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Outstanding female athletes nominated for Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year

Four of 25 candidates for Sports Illustrated’s coveted Sportsman of the Year award are female athletes — and three have already been honored by the WSF as Sportswoman of the Year award finalists. Maya Moore, Yani Tseng, Japan’s women’s soccer team and Abby Wambach will compete for the award against male stars like Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Dodger Matt Kemp and swimming sensation Ryan Lochte.

Sports Illustrated will name its choice for Sportsman of the Year on December 6. Leading up to the announcement, SI writers provided their nominees and the reason why they believe their candidate deserved the annual honor. What they said about the four females on the ballot:

Maya Moore, by Richard Deitsch:
"You search for words to describe Maya Moore and it always comes back to one: winner. It's a simple word with profound implications, but it truly best describes Moore on and off the court. In May, she graduated from UConn as arguably the greatest player in women's college basketball history. Four months later, she helped lead the Minnesota Lynx to the franchise's first WNBA title. During a year in which college scandals dominated the news cycle on a near-daily basis, Moore was a student-athlete sports fans could believe in. She's my Sportswoman of the Year candidate not just for her work this calendar year but for one of the most remarkable collegiate careers we've ever seen."

Yani Tseng, by Alan Shipnuck:
"All (Yani Tseng) does is win with grace and dignity. With 11 victories this year, including two major championships, Tseng has become not only golf's most unstoppable force but also the world's most dominant female athlete. Along the way this 22-year old from Taiwan has grown into an ambassador of all that is right with sports, and an easy choice for Sportswoman of the Year."

Japan Women's Soccer, by Matt Dollinger
"Nothing could bring back the 25,000 dead or missing from the enveloping tidal waves that swept six miles inland, and little could recede the growing tension caused by the country's potential nuclear fallout. But after four months spent reeling from the destruction, a magical run by Japan's women's World Cup team shed light on the country for a reason other than tragedy."

Abby Wambach, by Chris Mahr
"The fact that (Abby Wambach) has been the focal point of the U.S. National Team's offense for the better part of a decade — and has scored goals at a faster rate than legends Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly and Tiffeny Milbrett — when she's always the player opponents hone in on is a testament to her once-in-a-lifetime talent. It's also why she's my choice for SI's Sportswoman of the Year."

View full list of 25 nominees here.