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1999 Year in Review

Top Sports Personalities

Lance Armstrong was victorious in the Tour de France, while Serena Williams won four tournaments and blasted her way to a U.S. Open title.

by Gerry Brown, John Gettings, & Mike Morrison
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

Mario Lemieux If a former athlete can run for president, there's no reason one can't own a franchise. Super Mario rescued his former team from bankruptcy this year and became the first athlete to own the team he starred for. He became the first hometown owner of the Penguins in 20 years and he gave the fans another reason to celebrate his hard work and dedication.
Laffit Pincay Jr. Lyndon Johnson was president when this horse racing legend won his first race. On Dec. 10, the 52-year-old hall of fame jockey from Panama rode the 8,834th winner of his career (Irish Nip), passing Bill Shoemaker on the all-time victories list. This was horse racing's equivalent of Aaron passing Ruth in career home runs.
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

Dale Jarrett This 14-year racing veteran captured his first Winston Cup title with consistency. During the 34-race schedule, Jarrett finished in the top five 24 times and in the top ten 29 times. He won four races and he and his father Ned became just the second father-son pair to win Winston Cup titles.
David Robinson Rarely can a pro athlete as talented as David Robinson be truly happy when he's not "the man." But Robinson seemed just that in 1999 when his Spurs won their first NBA Championship. Robinson, a longtime All-Star center, had been the best player on his team for his entire life. That suddenly changed with the arrival and quick maturation of Tim Duncan. Duncan, now widely recognized as the league's greatest player, couldn't help but play well. It was Robinson that swallowed his ego, took a different role and allowed Duncan and the Spurs to shine and finally claim a title.
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

Ricky Williams He had by most accounts a big year. He won the Heisman Trophy last December after setting the NCAA career records in rushing yards and touchdowns. Then he was paid the ultimate compliment when New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his entire draft so he could get him. Then he signed the best (or worst) contract in sports when he figured he should get paid according to his performance. He didn't complain either when his rookie season in the NFL didn't become as profitable as it might of when the Saints and he himself struggled.
Pedro Martinez He's been the best in the business for a little while now but he reminded us how good he was this year. Pedro Martinez, almost single handedly led the Boston Red Sox into the postseason and ran away with pitching's Triple Crown. In this era of ludicrous offensive numbers, Martinez won 23 games, struck out 313 and put up an ERA of 2.07, more than a full run better than the next closest guy. He took home the All-Star Game MVP award, locked up the Cy Young early and made a run at the league MVP, finishing a close second.
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

Serena Williams The little sister came up big this year. Serena Williams long stood in the shadow of big sister Venus, that is, until 1999 when the younger Williams won four tournaments and blasted her way to a U.S. Open title, becoming the first African-American woman to win a Grand Slam title in more than 30 years. It was only a matter of time until a Williams sister won a Grand Slam title but most people has presumed Venus would be the first to do it. Serena beat defending U.S. Open champion Lindsay Davenport in the semis and avenged her big sister's semifinal loss to Martina Hingis in the final.
Andre Agassi It wasn't long ago that Agassi was a has-been. The former world number one had dropped to world number 141 and his tennis prospects were at their dimmest. Agassi reevaluated, split from celebrity wife Brooke Shields, and refocused with a vengeance in 1999. His comeback win over Andrei Medvedev from two-sets down in the French Open final completed his return to the tennis elite and gave him the career Grand Slam. Agassi won the U.S. Open three months later and finished the year as the world's top-ranked player. The has-been is back to being an "is-being".
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

Tiger Woods Just when people started to forget how much better he is than anyone else, Woods reminded us all in 1999. Though the start of the year belonged to his rival David Duval, Woods showed us all who's boss at the made-for-TV "Showdown at Sherwood" beating Duval 2&1 at the Aug. 2 prime-time match play event. Woods then grabbed the Tour by the throat in the second half and finished the year with eight wins, including his second major (at the PGA Championship), and an incredible $6.6 million in earnings. Oh yeah, he won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average and the PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
Lance Armstrong He was supposed to be dead in 1999, not riding his bike. Not only was Armstrong alive and riding, the testicular cancer survivor was winning the world's most prestigious cycling event, the Tour de France. The Tour, which a year ago was tainted with charges of widespread drug use, had a great story in 1999 to help restore some of its stature. Armstrong, after a comeback from cancer that his doctor called "miraculous," needed no comeback in the Tour, winning the prologue to the race and never looking back becoming only the second American winner in the race's 93-year history.
Lemieux | Pincay | Jarrett | Robinson | Ricky Williams | Martinez | Serena Williams | Agassi | Woods | Armstrong | Top

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Did you know?  Thomas Jennings is the first known African American to hold a patent.

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