“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
Here are Sophia’s unabridged thoughts.
“I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with the strongest woman that I know, my mother.
“She was an athlete herself, she was a very good student, and she has just shown so much strength over the last years.
“I think it was very important for her to show me the strength that she has, because she never wanted anyone to be able take advantage of me, and never wanted anyone to crush my dreams.
“She said ‘I want to show you guys as many sports as possible, I don’t want to decide anything for you, I want to give you the opportunity’, and obviously I was very thankful for that because she took us everywhere when we were little.
“Honestly, looking back, I have no idea how she did it. My mom was incredible, it felt like she was Superwoman. She drove an hour there, an hour back, then an hour over here, and she co-ordinated everything so it was pretty awesome.”
“And I think she did an amazing job at that, because even when it wasn’t looking good, and I had some rough years recently, she was the one to tell me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and you can do it, and I’m always proud of you no matter what you do.
“And that’s exactly how I want to raise my kids one day. I see it with my nieces, that’s how I want them to grow up, and know that they’re the best in whatever they do. I’m proud of them just like my mum is of me.”
Role Models in Sport
“I think it’s really important to have female role models. I was so lucky to grow up in an era where Annika Sorenstam was the greatest of all time and she still is, and it was so cool to see her tee it up (at Gainbridge LPGA), because she’s such a role model.
“I’m so excited to see her back here, and I just think it’s great because you grow up in a world where you’re a little kid, you play with boys and girls equally, you’re on a playground with boys and girls and it seems like there’s no difference. Boys don’t see the girls as weaker because they’re only six or seven years old, and as long as you can play with them, if you’re good enough, it doesn’t really matter to them.
“I think at some point that changes, and I wish that wouldn’t change. I was lucky to have two older brothers who told me how good I am at something, and how proud they are that I can keep up with them, and I think every girl should have that, because the sky’s the limit.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of physical strength you have, you can be the best at anything, and I think that’s so important for everyone to keep telling girls to make sure that there’s no one in their young lives that tells them they’ll never be as good as some guy doing something, because that’s not what we’re comparing ourselves to. We’re just trying to be the best at what we do, and I think that’s so important for girls to know that from a very young age.”
International Women's Day
“I think International Women’s Day is just so important because, when women celebrate other women, and when we get the whole world to celebrate us, it gives us a boost for what we're trying to accomplish.
“Every girl, every woman out there has a lot of strength, and they’re very good and very capable at doing something and I think that it’s important to support that. I think it’s just important to keep pushing each other to get better.
“There’s no limit. You know, I think a lot of times we like to compare ourselves to boys and to guys out in the sports and the working world, but I think that’s not what we should be doing. I feel like we have so much strength to do our own thing and to be the greatest at what we do, and that’s what we have to keep doing.
Women in Golf
“To be a woman in golf has become something very special, I think our sport on the female side has evolved so much and has become extremely competitive. It is very hard to make it on Tour nowadays, or just compete with so many incredible girls out there, so you know it is becoming greater and greater.
“I am so happy for every girl that is choosing to play golf or any other sport nowadays, because I think it’s going to be very special down the road, and the future holds so much for all these girls coming into sport.
You can purchase tickets for the AIG Women's Open here, where Popov will be hoping to defend her title.