Women’s Soccer Gaining Popularity in US

With so much attention focused on the World Cup in Russia, the popularity of women’s soccer in the United States is expected to grow as the sport attracts new fans and more parents encourage their daughters to play the sport. The U.S. women’s national soccer team has already won three Women’s World Cup titles – a record that will only increase the sport’s appeal for young girls. Genia Dulot has more from Los Angeles, California.

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Pacquiao Wins 60th Career Bout With 7th-Round Knockout

Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory with a seventh-round knockout Sunday of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years.

Pacquiao said he worked hard but was surprised by the swift win in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn, and his victory could extend a boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” Matthysse said. He hailed Pacquiao as a “great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

“I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more,” Duterte said.

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Kerber Beats Williams in Wimbledon Final

Angelique Kerber was so steady, so patient, so accurate throughout the Wimbledon final, she never really gave Serena Williams much of a chance.

Kerber won her first championship at the All England Club and third major overall by playing cleanly and picking her spots for big shots, beating Williams 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday.

“I knew that I had to play my best tennis against a champion like Serena,” said Kerber, the first German woman to win Wimbledon since Steffi Graff in 1996.

Kerber made only five unforced errors the entire match, 19 fewer than Williams. Perhaps more impressive was that she broke Williams in four of nine service games.

The 30-year-old German lost to Williams in the 2016 Wimbledon final. She beat Williams in the Australian Open final that year, then won that year’s U.S. Open to briefly replace her at No. 1 in the rankings.

Kerber addressed Williams during the on-court interviews, saying: “You’re such an inspiration for everybody, for all of us. I’m sure you will have your next Grand Slam title soon. I’m really, really sure.”

‘I can compete’

Williams was indeed ready to look ahead.

“I didn’t know a couple of months ago where I was, where I would be, how I would do, how I would be able to come back. It was such a long way to see light at the end of the road, kind of,” said Williams, who gave birth to a daughter last September, then dealt with complications involving blood clots.

“So I think these two weeks have really showed me that, OK, I can compete. Obviously I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam,” the 36-year-old American said. “I can, you know, come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams.”

There was a time, not all that long ago, that Williams was ranked No. 1 for years at a time. She won four major tournaments in a row and came close to a calendar-year Grand Slam. She was the favorite every time she entered a tournament.

Williams appeared to be regaining that form this fortnight. Barring some sort of setback in the next six weeks, she will head into the U.S. Open at the end of August as the player to beat.

If Williams does earn one more, it’ll tie her with Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24. As it is, Williams has the mark for the most majors in the professional era; she moved one ahead of Graf by winning the 2017 Australian Open.

She was pregnant at the time. It would be her last tournament for more than a year, in part because of a series of medical procedures that followed a difficult childbirth. As she put it this week: “I lost count after, like, four surgeries.”

Williams didn’t enter another major until this May, at the French Open, where she won the three matches she played before withdrawing with a chest muscle injury. After a little more time off, she played the fourth tournament of her comeback at Wimbledon.

“I just like to tell all the moms, like, I had such a long struggle to come back, and it was really difficult,” Williams said. “Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it.”

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Nancy Sinatra Sr., First Wife of Frank Sinatra, Dies at 101

Nancy Sinatra Sr., the childhood sweetheart of Frank Sinatra who became the first of his four wives and the mother of his three children, has died. She was 101.

Her daughter, Nancy Sinatra Jr., tweeted that her mother died Friday and a posting on her web page said she died at 6:02 p.m. but didn’t indicate where she died.

“She was a blessing and the light of my life,” her daughter said.

Attempts to reach representatives for Sinatra Jr. late Friday were unsuccessful.

Childhood sweethearts

Nancy and Frank Sinatra had been dating as teenagers and married at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church in Jersey City, New Jersey, Feb. 4, 1939, just as Frank’s singing career was about to take off. Three years before marrying the former Nancy Barbato, he had landed a 15-minute radio show on local station WAAT.

During the marriage’s early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. For a time she was employed as a secretary while her husband worked as a singing waiter.

After Sinatra became a pop-music sensation in the 1940s, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where the singer would also become a movie star, raconteur, man about town and notorious womanizer.

