(Reuters) – Retired Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam on Tuesday opened up about her decision to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom a day after the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol in early January by a mob seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s election loss.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, many questioned whether the ceremony to award the nation’s highest civilian honor should have even taken place or if the recipients should have attended.
Sorenstam, speaking in a Golf Channel interview, said she was fulfilling a commitment by attending a White House ceremony that was originally scheduled for last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” Sorenstam, 50, told Golf Channel.
“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.”
Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building and forced the evacuation of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the rampage.
While Sorenstam called the U.S. Capitol attack a “dark day in America’s history,” she did not say she regretted her decision to attend a ceremony where she was recognised along with fellow golfers Gary Player and, posthumously, Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
“Looking back, I don’t second-guess. I like to look forward, not spend energy on what could have been,” said Sorenstam, who is third on the all-time list with 72 LPGA titles.
“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.”
Last week, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he decided not to accept the Medal of Freedom from Trump in the wake of the siege of the Capitol by the president’s supporters.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)