Time magazine released its list of the 100 most influential people of 2021 on Wednesday, and several athletes were chosen.
Gymnasts Simone Biles and Suni Lee, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, tennis player Naomi Osaka and track athlete Allyson Felix were all included.
Time tweeted a photo of a cover featuring Biles, along with praise from tennis legend Serena Williams:
"<a href="https://twitter.com/Simone_Biles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Simone_Biles</a> is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself ... from your soul," writes <a href="https://twitter.com/serenawilliams?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@serenawilliams</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TIME100?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TIME100</a> <a href="https://t.co/Jz5Mlq6Mh9">https://t.co/Jz5Mlq6Mh9</a> <a href="https://t.co/CprSwghK2R">pic.twitter.com/CprSwghK2R</a>
Regarding Biles, Williams also wrote:
"Simone strikes the powerful balance between humility and confidence—she's enthusiastic yet stoic, believing in her strength, trusting her body and embracing her greatness. With a total of 32 Olympic and world championship medals. ... What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of Black women. I wish I had her to look up to when I was younger and trying to realize my dreams."
Biles is a seven-time Olympic medalist, including four golds, but she primarily made headlines this summer for prioritizing her mental health by pulling out of several events at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
She won a silver medal in the team event as part of Team USA and returned to compete in the balance beam, winning bronze.
With Biles out of the individual all-around, United States teammate Suni Lee took gold, making her the fifth different American female gymnast to win the event in the past five Olympics.
While Lee is just 18 years old, Brady remains at the top of his game at 44 and is coming off his seventh championship.
Brady took a gamble last season by leaving the New England Patriots after 20 years and signing with Tampa Bay, but the move paid off, as he and the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.
In an excerpt for Time, English soccer legend David Beckham wrote the following about Brady:
"When I think about the peak of athletic excellence, it's hard not to think about Tom Brady. To watch him play is nothing short of inspiring. We can all read the stats and records that he's broken. Tom is and always will be one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play American football. He is a true competitor; his unmatched dedication to the sport, his leadership on the field, his strength both mentally and physically, and his courage are what make Tom Brady a champion and a personal hero of mine."
While Brady has established himself as the GOAT, Ohtani is among the most rare and talented athletes ever.
The 27-year-old native of Japan is perhaps the front-runner for American League MVP honors because of his excellence as a hitter and pitcher. Ohtani is hitting .257 with 44 home runs, 94 RBI, 91 runs scored and 23 stolen bases, while also posting a 9-2 record with a 3.36 ERA and 136 strikeouts across 115.1 innings as a pitcher.
Osaka, 23, is already a four-time Grand Slam champion in tennis, including a win in the Australian Open earlier this year.
While her athletic accomplishments have been special, she has arguably accomplished even more off the court in 2021 by bringing the discussion about the mental health of athletes to the forefront, much like Biles.
Osaka took a break from tennis after the French Open to focus on her mental health before returning for the 2021 Summer Olympics in her birth country of Japan.
The 35-year-old Felix became the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history this year at the Tokyo Games by winning gold in the 4x400-meter relay and bronze in the 400-meter event.
Felix has a remarkable 11 Olympic medals, including seven golds, and her most recent ones came after giving birth to her daughter in 2018.
Time's list of the 100 most influential people of 2021 will be highlighted in a televised special entitled TIME100, which will air on Sept. 20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.