Aitana Bonmatí poses with her Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. GETTY IMAGES

Spain's women's football team and Aitana Bonmati were the big winners at the Laureus Gala held this Monday in Madrid, which honoured the best of 2023, while sports stars such as Novak Djokovic, Jude Bellingham and Simone Biles also received awards.

World champions Spain's women's football team has won the Laureus Award for Best Team. They beat off stiff competition from Manchester City, the South African men's rugby team, the Red Bull Racing team, the European Ryder Cup team and the German men's basketball team. 

The trophy was presented by Martina Navratilova and Alessandro del Piero. Bonmatí and her team-mates Salma Paralluelo and Ivana Andrés took the opportunity to pay tribute to the pioneers of Spanish football. Coach Montse Tomé was also present. 

The team award was in addition to the one Bonmati won as the best female player of the year. Bonmati had already won the Ballon d'Or. She was also named best player at the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Her award was presented by Usain Bolt, the 100 and 200 metres world record holder and star guest at the gala.

Bonmatí is the first female footballer to be named Sportswoman of the Year, while her Spanish team-mates were also honoured for their Women's World Cup triumph last summer. She beat Kenya's Faith Kipyegon, Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and Sha'Carri Richardson of the United States, American skier Mikaela Shiffrin and Polish tennis player Iga Swiatek.

La Roja were named World Team of the Year. They won the competition for the first time in their history. "Our national team is a group like no other - our strength comes from every challenge we have faced, both on and off the pitch," said Bonmati, who also won the Champions League with Barcelona.

Bonmati and her teammates have been praised for helping to fight sexism in the Spanish football federation. They protested after disgraced former president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed player Jenni Hermoso.

Novak Djokovic has been named World Sportsman of the Year for the fifth time at the Laureus Awards. Tennis icon Djokovic, who has won a record 24 Grand Slam titles, equalled former rival Roger Federer's tally at the prestigious ceremony in Madrid.

Djokovic, 36, won three Grand Slams and the ATP Finals last year. "I am incredibly honoured to have won my fifth. I think back to 2012 when I won it for the first time as a 24-year-old. "I am very proud to be here 12 years later. I look back on a year that has brought me and my fans a lot of excitement and success."

The world number one was presented with the award by former American footballer Tom Brady. Djokovic was chosen by the Laureus Academy after beating off competition from Argentina's Lionel Messi, Norway's Erling Haaland, Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, American athlete Noah Lyles and Dutch racing driver Max Verstappen.

Djokovic, who withdrew from the Madrid Masters 1000 this week, won the Laureus in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2019. He has now won 24 Grand Slam titles with victories at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open.

England international Jude Bellingham won the World Breakthrough of the Year award for his stunning start to life at Real Madrid. The award came a day after he scored the winning goal in the Clasico against Barcelona. The Briton has been with Real Madrid since joining from Borussia Dortmund in June 2023. In his first season at the club, Bellingham is the team's top scorer with 21 goals in all competitions.

Bellingham was named Best Under-21 Player at the Ballon d'Or awards. Members of the Laureus Academy voted for the Real Madrid player ahead of fellow nominees Josh Kerr of Great Britain, Colombian footballer Linda Caicedo, American tennis player Coco Gauff, Spanish footballer Salma Paralluelo and Chinese swimmer Qin Haiyang.

Gymnastics star Simone Biles won the World Comeback of the Year award for her great return after nearly two years of mental health problems that led to her withdrawal from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Biles is a three-time winner of the World Sportsperson of the Year award and won four golds at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Belgium. She won the all-around, floor exercise, balance beam and team titles. 

Diede de Groot won the award for the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. The Dutch wheelchair tennis player won an unprecedented third Grand Slam in a row on the calendar last year. The World Action Sportsperson of the Year award went to 14-year-old Australian skateboarder Arisa Trew.

These awards, which combine sport and glamour on the same red carpet, this time laid out at the Palacio de Cibeles, also have a charitable aspect, highlighting the work of the Nadal Foundation and the help it provides to young people at a risk of social exclusion in Spain and India.

Rafael Nadal was receiving his fifth Laureus, although this one was for his foundation and was collected by the foundation' director, his wife María Francisca Perelló. The Spaniard has already won the Best Player Award in 2011 and 2021, the Breakthrough Player Award in 2006 and the Comeback Player Award in 2014.

The awards have been presented annually since 2000. They are judged by a panel of 69 sports personalities from the Laureus Academy. After nearly three hours on the red carpet in the Plaza de Cibeles and along the Crystal Gallery of the Palacio, the headquarters of Madrid City Council, the ceremony was hosted by Cuban-American actor Andy García. 

Nominees Bellingham, Bonmati and Djokovic, along with guests Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Diego Simeone and Usain Bolt, received an enthusiastic welcome from the Cibeles audience.

Academy members Michael Johnson, Nadia Comaneci, Fabio Capello, Miguel Indurain, Ruud Gullit, Raúl González, Lindsay Vonn and Cafú were also very well-received by the crowd. So was the new Laureus ambassador, Spanish tennis star Garbiñe Muguruza, who announced her retirement on Saturday.