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How Cisco is helping power Nelly Korda and the LPGA

Nelly Korda, at the AIG Women’s Open in August, has four titles on the LPGA Tour this year. (Warren Little/R&A via Getty Images)

Not even Nelly Korda predicted the year she would have on the golf course.

After COVID-19 forced the suspension of part of the 2020 season, Korda has doubled her wins on the LPGA Tour in 2021, claimed her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The 23-year-old enters the Solheim Cup this weekend ranked No. 1 in the world after the most dominant season on tour of any women’s golfer.

Cisco has been following Korda’s career ascent with pride.

The technology company partners with Korda and eight other golfers across the PGA, LPGA and APGA Tours, creating one of the most diverse rosters of athlete brand ambassadors in golf. When Cisco signed Korda along with older sister Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang in January 2020, she was coming off of a few titles and her first top-10 ranking, but the company couldn’t have known how quickly she would rise.

The reputation Korda has built since then is what makes her an ideal representative of Cisco’s mission in golf. Through their involvement in the sport, Cisco is committed to creating more visibility for women’s golf and ultimately inspiring the next generation of female golfers.

“The last 18 months have truly been a whirlwind,” Korda said. “Obviously when I partnered with Cisco at the beginning of last year, no one could have imagined what would come with the Tour being suspended and the world really coming to a halt.

“But to come out of such an uncertain time playing the best golf of my career, and to win my first major championship, become World No. 1 and win an Olympic gold medal all in the last few months is more than I ever could have dreamed.”


Cisco first began working with the United States Golf Association (USGA) in the fall of 2018 as its Official Technology Partner. As the company’s investment in the sport grew, so did its interest in supporting promising golfers who are primed to succeed on the course and share the company’s values and corporate purpose to power a more inclusive future for all.

Less than two years after entering the sport, Cisco signed the Kordas and Kang as their first female ambassadors — and have watched them turn into three of the most successful golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Kang, 28, has been a staple on the LPGA Tour since 2011, accumulating five wins and a Women’s LPGA Championship. In 2020, Kang won the Vare Trophy, awarded to the golfer with the lowest scoring average on tour that year. She backed up that performance with seven top-10 finishes in 2021 and currently ranks eighth on the tour.

Danielle Kang won two LPGA titles in 2020, adding to her career haul. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Before Nelly Korda rose up the professional golf ranks, her sister Jessica Korda was already making a name for herself. Now 28, Jessica joined the LPGA Tour at 17 years old and has won six LPGA titles, including the tour opener in January. With four top-10 finishes so far this year, she currently ranks 18th in the world.

In addition to their success on tour, all three golfers want to help grow the game for women, and they appreciate how Cisco is helping realize that vision.

“They’re incredible individuals who we are so proud to have represent our brand,” Christina Leong, Cisco’s Global Sports Sponsorships Manager, told Just Women’s Sports. “They share a commitment and a vision for growing the game and inspiring this new up-and-coming generation of golf fans and players through our innovation and technology.

“And that’s just as important to us, if not more so, than how they play on the course.”

Leong stressed Cisco’s vision that people of all ages, genders and ethnicities see themselves reflected in the game of golf, regardless of their background.

That goal goes hand-in-hand with Cisco’s commitment to bring the game of golf to more people through innovations and technology, which became especially important throughout the pandemic.

“COVID definitely made us get creative but also really allowed us to make lemonade out of lemons,” Leong said. “In such a challenging environment, technology became an even more crucial component in connecting fans, players and media.”

That meant, for example, that players still had a piece of their family with them as they teed off at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, thanks to video messages recorded via Webex by Cisco, the industry-leading video collaboration solution.

When fans were barred from attending tournaments in person last year because of COVID-19, Cisco brought them as close to the action as possible with a virtual grandstand to mimic the feeling of being on the course. Cisco and the USGA also worked together to create a virtual media center that used Webex to conduct pre-tournament and post-round video interviews at both the men’s and women’s Opens.

This year, Cisco and the USGA brought one of their most unique innovations to the golf course, 4DReplay, which allowed golfers and fans to view a player’s swing at 360 degrees. With 88 cameras set up in a ring around the tee box, the video captured enough footage that it could be paused at 34 different points in the motion. Not only could NBC show the technology on their broadcasts, adding to their analysis of players’ swings, but fans could watch the clips on demand through the USGA app.

The response was universally positive, with many golfers pushing 4D clips on their social media accounts.

