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King of Clay: Nadal Wins 12th French Open Title

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal has won his record extending 12th French Open title, defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria in fours sets Sunday 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

It is the second straight year Nadal has defeated Thiem for the championship on the clay courts at Roland Garros. With the win, Nadal becomes the first player in tennis history to win 12 titles at a single Grand Slam event. In total, the Spaniard now has 18 Grand Slam title wins, two behind all-time leader Roger Federer.

In Sunday’s match, Nadal and Thiem split the first two sets that featured hard hitting and long rallies. But Nadal went on to dominate the next two on his way to victory.

Nadal said “It’s a dream to win again, an incredible moment.” He also paid tribute to his opponent.

“I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry as he deserves to win it as well,” Nadal said after the match.

The 25- year old Theim said he will try again next year and he praised Nadal for being an “amazing champion.”

“To win 12 times, it’s unreal” Theim said.

The 33 year old Nadal, seeded number two, extended his record at the French Open to 93 wins and just two losses.

In the Women’s draw Saturday, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty defeated Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. It was Barty’s first Grand Slam title.

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Sir Winston Comes From Behind to Win Belmont Stakes

Sir Winston held off the favorites with a bold move from the inside rail Saturday to capture the 151st Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. 

 

Sir Winston, ridden by Joel Rosario, at one point was pinched on the rail but then made a wide move to the outside followed by a storming charge to the finish line. The winning time at Belmont Park was 2 minutes, 28.30 seconds. 

 

Sir Winston, a 10-1 long shot, won for the third time in the last 10 starts, beating out runner-up and pre-race favorite Tactitus and third-place Joevia. 

 

The Belmont Stakes came five weeks after this year’s controversial Kentucky Derby which was won by Country House after Maximum Security became the first horse in history to be disqualified from the iconic American race. 

 

Country House did not race on Saturday. 

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Australian Barty Wins 1st Major at French Open

Ash Barty knew she needed a break from tennis, from the pressure and expectations, from the week-in, week-out grind. So she stepped away in 2014 and wound up trying her hand at cricket, joining a professional team at home in Australia.

After almost two years away, Barty was pulled back to the tour. Good choice. Now she’s a Grand Slam champion.

Taking control right from the start of the French Open final and never really letting go, the No. 8-seeded Barty capped a quick-as-can-be rise in her return to the sport by beating unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-3, Saturday for her first major championship.

“I never closed any doors, saying, ‘I’m never playing tennis again.’ For me, I needed time to step away, to live a normal life, because this tennis life certainly isn’t normal. I think I needed time to grow as a person, to mature,” Barty said.

And as for why she came back three years ago?

I missed the competition. I missed the one-on-one battle, the ebbs and the flows, the emotions you get from winning and losing matches,'' said Barty, who will jump to a career-best No. 2 in the rankings Monday behind Naomi Osaka.They are so unique and you can only get them when you’re playing and when you put yourself out on the line and when you become vulnerable and try and do things that no one thinks of.”

That last part is an apt description of how she approaches each point, looking for just the right angle or speed, understanding where an opponent might be most vulnerable at any given moment. After using her slice backhand, topspin forehand and kick serve to do just that to Vondrousova, she called it a “kind of ‘Ash Barty brand’ of tennis.”

Vondrousova’s take

“She’s mixing things up. And she has a huge serve,” Vondrousova said. “So it’s all, like, very tough to play against.”

Barty raced to a 4-0 lead and then held on, showing that she learned her lesson after blowing a 5-0 edge in the opening set of her quarterfinal victory a day earlier against another unseeded teenager, 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.

“An absolute roller-coaster,” Barty called it.

Her coach, Craig Tyzzer, said the two of them huddled with Ben Crowe, who helps Barty with the mental side of things, and they had a “really good discussion about it” to make sure she’d avoid that sort of trouble in the final.

Neither Barty, 23, nor Vondrousova had ever played in a Grand Slam final before. Neither had even been in a major semifinal until this week, either. But it was only Vondrousova who seemed jittery at the outset; she was playing at Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time.

Barty wound up with a 27-10 edge in winners to become the first Australian to win the trophy at Roland Garros since Margaret Court in 1973.

“I played the perfect match today,” Barty said. 

The women’s final started about 1½ hours later than scheduled because it followed the resumption of Dominic Thiem’s 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Novak Djokovic in the men’s semifinals, a match suspended Friday evening because of rain. 

