Annika Sorenstam explains accepting honor after 'dark day in America's history'

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Annika Sorenstam on Tuesday addressed for the first time the controversy surrounding why she still received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 7, a day after the deadly riot at the Capitol Building.

In an interview with Golf Channel’s Steve Burkowski, Sorenstam said she was fulfilling her commitment after first being announced in March 2020 as the recipient of the country’s highest civilian honor, awarded to those who have made significant contributions to society. The ceremony was postponed at the time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 24 hours after President Trump helped incite a riot at the Capitol that left five people dead, Sorenstam, Gary Player and, posthumously, Babe Didrikson Zaharias were recognized in a ceremony that was closed to the press. 

Asked about the timing of the event in the wake of the deadly attack, and with Trump on the verge of getting impeached for a second time because of his instigation, Sorenstam said, “Well, I’m not one to second-guess. It was supposed to be in March 2020, and looking back at it, it’s just really about the people who have received it through history. I don’t want to spend any energy looking back, I like to spend energy looking forward, continue to open doors, create opportunities for the young girls around the world.”

Sorenstam on getting Presidential Medal of Freedom

Sorenstam called Jan. 6 a “dark day in America’s history” but didn’t say that she regretted her decision to attend. Last week, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to accept the award, citing the attack.

“Looking back, I don’t second-guess. I like to look forward, not spend energy on what could have been,” Sorenstam said. “It’s all about opening doors. That’s one thing I’ve learned. I’ve heard from a lot of people – you can imagine, a lot of opinions, a lot of comments. I hear clearly what those people say. I know they see it differently. But I listen and I embrace them all.”

The LPGA Hall of Famer was recently elected as the next president of the International Golf Federation. She’s in the field this week at the LPGA’s season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, where the 50-year-old is competing in the celebrity division.