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The world’s top female athletes, leaders in sports media and industry figures gathered this week for three empowering and inspirational days packed with impactful conversations that went way beyond their love of sports.

From pro athletes overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts to the peril of having lipstick on your teeth when interviewing President Obama, no topic was too taboo or ridiculous at the 10th annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit.

Hosted by “SportsCenter” co-anchor Sage Steele, with a team of ESPN on-air talent taking the stage including Julie Foudy, Cari Champion, Sarah Spain, Katie Nolan, Jessica Mendoza and Maria Taylor, the event celebrated its decade milestone at the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, California.

Also Read: Rachel Nichols and 'The Jump' to Take Over for 'NBA Countdown' as ESPN's Top NBA Pregame Show

On Tuesday night, “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts shared countless stories from her illustrious career stemming back to the early ’90s when she was a sportscaster for ESPN with Champion for her signature “Be Honest” series.

Known for sharing her personal battles with viewers as much as the news stories she’s covering, Roberts said that really started in 2005 shortly after she took a “leap of faith” to leave ESPN for a  job at “GMA.”

“Then Hurricane Katrina blew in and my parents were in the storm zone,” Alabama-born Roberts said. “I lost contact with my family and just when we heard how bad the storm was, I was asked to go there on assignment but I told my producer that I couldn’t go on the air until I found if out that my family was safe.” Roberts had a police officer take to her parent’s house, where her mom “encouraged me to go do my job and tell people what was happening there, so I got back just in time for the live shot,” she recalled.

The TV veteran then famously broke down in tears on-air after delivering the report. “I couldn’t contain my emotions at that time … knowing that people were tuning in not knowing about their loved ones. I thought I was going to be fired but it was the opposite and people called in saying much it impacted them,” she said. “It taught me about the power of vulnerability and being honest — people will respect that. I think vulnerability does show strength … there is no weakness in that.”

Also Read: ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen Advanced the Ball on Covering All Sports-Except One

That strength in sharing our weaknesses was a theme throughout the summit, especially on Monday’s “World Class Athlete Panel” with international sports stars Becky Lynch, Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir, Liz Cambage and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

“When first I started playing basketball, I couldn’t put one foot in front of another, I was so uncoordinated,” WNBA single-game scoring record-holder Cambage said. Along with getting over having two left feet, the Australian national team player said she has been “struggling with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. I got into a vicious cycle of drinking and smoking.” Hitting rockbottom in 2016 and landing on a 24-hour suicide watch was “my big wake up that I really needed to change where I was in life,” Cambage said. “Everyone has a different story and we all need to support each other.”

Irish-born wrestler Becky Lynch, who is the only woman to hold the WWE Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships concurrently, admitted that she failed Phys Ed. when she was 13. “I thought they passed everyone just by showing up! I stood there afterwards with my field hockey stick in my hand and had a hard talk with myself,” Lynch said. That teenage reflection prompted her to join a wrestling school, which led to contracts in Canada and Japan. “Then my visa ran out and I had to move home to Ireland and live with my ma,” Lynch admitted.

Subsequent jobs included working as a personal trainer in Orlando, Florida and as a flight attendant (“which believe it or not, is not really like being a wrestler”), acting class and stunt work, before she finally got the confidence back to go for a WWE tryout. “Then everything came into place and all that passion came back,” Lynch said.

Also Read: ESPN to Launch Daily Sports Show on Quibi in 2020

From the fight for equal pay to diversity and inclusion, here are some of the top thought-provoking and conversation-sparking quotes from the 2019 espnW Summit.

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Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America”
[On getting the exclusive interview with President Obama announcing he was changing his stance on marriage equality after she was diagnosed with cancer] “The day before [the interview], I was at the doctor’s office. Only my then-assistant and my close family knew I was there … and was told I had 1-2 years to live [if the treatment didn’t work]. Following the interview, my producer, who was standing off to the side, held up a card after made the statement. You know what that card said? ‘Lipstick on teeth!’ I thought it was going to say something about making headlines around the world!’

