the Laureus World Sports Awards was the stuff of fairytales: the stories told included those of new heroes emerging; of triumph over adversity; of teams whose collective spirit lifted the hopes of a nation; and always, and above all, of the special power of sport: a power that can change the world.   

The first Awards to be held in Madrid saw four Laureus Statuettes in the hands of heroes of Spanish sport. Twenty-four hours after his goal won El Clásico for Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. Aitana Bonmatí had won almost every prize her sport has to offer, and now she is the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year. And as part of the Laureus World Team of the Year – Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup winners – she repeated the ‘double’ won by Lionel Messi last year. 
Novak Djokovic received the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award for a fifth time, equaling a record held by Roger Federer – the Serb’s race to 24 Grand Slam titles has taught us that Djokovic usually doesn’t want to stop once he catches up with his old rival.

For her return to glory at gymnastics’ World Championships after a near two-year absence, Simone Biles won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award; Diede de Groot is the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability after a perfect year in wheelchair tennis. 

Rafael Nadal has previously won the Awards lifted here by Djokovic, Bellingham and Biles. This time he represented Fundación Rafa Nadal, as his foundation won the Laureus Sport for Good Award. This was an evening when our greatest athletes shared the stage with the programmes Laureus supports all over the world.
The magnificent Palacio de Cibeles has stood in the heart of Madrid since 1919, when they called it El Catedral de las Comunicaciones, the cathedral of communication. From this beautiful building, telegrams travelled from the Spanish capital to destinations all around the world. And now, once more, the stories sent out from this place found their way to every corner of the globe. 

Today, the Palacio de Cibeles is home to Madrid City Council – the event’s Host Partner, along with the Regional Government of Madrid. In place of telegrams and telephone exchanges were global television and social media posts that trended on every platform, as athletes from across the world of sport interacted with each other in a way that happens #OnlyAtLaureus.
It started with Tom Brady, a special guest of Laureus and a recipient of the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022. The NFL legend warmed up for the Awards in style – Brady found himself celebrating with the stars of Real Madrid inside the home locker room after El Clásico, a video that traveled round the world faster than one of No.12’s touchdown passes – and was here to present the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year to his friend, Novak Djokovic, who had been by his side at the Bernabeu 24 hours earlier. 

Djokovic even found time to interview Bellingham when he entered a media room as the footballer was leaving. “Your country plays mine in the first game of the Euros!” said Djokovic, as he greeted the England midfielder. 

Then it was to the red carpet and the Fan Zone, where young people from sports clubs across Madrid got a glimpse, and then an autograph, and then a selfie, from their sporting heroes. While interactions between athletes has become a trademark of the Awards, the connection between these young fans and superstars such as Bellingham, Alcaraz and Bonmatí created memories that will last forever. 

First onto the stage was Andy Garcia, the Oscar-nominated star of movies including The Godfather Part Three, The Untouchables and Ocean’s Eleven. Our host introduced “the athletes’ awards” with a glance around the room and a reminder that “we are in the presence of greatness”. 

That certainly applies to Lindsey Vonn and Usain Bolt – two speedsters on the slopes and the track – who presented the first Award, for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year. 

Bonmatí’s acceptance of the Award was preceded by a film that illustrated not just her phenomenal talent, but the extent to which it has been recognised across the world of football, without qualification. Lucy Bronze, Bonmatí’s teammate at Barcelona and her opponent in the World Cup final, gave one testimonial, and so did two greats of Spanish football: Juan Mata, who won the World Cup and the European Championship with La Roja, and Pep Guardiola, manager of the treble-winning Manchester City team.

Bonmatí received the Laureus from Bolt and said: “I want to thank my teammates who have won everything with my club and the national team. It is because of them that I am here today.” 
Throughout the evening, Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy – the 69 sporting legends whose votes decide these Awards – not only handed out the honours but took the microphone to share hosting duties. First up was Michael Johnson, the former world record holder over 200 and 400 metres, who introduced an #OnlyAtLaureus table of some of the fastest people in sports: skiers Vonn and Alberto Tomba; Bolt, and Marc Márquez, Spain’s MotoGP superstar.

Now that his career is over, Patrice Evra has replaced his dashing incursions down the left flank for Manchester United with a unique sense of style. The Champions League winner took to the stage to present the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award in a burgundy tuxedo and matching trainers.

The combination of the formal and informal set the stage perfectly for 13-year-old Arisa Trew – who swapped her skating gear for a pink dress as she picked up the Laureus Statuette – the first female skateboarder to win the Award.

Trew made more history in 2023 by becoming the first female skater to pull off a 720 in competition, a trick first performed by skateboarding legend and Laureus Academy Member Tony Hawk, nearly 40 years ago. A film showed her develop the trick with Hawk himself: “This is what determination looks like,” said Hawk, as he watched Trew fall and fall before finally landing the groundbreaking move. 

“Tony was my idol and I was happy to land the trick in front of him,” said Trew, who had earlier performed skateboarding tricks on the red carpet. 
Sport for Good Award
The next Award was presented by Sean Fitzpatrick, the chair of the Laureus World Sport Academy and a Rugby World Cup winner with the All Blacks. Before zeroing in on the programme recognised this year, he demonstrated the power of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation by numbers: “Over 300 programmes in nearly 50 countries that have impacted the lives of seven million children – and the Foundation has raised a quarter of a billion Euros to support those programmes worldwide.”

After a film showcasing all of the programmes shortlisted for the Laureus Sport for Good Award, two of Real Madrid’s all-time greatest goalscorers, Raúl and Emiliano Butragueňo, named Fundación Rafa Nadal as this year’s recipient. 