Thiem will face 11-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s final.  

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Olivia Colman Gets Royal Honor Ahead of Debut in ‘The Crown’

Academy Award-winning actress Olivia Colman was honored Friday by Queen Elizabeth II — the monarch she is about to play on television in “The Crown.”

Colman was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in the annual Queen’s Birthday Honors list.

The performer won a best-actress Oscar this year for playing 18th-century monarch Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” She plays the current queen in the third season of Netflix’s royal drama “The Crown,” which is currently in production.

Colman said she was “totally thrilled, delighted and humbled” by the honor.

Honors are awarded twice a year, at New Year and to mark the monarch’s official birthday in June, and reward hundreds of people for services to their community or national life. Most go to people who are not in the limelight, but there is also a sprinkling of famous faces.

Recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public, with the awards bestowed by the queen and other senior royals during Buckingham Palace ceremonies.

The list included a knighthood for Simon Russell Beale, one of Britain’s finest stage actors, who can now call himself Sir Simon.

A knighthood was also bestowed on Boyd Tunnock, inventor of the Tunnock’s Teacake, a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat.

“When you get to my age, very few things surprise you but this certainly did and I am deeply honored and grateful to Her Majesty the queen,” said Tunnock, whose family firm has been making sweets in Scotland since the 19th century.

Artist Rachel Whiteread, who won the Turner Prize in 1993 for her concrete cast of the inside of a condemned house, became a dame, the female equivalent of a knight.

Novelist Joanna Trollope and Lee Child, writer of the Jack Reacher thrillers, were made CBEs.

Feargal Sharkey, former lead singer of The Undertones — best known for punk classic “Teenage Kicks” — was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE. So were singer-songwriter Elvis Costello and actress Cush Jumbo, a star of TV legal series “The Good Fight.”

British-Sri Lankan rapper MIA, whose full name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE.

In descending order, the main honors are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and MBE. Knights are addressed as “sir” or “dame,” followed by their name. Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names.

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Deaths at Tracks Put Horse Racing Under Scrutiny

Saturday is the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes in New York, a competition between the country’s best 3-year-old thoroughbreds, and the last of the three races in the Triple Crown.

Organizers of Saturday’s race are hoping to avoid the controversy that dogged this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the first two races in the series.

Judges disqualified the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security, for straying into the path of another horse, a violation of the rules. Maximum Security’s owner is suing, contending the process to disqualify his horse was “bizarre and unconstitutional.”

Two weeks later at the Preakness, the jockey aboard Bodexpress fell off his mount when the starting gate opened.

The jockey was unhurt as Bodexpress ran with the other horses, riderless, avoiding efforts to corral him. He crossed the finish line 12th out of 13 horses and continued to jog around the track after the race was over.

The mishaps in this year’s Triple Crown are not the only reasons the sports world is taking a closer look at thoroughbred racing.

Twenty-seven horses at Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles have died since December, prompting California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to demand the track be shut down until investigators figure out what led to the animals’ deaths.

Animal rights groups are wondering if “The Sport of Kings” has a future in the United States.

Proposed legislation

A bill currently before the U.S. House of Representatives, the Horseracing Integrity Act, would standardize safety rules for horses and jockeys across the industry. Most major U.S. sports have just one regulating body, but with horse racing, there are 38 jurisdictions, each with its own regulations. Those entities oversee about 100 racetracks around the country.

“This is an industry that routinely gives horses five and six injections of painkillers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, sedatives every week just to calm them down and rev them up to race on a track,” Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told VOA. “We’ve really worked hard to try to bring improvements that will mean no horses are suffering and dying.”

Santa Anita has already banned trainers from giving horses medication on race days. Jockeys are also forbidden to whip horses.

​Why are horses dying?

Experts believe one possible cause for the deaths is Santa Anita’s poor track surface, made tenuous because of heavy rain and mud. Thoroughbred horses have slender legs and small feet, with muscles and bones that must support tremendous weight. A slight misstep can cause a horse to break a leg, a severe injury that could lead to euthanasia.

Other horses have simply dropped dead from heart attacks.

The tragedy extends beyond Santa Anita. An industry study found that an average of 10 horses a week died at U.S. racetracks in 2018.

“The public has evolved on the issue of using animals for entertainment, and they’re not going to stand for the kinds of deaths that we have seen at Santa Anita. For the first time, the racing industry is paying attention to what needs to be done,” Guillermo said.

