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Coco Gauff subdues Aryna Sabalenka to win the U.S. Open for her first Grand Slam title

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NEW YORK — Coco Gauff won her first major title on Saturday at the US Open with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in front of an adoring crowd under the roof on a stormy day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

After the match, the 19-year-old American fell to the ground and lay on her back on the court before sobbing in celebration. After hugging Sabalenka, Gauff ran up the stairs to tearfully hug her parents and then the rest of her team.

Moments later, Gauff told the star-studded crowd, which included Kevin Durant, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Spike Lee, Mindy Kaling and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, that she still hadn’t fully processed the victory.

“Oh my goodness, it means so much to me,” Gauff told ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez. “I feel like I’m a little bit in shock in this moment. That [2022] French Open loss was a heartbreak for me. But I realized God put you through tribulations and trials and that makes this moment even sweeter than I could have imagined.”

After the match, several high-profile celebrities, including former President Barack ObamaFirst Lady Michelle Obama and President Joe Biden, sent her congratulatory messages over social media.

Gauff is the youngest American to win the US Open since Serena Williams in 1999 and the first American player to win a major title since Sofia Kenin at the Australian Open in 2020. Gauff also became the first woman to win the title in New York after dropping the first set in three matches during her title run since Williams, also in 1999.

When speaking to the media after the match, Gauff said it was an honor to have her name listed on the same trophy as Williams and her sister Venus, who won the title a combined eight times.

“I mean, they’re the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest,” Gauff said. “They have allowed me to believe in this dream. Growing up, there weren’t too many Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.

“Obviously more came because of their legacy, so it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.”

Gauff, the tournament’s No. 6 seed, was broken in the first game of the match and struggled to find any rhythm in the nervy 40-minute opening set. Since the first set winner had won 27 of the previous 28 US Open women’s finals, history was not on her side. But she took control in the second set, breaking Sabalenka in the fourth game and recording an 81% win percentage on first serve. Her confidence grew with every point, and her “Come on!” screams and fist pumps became increasingly more animated.

In the deciding set, it was all Gauff. She jumped to a 4-0 lead and withheld Sabalenka’s last-ditch efforts and a medical timeout at 4-1. After two hours and six minutes, Gauff was the US Open champion.

“You played unbelievable,” Sabalenka said to Gauff during the on-court trophy ceremony. “Congrats to you and your team, you guys deserve this title. Many more to come, I’m pretty sure.”

Despite still being a teenager, Gauff has been one of the sport’s most recognizable stars since she burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2019 and reached the fourth round as a 15-year-old qualifier. Since then, she’s won five WTA titles and reached the final at the 2022 French Open.

With several high-profile sponsorship deals and a growing presence on social media, Gauff has remained under the spotlight and the expectations for her career have continued to increase. On Saturday, Gauff said the pressure has been overwhelming at times, and she felt she was expected to immediately win a major title after her run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019.

“It’s been difficult,” she said. “I mean, it’s been a long journey to this point. I wasn’t a fully developed player, and I still think I have a lot of development to go. At that moment, I think people were putting a lot of pressure on me to win. I felt that at 15 I had to win a Slam at 15.

“I think that was, you know, not the mistake, because everything led to this moment so there were no mistakes, but that was a little bit of the pressure that I was feeling. Now I just realize that I just need to go out there and try my best.”

After losing in the first round at Wimbledon in July, Gauff brought in a new team, including coach Pere Riba and consultant Brad Gilbert. Since then, she’s won the titles in Washington D.C., and Cincinnati and is 18-1 during the current hard-court swing. She defeated two Grand Slam champions en route to the final, as well as 2023 French Open runner-up Karolina Muchova in the semifinals.

Gauff told the crowd she had been motivated by those who had doubted her.

“I want to say honestly thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff said. “A month ago, I won a 500 title and people said, I would stop at that. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now.

“I’ve tried my best to carry this with grace and I’ve been doing my best. So honestly, to those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it. And now I’m really burning so bright right now.”

Gauff later told reporters she had been reading comments online from those who didn’t think she was going to win right up until the match.

In addition to earning $3 million for the victory — something she thanked Billie Jean King for fighting for as she received it — Gauff will improve to a career-high ranking of No. 3 on Monday. Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, will take over the No. 1 ranking for the first time despite the loss.

Gauff will also return to the top spot in the doubles ranking, alongside partner Jessica Pegula. The pair reached the quarterfinals at the US Open.

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Senator Cory Booker Leads a Congressional Delegation to Nigeria

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Photo: Senator Cory Booker (In the back) and a Diplomat from the US Department of State, joins with members of the Academy for Women Alumnae Association including Mercy Ogori of Kokomi Africa and Adebisi Odeleye of Moore Organics.

Senator Cory also met women entrepreneurs from the Academy for Women Alumnae Association

Last week, US Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey led a congressional delegation to Nigeria, which included House of Representatives members Sara Jacobs and Barbara Lee from California. The purpose of the visit was to discuss a partnership on sustainable development. During the talks, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu expressed his administration’s dedication to strengthening democracy through upholding the rule of law and ensuring good governance, justice, and fairness for all citizens. Senator Booker emphasized the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and commitment to peace and good governance that bind Nigeria and the United States as partners.

