Serena Williams (left) and Drew Brees

Quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and tennis player Serena Williams were named the United States Sports Academy’s Athletes of the Month for January.

Brees quarterbacked the Saints to their first Super Bowl (a game they won on 7 February over the Indianapolis Colts) with two victories in the National Football Conference (NFC) playoffs. He threw for a combined 444 yards and six touchdowns along with no interceptions in postseason victories over the Arizona Cardinals (45-14) and the Minnesota Vikings (31-28 in overtime) in the NFC Championship Game.

Williams won her 12th career Grand Slam at the Australian Open with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Belgium’s Justine Henin. It was Williams’ fifth Australian Open championship and she became the first American woman to repeat in Melbourne since Jennifer Capriati in 2001-02.

Finishing second in the male category was University of Alabama and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 116 yards and two scores in leading the Crimson Tide to their first national championship since 1992 with a victory over Texas in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national title game.

Taking second on the women’s ballot was American skier Lindsey Vonn, who won three downhills and three Super-G races in January and had three other podium finishes. The leader in the World Cup standings heads next to the Winter Olympics, which begin later this week.

Finishing third on the men’s side was Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, who won his 16th Grand Slam with a straight-sets win over Great Britain’s Andy Murray. Connecticut basketball star Maya Moore, who scored 20 points in back-to-back victories teams ranked seventh or higher in a three-day span, was third on the women’s side.

Athletes of the Month winners are eligible to be included in the Academy’s Athlete of the Year ballot at the end of the year.

The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nominating and balloting processes. Visit the Academy website and fill out the nomination form, and return to the website the first week of each month to vote on the Athlete of the Month. Winners will be announced on our website and in the online edition of the Academy Update.