Sport losing fans

The negative publicity surrounding thoroughbred racing has executives worried that the public, especially young people, are not embracing a sport known for its primarily middle-aged, white male fan base.

Thoroughbred racing is competing for the entertainment dollar, and the industry is trying to keep up.

Joe Harper is president of Del Mar, the legendary San Diego track founded in 1937 by entertainer Bing Crosby.

“You’re here for a party, you’re not just here for the races,” Harper told VOA.

Del Mar’s summer season includes concerts, wine tastings, beer festivals, chili cook-offs and family fun days.

Harper said he would like to see other tracks, particularly those troubled with poor attendance and crumbling infrastructure, adopt Del Mar’s model.

“You really have to look at this beyond your product. We marketed our venue. Opening Day in Del Mar is the biggest social event in San Diego every year, and the media coverage is phenomenal. I want to be in the entertainment business, not just the racing business,” Harper said.

Harper disagrees with PETA and others who classify racing as a cruel sport.

“We’re in this game because we love horses. There’s no better care given to any animal than a race horse,” he said.

Guillermo called that an “odd statement” and predicted horse racing becoming extinct like attractions such as animal circuses.

“This is an industry that has traditionally cast off thousands of thoroughbreds a year to auction and to slaughter. That industry has a lot to explain,” she said.

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Latin Lovers Tune In: Vatican Broadcasts News in Language of Ancient Rome

Friends, Romans and Latin lovers — lend the Vatican your ears. Vatican Radio is starting its first regular news bulletin in the language of Caesar and Cicero.

Called “Hebdomada Papae, Notitiae Vaticanae latine reddiate” (“The pope’s week, Vatican news in the Latin language”), it is the latest in a series of initiatives to broaden use of Latin, once a staple of Western European education and the language of all Roman Catholic services.

This month, Hebdomada Aenigmatum, a new book of crossword puzzles in Latin and ancient Greek, said to be the first with no help or definitions in modern languages, hit book stores in Italy.

The weekly Vatican Radio broadcast, which starts Saturday, will run for five minutes and be followed by a half-hour show with Latin conversation — and tips in Italian on using the language of ancient Rome in a modern setting.

“We wanted the official language of the Church to be experienced in news just as it is in the daily broadcast of a Mass in Latin,” said Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director for Vatican communications.

The program will be produced by the radio’s news team and the Vatican department that translates and writes official documents in Latin.

Growing interest

Luca Desiata, an Italian businessman who published the book of crosswords in Latin, said the internet has helped revive interest in the language just as more and more schools around the world stopped teaching it.

“We now have Wikipedia in Latin (“Vicipaedia Latina”), about 40 Latin Facebook groups around the world — and the pope’s Twitter account in Latin is followed by nearly a million people,” he told Reuters. “Not bad for a dead language.”

Desiata came up with the idea for the crossword book after publishing a weekly online Latin puzzle magazine for five years that pulled in 10,000 subscribers.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI started the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies to promote the use of Latin in the Church and beyond.

Many attempts have been made to revive Latin. Some have tried to bring it up to date by introducing new words for things that did not exist at the time of the Roman Empire — not all of them very functional.

Years ago, Father Carlo Egger, a top Vatican Latinist, came up with “machina linteorum lavatoria” for washing machine; “escariorum lavator” for dishwasher; “autocinetorum lavatrix” for carwash — and “sphaeriludium electricum numismate actum” for pinball machine.

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Stitching Stories of Sexual Violence and Survival

Thousands of stories told by sexual assault survivors are stitched together in hundreds of quilts. Together, they form The Monument Quilt, organized by the activist collective FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. In the past five years, workshops around the U.S. encouraged survivors to speak up, share their experiences, in a square of fabric. Recently, as Faiza Elmasry tells us, The Monument Quilt arrived at the National Mall in Washington to show solidarity and seek healing. Faith Lapidus narrates.

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Harlem Remembers ‘Queen Of Swing’ Norma Miller

One of the first Lindy Hoppers in America, Norma Miller dazzled the country with this fast-paced, acrobatic dance in the 1930s and 1940s. A multitude of international tours and thousands of students and fans later, America fell in love with Lindy Hop and Miller became known as the Queen of Swing. Miller died in May at 99 in Florida, but her dance legacy continues. For VOA, Ksenia Turkova attended a farewell ceremony in New York and has more on Miller’s life and legacy. Anna Rice narrates.

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