TIME’s 100 Most Influential People 2014: Five Athletes Make List

TIME Magazine has released its collection of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2014, and there are a handful of athletes on the list.

TIME categorized all the individuals into five groupings: Titans, Pioneers, Artists, Leaders and Icons. This year’s influential athletes can be found in the Titan, Pioneer and Icon categories.

Rather than take the most popular athletes in the world, TIME instead sought out individuals who have made waves deeper than their respective sport. For instance Jason Collins isn’t even an NBA starter, but being the first openly gay athlete in the four major American sports has blown open a door that previously seemed bolted shut.

Athletes joining Collins on this year’s TIME 100 list are Serena Williams (Titan), Lydia Ko (Pioneer), Richard Sherman (Pioneer), and Cristiano Ronaldo (Icon). For each athlete, TIME enlisted the services of a peer to provide the breakdown of why said athlete was worthy of being termed “most influential.” Following is a snippet from each athlete’s TIME piece. For more, visit TIME.

Serena Williams – Titan

Dwyane Wade: “I first met Serena over a decade ago in Miami when I joined the Heat. Since then, I’ve watched her grow and dominate in her sport, overcoming adversity to win title after title. There is no doubt that she has made an incredible impact on the world of tennis, but it’s her determination to never give up that has always resonated with me.”

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Lydia Ko – Pioneer

Annika Sorenstam: “Lydia Ko is exceptionally talented, mature beyond her years and well liked by golf fans and competitors alike. She is responsible for sparking increased interest in our sport not just in her native South Korea and adopted homeland of New Zealand but also among juniors across the globe.”

Jason Collins – Pioneer

Chelsea Clinton: “When Jason called to talk about his forthcoming Sports Illustrated cover story, “The Gay Athlete,” I realized at some point that I wasn’t surprised we were having the conversation we were. Not because I knew what we were going to talk about when I answered the phone. Rather, because it made eminent sense that it would be Jason becoming the first openly gay, still active pro athlete in a major U.S. sports league.”

Richard Sherman – Pioneer

Sean Gregory: “Sherman’s rant solidified his reputation as one of the brashest and most candid players in the buttoned-up NFL. More important, it sparked a national conversation about race, stereotyping and sportsmanship. When critics labeled the dreadlocked defensive star a “thug,” Sherman, a Compton, Calif.–raised Stanford graduate, engaged the debate, asking if the term was today’s way of calling him the N word? In a heartbeat, Sherman altered the discourse and emerged as the smartest voice in the room.”

Cristiano Ronaldo – Icon

Pelé: “Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most influential athletes in sports today. I greatly respect his competitive mind-set on the field, and it’s no surprise that he is currently considered the best soccer player in the world.”