TIME has named its 100 most influential people of 2023, a list which includes skier Mikaela Shiffrin, WNBA star Brittney Griner and No. 1 tennis player Iga Swiatek.
Fellow Team USA player Sue Bird wrote the tribute to Griner as part of the list. Bird had been a vocal component of the campaign to bring the Phoenix Mercury center home while she was detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.
Sue Bird (@S10Bird) on Brittney Griner: "BG spent 10 months in Russian prison, wrongfully detained, but never lost hope, or her sense of humor. She was BG, through and through, throughout her horrible ordeal" #TIME100 https://t.co/yM453RIjMN— TIME (@TIME) April 13, 2023
Sue Bird (@S10Bird) on Brittney Griner: "BG spent 10 months in Russian prison, wrongfully detained, but never lost hope, or her sense of humor. She was BG, through and through, throughout her horrible ordeal" #TIME100 https://t.co/yM453RIjMN
“Underneath this story of inner strength is so much more,” writes Bird. “BG’s wrongful detainment brought attention to issues like the inequities in pay for women athletes, which sometimes compel us to put ourselves in dangerous situations to maximize our financial worth. It brought to light the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained around the world, and BG continues to use her platform as a sports superstar to advocate for their release.
“It speaks to the power of the women who rallied around her—Black women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, our WNBA community—and who made certain her name was never forgotten, that she’d return home.”
Shiffrin, meanwhile, is recognized for her record-breaking runs on the slopes this season that helped her break Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time wins record.
Written by fellow skiing legend Lindsey Vonn, she calls Shiffrin the next “female global sports superstar” with Serena Williams stepping away from tennis.
“She’s really stepped into the spotlight and done a great job moving the needle for our sport,” she writes. “She’s competing against herself at this point—she could reach 100 wins. It’s just a matter of how long Mikaela Shiffrin wants to keep at it. The sky’s the limit for her.”
Swiatek’s excerpt, meanwhile, is written by Shiffrin. The two are known friends and supported one another throughout their recent runs of success.
“Throughout her rise to the top of tennis—and the top of sport—Iga has shown vulnerability and courage. She strives relentlessly to improve her game. She gives credit to those who have supported her, without discounting her own skills and work. She has advocated for mental health and supported Ukrainians in their fight to protect their home,” writes Shiffrin. “As an athlete, and more importantly as a human, she embodies the kind of confidence that everyone should emulate—the confidence of action over mere talk.
“When Iga walks out on the court, she puts her eye on the ball, and she doesn’t let it stray.”