That latter accomplishment led Sinatra to leave him after an affair with actress Ava Gardner became public knowledge. Weeks after the pair’s divorce became final in 1951, Sinatra’s ex-husband married Gardner, while Sinatra went on to raise the couple’s three children: Nancy, Frank Jr. and Tina.

After the gossip over the divorce and Gardner marriage died down, Nancy Sinatra devoted herself to family and numerous celebrity friends, largely withdrawing from the spotlight. She not only outlived her husband, who died in 1998, but her son, who died in 2016.

She is credited, under the name Nancy Barbato, on the Internet Movie Database with two TV and film appearances, in her daughter Nancy’s 1975 concert film, “Nancy and Lee in Las Vegas,” and in 1974 on her friend Dinah Shore’s talk show.

Respect and affection

In later years she would become known as Nancy Sr., especially after daughter Nancy became a 1960s singing star in her own right with “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and other hit songs.

She also remained friendly with her ex-husband, the latter being said to have put in requests over the years for pasta and other Italian food dishes she was known to be an expert at preparing. She never remarried.

“There is no bitterness, only great respect and affection between Sinatra and his first wife,” Gay Talese wrote in 1966, “and he has long been welcome in her home and has even been known to wander in at odd hours, stoke the fire, lie on the sofa, and fall asleep.”

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Pakistan: World’s Leading Manufacturer of Soccer Balls

Pakistan is not a soccer powerhouse. But there’s a strong link between the country and the sport. A lot of the credit goes to the city of Sialkot where about 40 percent of the world’s soccer balls are produced. Many wonder how a small city in northeastern Pakistan can compete on the global stage in manufacturing high quality soccer balls. VOA’s Saman Khan visited several factories in Sialkot to learn more. Bezhan Hamdard narrates.

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Oklahoma Town Doubles in Population for Woody Guthrie Fest

Woody Guthrie’s Oklahoma hometown has doubled in population as thousands gather for a music festival in honor of the “This Land Is Your Land” singer.

The Journal Record reports that the town of Okemah jumps from about 3,000 to 6,000 people during the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.

Performers this year include Grammy winner Jason Mraz, Oklahoma’s Turnpike Troubadours, and Annie Guthrie, daughter of Arlo Guthrie and the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie.

Festival organizer Kay Thompson says it brings music fans from around the world to Okemah, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City. Thompson says some come from as far away as Scotland and Australia.

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have cited Woody Guthrie as an influence.

This is the festival’s 21st year. It continues through July 15, 2018.

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Acclaimed "Downton Abbey" TV Series to Be Turned Into a Movie

A movie is to be made of “Downton Abbey,” the award-winning television period drama about a British household in the early 20th century, and the original stars will reunite for the project.

Julian Fellowes, who created the show, has written the screenplay and will also produce the movie, production and distribution company Focus Features said on Friday.

Brian Percival, who directed the first and several other episodes, will reprise the role for the film, and production will start later this summer.

“When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production,” producer Gareth Neame said in a statement.

“Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen.”

The show, which first aired in 2011 and went on for six seasons gaining a huge following in Britain and the United States, followed the Crawley family in their huge country home as well as the lives of their servants.

It went on to win several Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy awards and there has long been speculation that it would be turned into a film.

Fans as well as cast members took to Twitter to express their delight at the news.

“Delighted to announce we’re getting the band back together!” actress Joanne Froggatt wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of her with fellow cast members Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith.

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Jailed Ukrainian Filmmaker’s Mother Asks Putin to Pardon Him

The mother of a jailed Ukrainian filmmaker who has been refusing food for nearly two months asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to pardon him.

Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.

In a letter written on Sentsov’s 42nd birthday, Lyudmila Sentsova pleaded with Putin to show mercy and pardon her son. The letter was published by the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station Friday.

“I will not trying to convince you of Oleg’s innocence, although I myself believe it. I will simply say that he didn’t kill anyone,” Sentsova wrote. “He has already spent four years in jail. His children are waiting for him.”

She exhorted Putin “not to ruin his life and the life of his loved ones.”

Sentsov has lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) and is very frail, according to his lawyer. He is receiving vitamins and other nutrients through an intravenous line.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin would consider the request. But Peskov added that he wasn’t sure whether pardoning Sentsov was even legally possible since under Russian law, the president can only pardon a convict if he or she personally asks. Sentsov has refused to do that.

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