Saracens and England star Maggie Alphonsi has been named the 2010 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.

Alphonsi, who lives in St Albans, beat competition from heptathlete Jessica Ennis, gymnast Beth Tweddle, Winter Olympics gold medallist Amy Williams, swimmer Fran Halsall and cyclist Emma Pooley to win the award.

Alphonsi received the award at a reception in London and she follows in the footsteps of previous winners such as Sally Gunnell, Denise Lewis and Dame Kelly Holmes.

The 26-year-old flanker has won 49 caps and was one of the stars of the World Cup this year as she helped England reach the final.

Alphonsi, who recently received her honorary degree from the University of Bedfordshire, said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to have won and I was just happy to have been shortlisted. It’s just so bizarre after picking up my honorary degree just a few days before as well.

“It was a really good evening and the other women have all achieved so much in their respective sports. It’s recognition for me and my team and I would like to thank everybody who voted for me. Things haven’t changed too much though as I still have to get up each morning to train.”

The winner was decided on a public vote after a shortlist was chosen by a panel of judges following nominations received from readers of The Sunday Times.