Of all the lists published by magazines throughout the year, Time's list of the 100 most influential people is one of the most respected.
The list honors global leaders, innovators and pioneers. Everyone from President Obama to Scooter Braun. And in this interconnected day and age, it shouldn't be surprising that several athletes made the cut.
What's interesting is that there were no repeats from last year, when Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Novak Djokovic, Oscar Pistorius, Lionel Messi and Yani Tseng were honored.
Below are the four athletes who made the cut in 2013:
For the complete list of honorees, see here.
The Miami Heat forward was the only athlete in the magazine's "Titans" section. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter penned James' entry, writing, "His dedication, devotion and focus have won the admiration of fans — and his athletic peers. He’s someone anyone, in any profession, can look up to. Set the bar high for yourself, like LeBron does."
The 28-year-old skier landed in the "Icons" section. Danica Patrick had the honor of writing about Vonn, saying, "We can relate to each other because our sports are so similar, given the speed involved and the concentration level required. There’s an immediate level of respect when you meet someone who knows what you go through."
The controversial Italian prodigy made the list for the first time. Gianfranco Zola, a former Italian soccer star, dispelled certain notions of Balotelli with his writeup: "From afar, people may think he’s a madman, but he isn’t. Mario is a lovely guy, very humble and very funny. I can assure people he has always been a pleasure to deal with."
While many Americans may not be familiar with Li, she is a pioneer in China, a country where tennis is booming. Indeed, 116 million people watched as Li won last year's French Open. "That kind of exposure is crucial to our sport," wrote Chris Evert, "and it never would have happened without Li."