WASHINGTON, DC – The late golf legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias was honored posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on January 7 along with two other more recent top golfers, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, Reuters reported.
Zaharias won 10 golf majors in her career and two track & field gold medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games.
Considered one of the greatest American athletes of all time, she married Greek-American wrestler George Zaharias (originally named Theodore Vetoyanis) in 1938. He then retired from wrestling to manage her career. Mrs. Zaharias passed away from cancer in 1956 at age 45.
George Zaharias was posthumously inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020 in the Pioneer Era category which includes wrestlers active between the Civil War era and 1946.
The couple’s story was recounted in the 1975 TV movie Babe which starred Alex Karras as Zaharias and his own future real-life wife Susan Clark as Didrikson. Clark won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of the sports legend.
The White House said in a statement about the honor, “Today, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Babe Zaharias. The President also presented the award to previously announced recipients Annika Sorenstam and Gary J. Player,” Reuters reported.
The honorees were announced in March but the ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported, adding that “Trump, who is an avid golfer and owns several courses around the world, has played with both Sorenstam and Player.”
“The ceremony offered a brief distraction from the chaos that has engulfed the White House following events on Wednesday when Trump at a rally fired up his supporters to overturn the election result before a mob swarmed the Capitol,” Reuters reported.