Ahead of this year’s championship, Cisco also used a mobile cart powered by Webex to surprise young golfers with virtual clinics from San Francisco to San Diego. Golf personality Tisha Alyn hosted the events and Cisco’s PGA and LPGA ambassadors assisted in the sessions.

“We are trying to tap into that next generation, having the kids meet some of their favorite players,” Leong said. “And they then got these virtual autograph sessions that were hosted on the Webex mobile cart during the actual U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open.”


Through all of the trials of the past year, Cisco has remained committed to creating a level playing field for the men’s and women’s games.

“Cisco’s purpose as a company is to power an inclusive future,” Leong said. “That means creating equal opportunities for the women’s game and empowering diverse groups of people to participate in the game of golf.”

Earlier this year, Cisco’s sponsorship of the inaugural Billy Horschel APGA Tour Invitational, which featured some of the most promising minority golfers, included a roundtable and seminars aimed at opening doors for players who may not have had those opportunities otherwise.

“We just want to make sure that all genders, all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds are well represented,” Leong said. “The more diverse people and backgrounds that we can attract, and the more types of people that are represented, it will ultimately inspire and drive participation and hopefully spark more innovation in the game.”

As Cisco levels up its technology every year, treating the men’s and women’s tournaments equally will continue to be at the forefront of what they do.

“This last year, the women’s event looked almost the exact same as the men’s, if not better,” Leong said. “I think it’s just continuing to really push the envelope and ensure that whatever is going to happen at the men’s events with technology, it’s going to happen at the women’s, too.”

Jessica Korda has ranked in the top 30 of golfers on tour for the past eight years. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Cisco’s commitment to the women’s game, from the inception of the partnership to now, has not gone unnoticed by those on the LPGA Tour.

“It has been so great to be a part of Team Cisco alongside so many other talented golfers,” Jessica Korda said. “Cisco’s commitment to using their technology to grow the game and inspire a new generation of golf fans and players is something that is really important to me as well, and I look forward to continuing to build on that goal together in the future.”

“It’s really so meaningful when companies like Cisco step up in such a big way to support our sport,” Kang said. “You see a lot of brands that spend money on the men’s side, but Cisco makes it a priority to support the LPGA Tour.

“Support like that is really important to us as players, and I truly believe that it helps to inspire even more participation in the sport from the next generation of female golfers.”

Editor’s note: Cisco is a sponsor of Just Women’s Sports.

Serena Williams is ‘super interested’ in owning a WNBA team

Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 conference in San Jose, California
The tennis icon is all in on women's sports — and the WNBA is right on her heels. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage via Getty Images)

Could Serena Williams co-own a WNBA team in the near future? 

Speaking with CNN on Monday, Williams expressed her interest in that potential — as well as the mounting enthusiasm for women’s sports around the world. 

"I think women’s sport is having a moment that it should have always had," Williams said. "I feel like tennis has had its moment. It’s international, and it’s huge, and it’s always gonna be there.

"Now it’s time to lift up other sports — women’s soccer, women’s basketball — there’s so many other sports that women do so great, let’s put it on that platform. Women’s basketball is getting there, and it’s arrived."

When asked if she had any interest in adding a WNBA team to her roster of ownership stakes, the tennis great welcomed the idea. "I absolutely would be," Williams said. "With the right market, I would definitely be super interested in that."

"There is no risk — women’s sport is exciting," Williams added, citing the 2024 NCAA women's tournament's record-breaking viewership as evidence. "People are realizing that it is exciting to watch, so it's an overly safe bet."

Williams may not need to wait long to act on that bet. On Monday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that she is "pretty confident" the league will expand to 16 teams — up from its current 12 — by 2028. 

The goal, she said, is to reach 14 by 2026. Oakland's Golden State is already on track to launch the league's 13th team in 2025. The move will mark the WNBA's first new franchise since the Atlanta Dream debuted in 2008.

"It's complex because you need the arena and practice facility and player housing and all the things," Engelbert said at a press conference before Monday's WNBA draft. "You need committed long-term ownership groups, and so the nice thing is we're getting a lot of calls."

Engelbert went on to name a few of the cities behind those calls, saying that the league continues to engage in discussions with Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland, Denver, and Nashville, as well as South Florida.

"These can either take a very long time to negotiate or it can happen pretty quickly if you find the right ownership group with the right arena situation," Engelbert added.

The Commissioner's 16 team goal is not only good news for WNBA fans, it's great news for current and future WNBA players. At 12 teams with just 12 roster spots each, the league is held to a total of 144 players for any given season. An abundance of fresh talent coming up through the NCAA ranks has put pressure on the organization to make room for more worthy competitors, and four additional teams might be just the ticket.