As a lifelong Madridista, Nadal may have been a little starstruck in that company, but fortunately he had back-up: taking the stage with him were his mother and co-founder of the foundation, Ana María Parera and the director of the programme, María Francisca Parelló, who is married to Nadal. 
Fundación Rafa Nadal uses the three pillars of sport, education and psychosocial support across a range of programmes to empower children and young people in India and Spain. 

“As Nelson Mandela said, sport has the power to change the world,” said Parelló. “We believe in these words, so we have been working since 2010 with this idea. It’s not only physical activity, it’s about education, integration and social change. This trophy pushes us to keep working and keep believing that sport has the power to change the world.”

In the Fan Zone, Nadal himself talked about how he felt to add another Laureus to his collection. “We are super proud of the project,” he said. “It’s a way to give back. People like me, we are lucky to be able to work on our hobby. It’s time to give a message back to society that we need to help people who need help and we believe that kids are the future.”
Jude Bellingham took to the stage to accept his Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award less than 24 hours after his match-winning exploits in Sunday night’s Clásico. But it was in recognition of his achievements in 2023 that he picked up the Laureus Statuette from his friend – and last year’s winner of the same Award – Carlos Alcaraz.

Bellingham’s duck-to-water immersion in Spanish football saw him score 10 goals in his first 10 starts and soften the hearts of even the hardest-to-please Madridista. Those fans have fallen head-over-heels for Bellingham – and the 20-year-old’s bromance with two-time Grand Slam winner Alcaraz is also very real. The young Spaniard performed the iconic Bellingham celebration – arms stretched wide apart – after winning in the quarter-final of the US Open last year and the pair are now in regular contact.

The warmth between them was clear when Alcaraz momentarily forgot to hand over the Laureus. “He's kept it for another year!” quipped Bellingham.
Academy Member Bryan Habana then introduced the duo of fellow Academy Member Ruud Gullit and Garbiňe Muguruza, the latest Laureus Ambassador, having announced her retirement from tennis at the Awards venue earlier this weekend. They introduced the Nominees for Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability before making way for the winner: Diede de Groot, who in 2023 stretched her streak to 12 consecutive Grand Slams, completing three Calendar Slams in a row. 

Her speech was as inspiring as anything she did on court last year. “Ever since I was a little girl, tennis put the biggest smile on my face,” she said. “When I was a teenager, it gave me a different path to follow. Then suddenly, tennis was my job.

“Only recently, wheelchair tennis gave me a different insight – that it was a very special journey. It gave me the chance to improve myself every day and to inspire so many people all around the world.

“With the biggest smile on my face, I can do anything – and so can all the little Diedes all over the world.”
You should turn every setback into a comeback. Laureus Academy Member Li Xiaopeng evoked the words of the late, great basketball star Kobe Bryant to introduce the Laureus World Comeback of the Year category. 

Li knows precisely the kind of adversity gymnasts can face, so it was fitting that he should present the Award to Simone Biles, the most successful gymnast of all time. 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 made her the deserved recipient of this year’s Laureus. 

In an emotional video message from her training base in Houston, Biles said: “It’s been my dream since I was a little girl to receive awards like this, so thank you for making my dreams come true. I also want to say congratulations to all the other Nominees. I’m back in Houston training but am sending all my love.”  

“We’re in Spain and women are kicking butt!” Laureus Academy Member and tennis legend Martina Navratilova simply couldn’t help herself as she introduced to the stage – in her own inimitable style – three members of the Spain Women’s Team to pick up the Laureus World Team of the Year Award. 
It was not just Navratilova who was inspired by Spain’s success at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The Spanish women’s journey to the final in Australia and New Zealand – where they beat England 1-0 – created a tsunami of interest in the women’s game across the generations. Aitana Bonmatí took to the stage for a second time in the company of teammates Salma Paralluelo and Ivana Andrés. “Since we were little, we had a dream and we fulfilled it with effort, work and humility,” said Andrés. 
Tom Brady
Finally, the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award was presented by Tom Brady, who said: “The previous winners of this Award are so iconic they only need one name: Woods, Federer, Messi, Bolt and Spain’s own Nadal,” before a film narrated by Navratilova, illustrating the incredible 2023 achievements by the name Brady left out of that list: Novak Djokovic.

It was Brady who highlighted exactly why these Awards are the ones most coveted by elite athletes. “The Members of the Academy who vote for these Awards have been there themselves,” he said. “They are champions in many different arenas and they know what greatness looks like. Novak, your peers recognise the work you put in to get here. This is our way of saying ‘congratulations and thank you’.”

“It seems surreal that I am receiving this from you,” replied Djokovic. “You’ve been my sporting hero and also a great friend and someone I look up to in life. 
Novak Djokovic
“Laureus is a very special organisation. I would like to thank especially Johann Rupert, the founder of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation who recognised the power of sport. Also, of course, Nelson Mandela, who inspired us all and sent the powerful message that sport has the power to change the world.

“We are seeing that every day, particularly with children who choose sport over streets and develop crucial life skills and values that take their lives in the right direction. 

“I’m honoured to be part of this organisation and part of this incredible evening. And also, in the midst of incredible division in the world today, to be part of something that unites people at the deepest level, and sport is exactly that. It shines the light for young people all around the world. Whatever culture you are coming from, or tradition, or the colour of your skin or the language that you speak – sport is the universal language and it unites us all.” 

It was a perfect end to the evening from one of the greatest athletes of all time. With those words, Djokovic brought together everything that the Laureus World Sports Awards celebrates and stands for. Like each of our winners, true sporting royalty. 

Email Sign up

Email Sign-up

Sign up for all things Laureus

Get regular updates throughout the year