DAPHNE, Ala. – The United States Sports Academy has announced that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tennis great Serena Williams have been voted the male and female Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Brady completed a Super Bowl record 37 passes, including four touchdowns, to lead the New England Patriots in 2015 to their fourth Super Bowl victory, earning his third Super Bowl MVP award in the win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49. Brady is the first NFL starting quarterback to appear in six Super Bowls and is now tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most Super Bowl victories as a quarterback. He has led his Patriots to another playoff berth as the 2015 season draws to a close.

Serena Williams maintained her number one global ranking in women’s tennis by winning three major titles in 2015 – the French Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open – bringing her Grand Slam titles to 21. This includes winning four straight majors going back to the 2014 U.S. Open, thus completing the “Serena Slam” – winning four straight majors – for the second time. Her career Grand Slam singles titles are just one short of Steffi Graf’s Open-era record. Williams was named Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.

This is the 31st year of the Academy’s Athlete of the Year program, which is part of the institution’s annual Awards of Sport program. The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the Academy’s yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes accomplishments of men and women in sports from around the globe. Each month, the public is invited to participate by nominating and voting for athletes on the Academy’s website. Monthly winners become eligible for the prestigious Athlete of the Year honor, which is selected by an online public balloting during the first three weeks of December. Monthly and annual winners are announced on the Academy’s website, social media, and in the monthly e-newsletter, The Sport Update.

This year’s ballot included 12 men and 12 women from nine countries representing a wide variety of athletic accomplishment. Their performances provided some of the top highlights and newsworthy stories in sport in 2015. The web based ballot garnered votes from around the world during the three week voting period.

Finishing second in the male balloting was Jordan Spieth of the USA, who won the 2015 Masters in record fashion, carding an 18-under-par 270 to match the major’s mark for 72 holes, set by Tiger Woods in 1997. He followed up with an impressive win at the U.S. Open, becoming the youngest golfer in history to win two majors, eclipsing the record of Bobby Jones. His win at the 2015 Tour Championship clinched the 2015 FedEx Cup and a number one ranking in his sport.

Third place among the males was Stephen Curry, reigning MVP and two-time NBA all-star guard for the Golden State Warriors. He averaged 26 points, 6.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game to lead the Warriors to the NBA World Championship. It was the team’s first championship in 40 years, and they continued the momentum with a 24-game winning streak to start this season, best in NBA history.

Second place honors in the female Athlete of the Year went to Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba, who broke a 22-year-old world record in the women’s 1,500 meters when she clocked 3:50:07 during a meet in Monaco. She also won the women’s 5,000 meter race at the Diamond League meet in Paris, France, and won the World Championship in the 1,500 meters in Beijing, China.

Third among the females was Romanian tennis player Simona Halep. Ending 2015 as the Women’s Tennis Association second ranked female player in the world, she won three WTA singles titles in 2015, bringing her career total to 11. Halep in 2015 beat Jelena Jankovic in the final of the BNP Paribas Open, giving her the biggest title of her career.

The United States Sports Academy’s 2014 male and female Athletes of the Year were Novak Djokovic, professional tennis player from Serbia, and Maria Sharapova, professional tennis player from Russia.

Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.