The awards recognize sporting achievements for the calendar year 2009. The winners will be named on March 10 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
Last year's winner Bolt and four-times winner Federer have both been nominated again, along with Barcelona's footballer Lionel Messi, long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and Italy's seven-times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.
Twice winner Williams is nominated again for sportswoman of the year along with five others including Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser and American 400 meters world champion Sanya Richards.
"This has been a great year for sport and the academy is going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for as winners," said Edwin Moses, Laureus World Sports Academy chairman and double Olympic gold medalist.
(Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Clare Fallon)
(For the Reuters sports blog Left Field: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport/)