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35th Annual Salute: Celebrating the Best in Women’s Sports and the Future Leaders They Inspire

Leaders. Not just a word we use regularly to characterize captains, or coaches, or MVPs or All-Stars. Leaders are what sports create – strong, confident, competent girls and women who succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the boardroom. Tonight, at the 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports, we celebrated leading scorers, leaders of world rankings and leaders in courage and contributions, but we also celebrated every girl inspired by exceptional performances and incredible athletes. Girls who might one day earn athletic scholarships and run corporations or countries… whatever it is that they dream big to do.

The defining reason for our gathering at Cipriani Wall Street was to honor four exceptional athletes. We are proud to acknowledge the following as our 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports award winners:

Simone Biles, Winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Individual Sport).Learn more about Simone here.

Meryl Davis, winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Team Sport). Learn more about Meryl here.

Tegla Laroupe, winner of the Billie Jean King Contribution Award. Learn more about Tegla here.

Noelle Pikus-Pace, winner of the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. Learn more about Noelle here.

More highlights from the 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports:

As 55 of the nation’s most accomplished female athletes paraded across the stage, Grand March of Athletes co-hosts Jessica Mendoza and Julie Foudy proudly recited accomplishments ranging from Olympic gold medals to Guinness World Records, World Championships to record-breaking jumps. From team sports to individual competition, bobsled to badminton, on the court or in the pool, it was our honor to celebrate these women as the faces of iconic athletic achievement and incredible inspiration.

WSF President Angela Ruggiero was joined on stage after the Grand March by Gabby Valencia, a GoGirlGo! participant from New York Junior Tennis and Learning and Mo’Ne Davis, baseball superstar and the first girl to pitch a no-hitter in the Little League World Series. Gabby and Mo’Ne shared with the audience what they love about playing sports and where they hope sports one day will take them.

Because the Foundation celebrates its 40th birthday this year, athletes who also presented the night’s awards were asked to share, in 40 seconds or less, a story about a time when sports changed their life for the better. Michelle Kwan, Donna de Varona, Nastia Liukin, Billie Jean King and more shared stories that ranged from funny to inspirational, but each story was awe-inspiring in its own way. To cap off the 40th celebrations, First Lady Michelle Obama sent her birthday wishes to the WSF through a personal video that played during the gala.

Without the support of our Annual Salute Co-Presenting Sponsors espnW, FOX sports, Gatorade and NBC Sports this incredible event could never happen. A huge thank you for their support, expertise and dedication to our cause. Big thanks also to our media partner Zeno Group, and official photo partner Getty Images, an irreplaceable component to every successful Annual Salute and finally, Colette Lee productions, the official beauty suite partner of the 35th Annual Salute.

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