Grand Slam king Rafael Nadal and China’s Peng Shuai have been named among the 100 most influential people of 2022 by Time magazine.
Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year but had long since established himself as an icon of the game.
Another serial winner, American football star Tom Brady, wrote a tribute to Rafa.
“From the moment he stepped onto the pitch as a young player, Rafael Nadal had unparalleled charisma,” Brady wrote.
“He has the mental and physical strength to do what all great athletes do: give their best in the biggest moments.
“He ramps up his emotional state to the point where he can focus insanely on the smallest thing to gain an advantage over his opponent and force himself to win.
“It has paid off. When he won the Australian Open in 2022, Rafa claimed his 21st Grand Slam singles title – the most of any male tennis player in history.
“I admire athletes who push their limits and I’m absolutely inspired every time Rafa steps onto the pitch.
“There’s a lesson to be learned by watching his determination, his strategy, whatever it takes for him not to take a moment for granted.
“He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes in all sports.”
Peng Shuai’s bravery in speaking out against her abuse at the hands of powerful men in China inspired others to take up the torch for women’s rights in the country.
Activist Lü Pin announced Peng’s earth-shattering revelation while warning that the former tennis star could still be in danger.
“With a lengthy post on Chinese social media site Weibo, tennis star Peng Shuai sparked a chain reaction of events that transformed global sport. In the post, published last November, she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex and having an extramarital relationship with her.
“Shortly thereafter, Peng disappeared from public view. Their reappearance in staged settings provided the final justification for the US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics and led to the Women’s Tennis Association canceling its events in China. Her name remains censored on the Chinese internet.
“Peng was undoubtedly aware of the dangers of speaking out from the start. In the now-deleted post, she described her actions as a moth to a flame, an egg to a stone, and self-destruction. Her report has catapulted an unprecedented defense of women’s rights against authoritarian power. Her subsequent denial of her original claims suggests she has yet to regain full autonomy — and may even face unspeakable cruelty.”