LeBron James, Lindsey Vonn, Mario Balotelli and Li Na are all featured in this year’s list. Vonn, listed in the icon section, has recently made headlines more for dating Tiger Woods than for any of her own personal accomplishments, but the Olympic gold medalist remains one of the more predominant faces of women in sports — even as she recovers from a knee injury.
Derek Jeter wrote James’ section and attributed the All-Star’s work ethic and intensity to the success he has achieved so far in his career.
“Whether his team is up 20 or down 20, LeBron is playing like it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals,” Jeter writes.
Li, a Chinese tennis star, and Balotelli, an Italian soccer star, represent the international athletes on the list. Li took on the Chinese Tennis Association in 2008 and urged it to give players more independence, allowing them to keep more of their earnings. In 2011, Li became the first Asian-born player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament.
Balotelli has made waves in the soccer world, as the 22-year-old continues to prove he has what it takes to be one of the best.
“Mario has all the qualities to be a top player: power and athleticism, alongside a good understanding of the game — all positive,” said former Italy star Gianfranco Zola in the magazine.
The issue hits newsstands on Friday.