BILLIE JEAN KING, MARIA SHARAPOVA AND ALY RAISMAN HEADLINE ANA INSPIRING WOMEN IN SPORTS CONFERENCE

March 17, 2017

Billie Jean King, tennis great and one of the 20th century’s most respected and influential people, will headline the second-annual ANA Inspiring Women in Sports conference, tournament officials announced today.

The conference will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, in advance of the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major championship of the season. A limited number of tickets are available to the public by visiting www.anainspiration.com/conference.

“It is important that all of us – especially women – have an opportunity to participate in events like the ANA Inspiring Women in Sports Conference,” said King. “Sports are a microcosm of society and athletes have an opportunity to use their sport as a platform to enact change and inspire others. I look forward to joining these world-class athletes and having a candid discussion about the importance of action and change in sports and in society.”

King, a sports icon and social justice pioneer who became the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will deliver the keynote address followed by a question and answer session with conference emcee Julie Foudy. Other participants include former world No. 1 tennis star Maria Sharapova, three-time Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman, 2014 ANA Inspiration champion Lexi Thompson, ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion and U.S. women’s softball team gold medalist and ESPN’s Sunday night baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova added: “I am honored to have an opportunity to spend time with so many inspiring women and tell the story of my journey as an athlete. Tennis and golf are similar in many ways and this tournament is one of the best in the world, similar to one of our Grand Slams. It is always fascinating and educational for me to see how the best athletes in the world prepare for one of their majors, and I am pleased to be a part of it.”

Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, All Nippon Airways, commented, “For decades Mission Hills Country Club has been the historic scene of a golf tournament that has truly helped to change the face of sport worldwide. Its impact goes far beyond the game of golf so we believe it is very fitting that it is now a home for a new tradition. We are proud that the of the second-annual ANA Inspiring Women in Sports conference offers the perfect platform to continue the legacy of breaking down barriers, inspiring future generations and empowering women in sport. Last year our speakers predicted that golf’s return to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016 would be a changing moment. They were right and we cannot wait to hear the thoughts of our participants this year.”

Paralympic swimmer Victoria Arlen will also take part in the conference and share her incredible story. Arlen spent four years in a coma “locked” inside her own body: completely aware of what was going on, but unable to move or communicate. Arlen, who now works for ESPN, defied the odds through her recovery, earning three Silvers and a Gold medal as a swimmer at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Foudy, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, returns as emcee.

“Following the successful debut of the ANA Inspiring Women in Sports conference last year, we are so pleased to once again invite some of world’s most celebrated and inspirational female athletes and influencers to share their stories,” said Gabe Codding, ANA Inspiration tournament director. “Thanks to the vision of our title sponsor, ANA, we have a platform to showcase the inspired journeys of these incredible role models.”

Produced by IMG, the conference will take place in the ANA Hospitality Pavilion adjacent to the 18th green of the Dinah Shore Tournament Course and Poppie’s Pond. In 1988, three-time ANA Inspiration winner Amy Alcott made the first-ever champion’s leap in Poppie’s Pond, thus inspiring the LPGA’s most recognizable tradition that carries on to today.

Last year’s inaugural ANA Inspiring Women in Sports conference was headlined by Missy Franklin, Lydia Ko, Annika Sorenstam, Lindsey Vonn, Abby Wambach and Kristi Yamaguchi with a keynote address from Arianna Huffington.