The left-sided midfielder, who used the World Cup platform to bring attention to gender inequality in the world’s most popular sport, is the fourth American to win the honor. She joins Mia Hamm (2001 and 2002), Abby Wambach (2012) and Carli Lloyd (2015 and 2016).
U.S. teammate Alex Morgan finished second in the voting, and English defender Lucy Bronze was third.
Argentine forward Lionel Messi, the FC Barcelona superstar, was the men’s winner for the sixth time. Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) and Portuguese attacker Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) were the runners-up.
Five U.S. players were named to the Best XI all-star team: Rapinoe (Tacoma, Wash.-based Reign FC), Morgan (Orlando Pride), midfielders Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) and Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) and defender Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals).
Rounding out the all-star team were Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal; defenders Bronze, Nilla Fischer (Sweden) and Wendie Renard (France); French midfielder Amandine Henry; and Brazilian forward Marta (Orlando Pride).
Ellis — a graduate of Fairfax’s Robinson Secondary School and William & Mary — also won the coaching award after the 2015 World Cup title.
She will end her 5 ½-year tenure with friendlies against South Korea, on Oct. 3 in Charlotte and Oct. 6 in Chicago. Ellis, 53, has not decided what she will do next.
Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp was the men’s coaching recipient following the Reds’ triumph in the UEFA Champions League.
Votes were cast by captains and head coaches of national teams, media members and fans. The winners were announced at a ceremony in Milan.