The Women's Sports Foundation Celebrates Top Athletes at the 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports
East Meadow, NY (October 19, 2011) – Tonight at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) honored the most accomplished women in sports and the girls they inspire with ESPN’s Bonnie Bernstein as the host of the 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Gala. WSF Founder Billie Jean King, WSF President Laila Ali, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Academy Award-winning actress Holly Hunter were among the high profile attendees alongside notable athletes such as Venus Williams (Tennis), Maya Moore (Basketball), Mallory Weggemann (Swimming), Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating), and members of the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Soccer team.
“It is remarkable to have this many influential, powerful and strong women in one room – there is really no other event that compares to the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute,” said Women’s Sports Foundation Founder, Billie Jean King. “I am so proud of every single one of these women and the great success they have accomplished thus far.”
The event kicked off with the Grand March of Athletes, an annual tradition of the event, in which iconic swimmer, Diana Nyad, leads some of the world’s best female athletes across the stage. Tonight’s event also highlighted the extensive work the Women’s Sports Foundation is doing to celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of Title IX, a law which ensures equal access to both boys and girls in federally-funded educational programs and activities. Women’s Sports Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Olson, asked event attendees to participate in “Get Your Game On, Girls!” the WSF’s call to action to encourage everyone to get in the game in support of girls’ and women’s sports, and to help keep the promise of Title IX alive.
“The Annual Salute really encompasses the mission of the Women’s Sports Foundation. We want to provide ample opportunities for young girls to get involved in sports so that they too can someday be honored for their talent, strength and perseverance,” said Women’s Sports Foundation Chief Executive Office, Kathryn Olson. “The extraordinary women featured at this event serve as role models for future female athletes, and that is something that truly deserves a celebration.”
Women’s Sports Foundation President and world class athlete Laila Ali took to the stage with two young girls from the Foundation’s GoGirlGo! program, to applaud the next generation of young athletes. “I am so proud of the work of the Women’s Sports Foundation and could not be more honored to play a part in their contribution to women in sports,” said Women’s Sports Foundation President, Laila Ali. “Women in sports are a force to be reckoned with and the Women’s Sports Foundation has united that force tonight.”
The Pac-12 Conference was recognized with a special tribute during the evening’s festivities for being a leader in athletic excellence and for providing rich opportunity for women in sports. The 2010-11 season marked the 25-year anniversary of women’s sports in the conference.
Please see below for a complete list of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports award winners:
Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team, Winner of the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award
The Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, for the sport’s accomplishments and the athletes' 12-year push to be allowed to compete in the Olympic Winter Games. In April 2011, the International Olympic Committee added a women's ski jumping event (normal hill) to the Olympic Winter Games program beginning in Sochi, Russia 2014.
The Wilma Rudolph Courage Award is presented to a female athlete who exhibits extraordinary courage in her athletic performance, demonstrates the ability to overcome adversity, makes significant contributions to sports and serves as an inspiration and role model for others. This award was first given in 1996 to Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Yani Tseng, Winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Individual Sport)
Yani Tseng received the prestigious Sportswoman of the Year Award, given to an individual sport athlete who exhibits exceptional performances over a 12-month time span. Tseng, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, became the youngest player ever at 22-years-old, male or female, to win five Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) majors when she successfully defended the RICOH Women's British Open title in July 2011. In 2011, Tseng earned six LPGA titles and won all three non-LPGA events she participated in, including the Taifong Ladies Open, ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters, both events co-sponsored by the ALPG Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
Past winners include Erin Popovich, Michelle Kwan and Gail Devers. This year, the winner was selected based on a total score collected by the public and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Awards Committee. Public votes were captured via the Women’s Sports Foundation Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation
Visa, Winner of the Billie Jean King Contribution Award
The Billie Jean King Contribution Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrates a lasting commitment and dedication to the growth of sports, fitness and physical activity for women and girls, was awarded to Visa. The Company has a longstanding history of supporting women’s sports through direct support and sponsorship of the Olympics, FIFA Women's World Cup, national championships, National Olympic Committees, women’s national teams and countless individual athletes. Since 1986, Visa has used its marketing campaigns to introduce up-and-coming female athletes and new Olympic medal sports to fans around the world. Over the past 25 years, Visa has proudly supported and promoted through its marketing, the U.S. Women's Ice Hockey Team, the U.S. Women's Pole Vault Team, the U.S. Women's Bobsled Team, the U.S. Women's Ski Jumping Team, Women's Beach Volleyball and Women's Snowboard Cross. Visa is also the longest standing sponsor of USA Gymnastics, U.S. Ski and Snowboard and USA Track and Field.
Winter Vinecki, Winner of the 2011 ANNIKA Inspiration Award
Twelve-year-old tri-athlete Winter Vinecki was the recipient of the ANNIKA Inspiration Award, presented on-stage by Annika Sorenstam. The Women's Sports Foundation and the ANNIKA Foundation have partnered to create the ANNIKA Inspiration Award to honor an exceptional young female athlete.
Vinecki, who has been participating in triathlons since the age of five, founded Team Winter, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding prostate cancer research and raising prostate cancer awareness, in honor of her late father, who lost his life to an aggressive form of prostate cancer. To date, Vinecki has raised more than $300,000 to battle prostate cancer and has no plans of slowing down. Vinecki’s passion for raising awareness has earned her national acclaim including winning the 2010 and 2011 IronKids National Championship, and acts as the IronKids youth triathlon series Ambassador.
Abby Wambach, Winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Team Sport)
Abby Wambach received the esteemed Sportswoman of the Year Award, given to an individual athlete in a team sport who exhibits exceptional performances over a 12-month time span. Wambach earned this award for her triumphant season including being named the 2010 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year (for the fourth time) and named to the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Best XI in October 2010. During the 2010 WPS season, she scored 13 goals (No. 2 in WPS) and eight assists (tied for No. 2) while piling up six multiple goal games. Wambach’s four goals in Germany made her the USA’s all-time leading scorer in Women’s World Cup history with a total of 13 goals, moving her past the great Michelle Akers. Wambach, who plays on the WPS’ Boca Raton magicJack team, tied for the second most goals during the season (9) despite playing only 11 regular season matches due to National Team commitments.
Past winners include Venus and Serena Williams, Jessica Mendoza and Mia Hamm. This year, the winner was selected based on a total score collected by the public and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Awards Committee. Public votes were captured via the Women’s Sports Foundation Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation.
The 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports was co-presented by ESPN, espnW, Gatorade® and Playtex Sport. Event partners included official airline sponsor American Airlines, beauty salon partners MAC and Salon Ziba New York, and photo partner Getty Images.
Photos from the event can be viewed on the Women's Sports Foundation page, www.Facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation.
About Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation, founded in 1974, is the leader in promoting sports, health and education for girls and women. With Billie Jean King as its founder and ongoing visionary, the Women’s Sports Foundation continues to have a profound impact on female athletics, from its vigorous advocacy of Title IX legislation to providing grants and scholarships, grassroots programs for underserved girls, and groundbreaking research. An agent for change, the foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and is recognized globally for its leadership, vision, strength, expertise and influence. For more information, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.