01:44 - Source: CNN
Novak Djokovic: Sportsman of the year

Story highlights

Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year

Serbian has won three grand slam titles in a row including recent Australian Open

Kenya's distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot is named Sportswoman of the Year

European soccer champions Barcelona named Team of the Year

CNN —  

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year at a star-studded ceremony in London.

The Serbian tennis star clinched three grand slam titles in 2011 and won an astonishing 41 games in a row during the season, tasting defeat only six times.

He claimed the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns and has started 2012 in equally impressive fashion, retaining his Melbourne title in an epic final against Rafael Nadal last month.

Djokovic’s victory saw him become only the fifth man in the Open Era to win three grand slam titles in a row, and convinced the 47 sportsmen and women that make up the Laureus World Sports Academy to hand him the prestigious gong.

“What stands out most for me is meeting all these legends of the sport, to exchange experiences and life stories,” he told CNN World Sport’s Pedro Pinto.

“It’s an amazing experience I will never forget. Everybody is special and I respect them all for what they have done.”

Djokovic said his sights were now set on matching Australian Rod Laver, who completed two calendar-year grand slams in his illustrious career.

“It’s a hard task but it excites me, it gives me goose bumps,” he said. “I think that’s the right way to embrace the challenge that is in front of you.

“Nowadays it’s very physical, you have to be consistently successful in order to be one of the top tennis players but everything is possible in life.

“I believe I’m an all-round player, that I have a game that is good enough for all different surfaces. I have had a couple of great wins against Rafa (Nadal) on clay which has given me good confidence ahead of the French Open.”

Kenyan distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot took the Sportswoman of the Year crown after she claimed gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters finals at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu.

Barcelona won Team of the Year after claiming the Spanish league title and the European Champions League.

Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy won the Breakthrough of the Year category after the 22-year-old earned his maiden major title at the 2011 U.S. Open in June.

McIlroy’s compatriot Darren Clarke won Comeback of the Year after the 43-year-old secured the first major of his career at the British Open in July.

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius was named Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. The South African double amputee is known as “Blade Runner” due to his prosthetic legs.

Surfer Kelly Slater claimed his fourth Laureus award after taking the Action Sportsperson of the Year title, while former Manchester United and England footballer Bobby Charlton was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.