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36th Annual Salute: The Biggest Night in Women’s Sports

Tonight, the greatest female athletes descended upon New York City to attend the 36th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at Cipriani on Wall Street. Over 75 champion athletes walked the red carpet, before enjoying an evening full of inspiration and motivation to continue on their legacy in the next generation of female leaders.

Four incredible individuals were celebrated this evening for all of their incredible accomplishments in the world of women’s sports. We are proud to acknowledge the following as our 36th Annual Salute to Women in Sports award winners:

Serena Williams, winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Individual Sport). While Serena could not join us this evening, two young girls from the NYJTL took the podium with pride to accept the award on Serena’s behalf. Learn more about Serena here.

Tatyana McFadden, winner of the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award and a true embodiment of the word courage. Learn more about Tatyana here.

Carli Lloyd, winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award (Team Sport). Julie Foudy brought a group of girls whose favorite sport is soccer and their role models are Carli and the United States Women’s National Team to the stage to accept Carli’s award on her behalf and to wish Carli good luck in her match tomorrow against Brazil. Learn more about Carli here.

Don Sabo, Ph.D., winner of the Billie Jean King Contribution Award has been behind the Foundation’s research for more than 25 years. We are lucky to have him on our team. Learn more about Don here.

Quick Highlights from the 36th Annual Salute to Women in Sports:
Soccer star Julie Foudy and ESPN analyst sensation Jessica Mendoza co-hosted our Grand March of Athletes, while sports some high-tech bodysuits from EA Sports. This dynamic duo proudly read out all the proud accomplishments of 76 of the nation’s most decorated female athletes. Walking across the stage as their name was recited was our moment to celebrate each of these women for their incredible athletic achievements and their empowering breakthroughs in sport.

At the end of the Grand March, 20 athletes were held on stage for an extra acknowledgement as recipients of the Foundation’s Travel & Training Grant. Kelsey Campbell, a 2015 recipient, shared her personal and powerful story of struggling financially to continue to compete in her sport and how receiving the Travel & Training Grant was able to provide her with necessities, such as groceries and gas, to hone in on her sport and succeed at the elite level.

Between two-time World Champion Meryl Davis, four-time Paralympic medalist Alana Nichols and WSF President Angela Hucles, they were able to get the room on their feet and dancing to raise money. Donations raised over the course of the night went exclusively to our Sports 4 Life program. Sports 4 Life is a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11-18, in developmental youth sports programs. Through education, public awareness and grants to organizations nationwide, Sports 4 Life seeks to effect sustainable improvement to the overall health and development of girls in these communities.

Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, two out of five girls are now participating in sports compared to the prior one in twenty. However, that still means there are three out of five girls who are not receiving the overwhelming benefits of sports and physical activity. Thus, the theme of the evening centered around those “3” girls. To keep these three girls on everyone’s mind our speakers for the evening told the room their top 3 moments in sports. From tennis star Coco Vandeweghe to WSF Founder Billie Jean King to three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts to athletic icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee, each speaker provided the room with three personal moments in sports that impacted their life.

Through the Annual Salute, people came together to support female athletes and the inspiring achievements they have made in their sport. It is these phenomenal women who are breaking barriers and showing the next generation all that they can accomplish. As WSF CEO Deborah Slaner Larkin says, “For women to become leaders, they must see what they can be.”

This inspiring evening would not be possible without the support of our Annual Salute Co-Presenting Sponsors espnW, Gatorade, Fox Sports and NBC Sports. Thank you to them for all that they do to help us make this special event a success. We also want to thank our Event Partners Zeno Group, Getty Images and Colette Lee Inc. Productions for their support.

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