Hellen Obiri claims back-to-back Boston Marathon wins

Hellen Obiri, winner of the women's division of the Boston Marathon, poses with the Boston Marathon trophy
Hellen Obiri, winner of the 2024 Boston Marathon's women's division, poses with her trophy. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Kenyan runner Hellen Obiri won the 128th Boston Marathon on Monday, becoming the first woman to claim back-to-back titles since 2005.

She clocked a total time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 37 seconds in a women's division that race organizers described as "historically fast."

"Defending the title was not easy," Obiri said. "Since Boston started, it's only six women [that have repeated]. If you want to be one of them, you have to work extra hard. And I'm so happy because I'm now one of them — I'm now in the history books."

A two-time Olympic silver medalist and two-time 5000m world champion, Obiri is a clear favorite in this summer’s Paris Olympics.

“Last year I was pretty familiar to the marathon, but this year my training was perfect — we trusted everything we were doing,” Obiri said. “When we won last year, of course I was saying I’m going to win this one. Winning is like love. It’s something precious to me.”

Though, she wasn’t without a challenge. Fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi finished a mere eight seconds behind Obiri. Edna Kiplagat, who won the 2017 Boston Marathon, completed the podium sweep for Kenya with a third place finish.

Emma Bates, the race's top American finisher, came in 12th.

Obiri wasn't alone in making Boston Marathon history this year. The repeat champ walked away with $150,000 in total prize money allocated from a purse that topped $1 million for the first time ever. 

College rivals Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso drafted to the Chicago Sky

Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso competing at the NCAA SEC Conference Tournament Championship
Once rivals, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso are now teammates. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Sky made a splash in Monday night’s WNBA draft, taking Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese in the first round. 

South Carolina’s Cardoso, who was the 2024 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, went third to the Sky. The day before, the team had swapped picks with the Minnesota Lynx to land the No. 7 pick as well, which they used on Reese, the 2023 Final Four MOP.

Now, the two will team up in Chicago after battling each other in both college and high school

"She’s a great player, and I’m a great player. Nobody's going to get no rebounds on us," Cardoso joked afterwards, while Reese expressed excitement about playing under new Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.

"Being able to be a Black woman and as a head coach, and everything she's done at the NBA level, I just knew everything they were bringing to the table," Reese said of the Sky. "Player development is something that I was looking for and they looked for in me. I'm super excited for this move."

Former NBA star and Chicago Sky co-owner Dwayne Wade welcomed the pair to Chicago.

“The foundation is set,” he wrote.

The Sky have entered re-building mode after winning a WNBA title in 2021. This offseason, they traded franchise cornerstone Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury for a package that included the No. 3 picked used on Cardoso.

Now, Cardoso and Reese will be looking to jump-start the team's return to contention.

Watch: Iowa star Kate Martin’s draft moment goes viral

Kate Martin poses with Cathy Engelbert after being drafted by the Las Vegas Aces during the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York
2nd-round pick Kate Martin poses with Cathy Engelbert Commissioner of the WNBA at the 2024 draft. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa captain Kate Martin was in the audience during Monday night’s draft when she was selected 18th overall by the Las Vegas Aces. 

The moment quickly went viral, as Martin was in the crowd to support superstar teammate Caitlin Clark going No. 1 overall, and was not one of the 14 players invited to the draft.

"To be honest, I don't think I'd have the type of career if I don't have a teammate like Kate," Clark said about Martin leading up to the 2024 national championship game. "She's been one that has had my back. She holds me accountable. I hold her accountable. But I think at the same time, me and Kate are wired so similarly that we get each other on a different level."

Martin being drafted marks the first time that Iowa has had two players selected in the same WNBA draft since 1998.

“She's one of the best leaders I've been around," Clark said. "She wants the best for her teammates. She's one of the most selfless people."

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said Monday that she is “so proud” of her player, “because her dreams came true.”

"She has been such a big part of our program over the last six years,” she said. “Her efforts did not go unnoticed by her peers. I wish Kate all the success with this next step.”

Martin said afterward that she’s “excited for the opportunity” and to showcase her “really good” work ethic. Helping Iowa to back-to-back NCAA title games, Martin finished her college career with 1,299 points, 756 rebounds and 473 assists.

“There are a lot of emotions right now,” Martin said in an interview on ESPN. “I’m really happy to be here. I was here to support Caitlin, but I was hoping to hear my name called. All I wanted was an opportunity and I got it. I’m really excited.”

While Martin was watching from the crowd, her family was watching from back home.

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