“I later asked him why he chose me to make such a historical announcement and he said it was because he knew I was going to let him finish his sentences, without jumping in and making it about me. I was thinking then that I didn’t know if I was going to live to benefit from these changes.

[On in the launch of Rock’n Robin Productions]: “I want to do programming that creates a reaction and then calls to action. I want to lift people up, find programming and stories that tell people they can anything they want.”

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WWE Superstar Becky Lynch
[On her “manniversary” and why she chose the moniker, The Man]: “This year has been crazy for me and I just celebrate my manniversary.’ I decided I was going to take over that. Even when I first got to NXT, I was told to move more like a girl. Well, I am a girl and I am moving … I had a little talk with myself at 15. I think we all have that voice, but often times we can ignore that. But when we listen to our intuition and gut, the possibilities are endless. If I can do this, anyone can do anything … I want everybody to want to be better than me.”

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Grammy award winner Ella Mai
[On being serenaded by Stevie Wonder]: “He actually called me. I was in the middle of a photoshoot and thought it was too good to be true. I recognized his voice right away… I was like, ‘what is going on?’… I was so caught off guard.”

“I used to want to be Alicia Keys so bad, I think you can probably tell.”

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Kendall Coyne, pro player for the Minnesota Whitecaps and member of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team
“There hasn’t been one thing about this sport that has made it professional [for women] — the product; the treatment of the players; the pay. Full disclosure: last year I played in the league and made $7,000 and was questioned why I didn’t move to Minnesota to be a part of the team … I was the highest paid player on the team.”

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ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro
“In terms of live events, it’s women who are driving the growth, so we are continuing to invest in content that will help us grow. On the storytelling side, we try to make decisions based on data and we’re finding that women want storytelling — the game around the game. An example of this was reflected in our recent coverage of the NFL Draft where ESPN partnered with ABC. ESPN covered the x’s and o’s, while on the ABC side, it was Robin Roberts who covered the story behind the players.

“If you’re just focused on diversity and inclusion, then you’re not doing it right. You need belonging.”

ESPN Images

WNBA payer Liz Cambage
[On opening up about her battle with depression and mental issues]: “You need people who can get out of bed and feel like they’re operating in a safe environment … Your darkest moments are what’s going to show you the light and show you the way you wanna go. It’s gonna teach you everything about yourself. Everyone has a different story. We just gotta support each other.”

ESPN Images

“Sunday Night Baseball” analyst Jessica Mendoza
[On her transition into the booth] “It was just a geographical change, that’s what’s interesting. I was doing the same thing (on the sidelines), but because I was on the field, it was more accepted. We see women on the field, we see them interviewing players, we see them coming out of the dugout. But if you put them in the booth – like, hold up, wait a second – you haven’t been there before. This is different. The same words were coming out of my mouth.”

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The U.S. Women’s National Team has successfully defended their world title, winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the fourth time in program history with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Lyon, France.

The USWNT previously won the World Cup — which is held every four years — in 1991, 1999 and 2015, though Sunday’s final was a much more nervy affair than their 5-2 victory over Japan four years ago. Despite sustained pressure by the U.S., the Dutch defense and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal kept them off the scoreboard for the entire first half, marking the first time in this tournament that the U.S. failed to score in the first 15 minutes of the match.

But in the 60th minute, the U.S. was granted a penalty kick after replay review found that forward Alex Morgan was hit in the arm by the cleat of center back Stefanie van der Gragt. Captain Megan Rapinoe converted the shot to give the U.S. the lead, with Rose Lavelle following it up with a goal of her own eight minutes later. Rapinoe scored six goals in the tournament and, at the age of 34, became the oldest woman to score a goal in a World Cup final.