The delegation also met with women entrepreneurs from the Academy for Women Alumnae Association, who had participated in US-sponsored exchange programs. Led by Adebisi Odeleye of Moore Organics, the businesswomen shared their experiences and discussed their entrepreneurial endeavors. Other Academy members were Mandela Washington Fellow, Nkem Okocha of Mama Moni, Inemesit Dike of LegalX, and Mercy Ogori of Kokomi.

The partnership between the United States and Nigeria has lasted over six decades, focusing on addressing security challenges, enhancing health security, and responding to global health crises. Despite obstacles like corruption, poverty, and insecurity, the US remains dedicated to supporting Nigerian institutions and promoting free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections.

During the visit to the State House, Senator Booker reiterated the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and commitment to peace and good governance that unite Nigeria and the United States as partners.

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Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” debuts in Houston

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In two weeks, citizens from across the city of Houston will spring into the new season with the official launching of a transformational faith-based praise, worship, and healing experience that guarantees to bring full restoration, excitement, and joy into the lives of many!

Pastors Dr. Andy Osakwe and Ndidi Osakwe (who recently arrived in the city to meet with fellow faith-based leaders) will host the inaugural Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” (Presented by AOMI and Mission USA) on Sunday, April 7th at The Power Center’s ‘Community Collective for Houston’ (12401 South Post Oak). The on-site event will be located inside the Jesse H. Jones Ballroom and event doors will open promptly at 5 PM.

Join pastors Dr. Andy Osakwe and Ndidi Oaskwe as they host this transformative healing encounter infused with soul-lifting worship from gospel music’s finest, led by international gospel star recording artist Pastor Nathaniel Bassey, Lakewood Church worship leader, Pastor Fiona Mellett, popular Houston-based worship leader and Pastor Dr. Ronke Adekosan, and recording artist, social media faith influencer Minister Melissa Bethea.

The Sunday evening celebration will feature a variety of well-known and emerging faith leaders and musical performances that will usher the audiences through prayer declarations, reading of scripture, praise and worship sessions, laying of hands, deliverance, and testimonials. Over fifty faith-based practitioners worldwide will be present to help orchestrate an experience that will deeply transform the lives of many from within. The event will present an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life and faith to join together in an environment that will spread love, encouragement, and support for all of mankind. Complimentary child care is available for children between the ages of 4 and 10.

Additionally, the Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” will serve as an official launch pad and countdown for Pastors Andy and Ndidi’s official Houston church and ministry planting in continuation of their successful global ministry work. It is the hope and desire of the pastors to support communities to overcome adversities faced in life regularly. Dr. Andy Osakwe is the founder and overseer of the Summit Bible Church and president of Andrew Osakwe Ministries International.

Ultimately, Dr. Andy’s hope and desire to establish a worship and healing experience speaks for itself. “It will be a phenomenal and highly impactful spiritual encounter that will result in restorative liberty and transformation, which will usher in a new season of fruitfulness and personal advancement for each person in attendance.”

For Press & Media Inquiries (832) 941-8952 evomahcomm@gmail.com

To learn more about the Breakforth Summit 2024 registration and volunteer opportunities, please visit the official event website online at  www.breakforthsummit.com/htx or to keep up with the latest updates from Dr. Andy and Ndidi Osakwe, please visit www.andrewosakweministries.org.

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Fani Willis Judge Rules that Trump Cannot Hire Co-Defendant – He’s Black

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Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the sweeping election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies, is not allowing co-defendant Harrison Floyd to work for Trump’s 2024 campaign.

McAfee denied Floyd’s request to revise his bond agreement in a short order on Thursday. Floyd, who led Black Voices for Trump four years ago, asked the judge last month to loosen the conditions of his bond so that he could work on Trump’s presidential campaign and speak about Trump on social media. McAfee had said, at the time, that he’d be open to modifications so that Floyd could speak about current events.

Floyd, who was indicted on three felony counts stemming from his efforts to help Trump overturn his loss in Georgia, is currently prohibited from having contact with the witnesses and other co-defendants in the case. He was also banned from speaking about them on social media after he posted comments that some witnesses interpreted as threatening.

Floyd, a senior campaign staffer for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was indicted alongside the former president and 17 others for violating Georgia’s racketeering laws in August. Floyd was also charged with influencing a witness and conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements. Trump and Floyd have both pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, Floyd allegedly harassed Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman after she refused to change the results of the county’s vote in the 2020 election.

He was the only one of the 19 defendants in the case to spend time behind bars at the Fulton County Jail. Floyd, unlike the other defendants, turned himself in without a lawyer or bond agreement on August 24. He was not released until August 30 after his lawyer negotiated a $100,000 bond.

Floyd is also facing federal charges for allegedly assaulting two FBI agents who were sent to serve him with a grand jury subpoena.

In November, McAfee had rejected a call from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘ office to revoke Floyd’s bond and jail him, citing recent social media posts that prosecutors said “demonstrate that he poses a significant threat of intimidating witnesses.” McAfee found no intimidation in any of those posts but found a technical violation because Floyd tagged witnesses in the posts. As a result, he banned Floyd from making any posts about those involved in the Georgia case.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month that Floyd attorney Christopher Kachouroff told McAfee his client wanted to resume his role as a paid Trump campaign operative, which would involve communications with the former president or other co-defendants in the case.

Kachouroff also said Floyd wanted to speak about his case over social media to help raise money for his legal defense. Many of the other co-defendants have started crowdsourcing donations for their legal fees.

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