However, the same day had the American Pharoah racehorse defeating the tennis icon in SI's reader poll. That set off a nasty mess online with people furious that Williams was competing against a racehorse in the first place. After all, what part of Sportsperson of the the Year includes a horse?
Making the matter worse was the Los Angeles Times, which tweeted a split shot of Williams and American Pharoah, asking: "Serena Williams or American Pharoah: Who is the real sportsperson of the year?"
Furious over the insensitive comparison of Williams and the racehorse, the LA Times' Twitter account was bombarded with backlash.
One follower tweeted, "YOU ARE SERIOUSLY COMPARING A BLACK WOMAN TO A HORSE." Another wrote: "really @latimes? we’re comparing women and horses now?"
With the backlash piling up, the Times changed its tweet headline to: "Are fans right to be upset that Serena Williams beat American Pharoah for SI Sportsperson of the Year?"
They also changed the split-shot tweet to only include a picture of Williams.
"We’ve changed the headline and photo on this story to treat it with greater sensitivity," the L.A. Times' Twitter account clarified. "Thank you for your feedback."
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(Photo: Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated; December 21, 2015)