Also Read: Telemundo FIFA Women's World Cup Campaign Highlights Challenges Faced by Female Players (Video)

The USWNT’s road to victory faced few speed bumps, beginning with a dominating 13-0 victory over Thailand and followed up with shutouts over Chile, Sweden and Spain. In the quarterfinal, the U.S. faced host team and odds-on favorite France before a sold-out crowd in Paris, but an early goal by Rapinoe allowed the team to cruise to a 2-1 victory despite a late goal by Les Bleus.

Then, the U.S. defeated England 2-1 in the semifinal despite Rapinoe sitting the game out with a minor injury. Early mistakes by both teams led to a 1-1 score early in the game, but the U.S. pulled ahead with a 31st minute goal by Alex Morgan. England seemed to tie the game in the second half with a goal, but it was negated after replay found that the forward was offsides. U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher also became a hero to her teammates after she saved a potential game-tying penalty shot.

For the U.S., this victory comes as the women’s team has renewed its push for equal pay to what the men’s national team earns. The USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging inequality not just in pay but “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment.” The two sides are set to meet for mediation in the coming weeks.

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Rapinoe made headlines in June after video surface of her saying she would not go to “the f–ing White House” if the team won the World Cup. President Trump was swift to respond in a series of tweets.

“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team,” the president wrote in part.

“I think that I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American,” Rapinoe told ESPN Wednesday. “If we want to talk about the ideals that we stand for, all the songs and the anthem and sort of what we were founded on, I think I’m extremely American.”

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A version of this story about “Champions” first appeared in the Foreign Language Issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

Javier Fesser’s film “Champions,” a huge hit in Spain, finds a hotheaded professional basketball coach sentenced to community service working with a team of mentally disabled players, all of them played by nonprofessional actors.

The film is Spain’s entry in this year’s Oscar foreign-language race, and this interview is one of a series of conversations TheWrap had with directors of the foreign contenders.

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions

What led you to this story?
JAVIER FESSER: This is my fifth feature film, and the first time I have worked with a screenplay that was not my idea originally. Three years ago, I read the screenplay and fell in love with the characters. Not with the story, with the characters. I felt myself so close to this positive point of view. It was the first time that I felt, “I am the right person to tell this story.”

What was the casting process like?
It was more than a casting. We spent more than four months meeting people, with the amazing help of associations and basketball teams for the disabled. For me, the casting was the way to know deeply their lives, their families, their thoughts.

Usually in casting, you are looking for the perfect actors to play the roles that you already wrote. In this case, it was the opposite. After casting, the original author and I rewrote the entire screenplay using the personalities of the people, their experiences, their real lives. I was forgetting my imagination, and taking everything from them.

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In the movie, the coach has to impose a discipline on his players that they’re not used to. In the shooting, did you have to do the same thing with your actors?
I felt a lot of times like the coach in the story, yeah. When you’re working with actors, you do a take and another take and another take. You can modify and change things. But in this case, in every take there is some brilliant thing that it is not possible to reproduce.

Did you do much rehearsal?
No, no. Because they are not actors. My job was not to teach them how to act, but to create a comfortable environment, an atmosphere that they feel comfortable to be themselves. So rehearsal was for me, not for them.

I had to put my level very, very high. The things that happen in front of the camera are often very touching, very beautiful things, and you have to be at that level to catch them.

To read more of TheWrap’s Foreign Language Issue, click here.

www.thewrap.com | 11/17/18

Sport in Spain in the second half of 20th century has been dominated by football. Other popular sport activities include basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, motorcycling, Formula One, water sports, golf, and skiing. Spain has also hosted a number of international events such as the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1982 FIFA World Cup. With Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon championships in 2008 and 2010, the 2006 World Basketball Championship, the 2009 Basketball Eurocup, the 2008 Tennis Davis Cup, Atletico Madrid UEFA Europa League 2010, FC Barcelona European success in 2006 and 2009, the football team bringing home the Euro 2008 trophy & the 2010 FIFA World Cup trophy and Carlos Sastre's Tour de France triumph more recently, several papers have looked beyond Sastre's win to claim that Spain is enjoying something of a sporting "Golden Age"-similar to the Spanish 17th century domination in painting and literature.


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