As the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world, Serena Williams is a force to be reckoned with on the court. She built her career on pushing past the pain of injuries, maintaining focus and dominating her fears.

However, it wasn’t so easy for her to overcome her own discomfort about her body, especially growing up in a household with sisters. “I was the youngest, and I was really thick. My sister Venus was so tall and slim, and just being in a society where a lot of people are really thin, it was hard. Especially as an athlete,” the tennis player tells DuJour magazine.

“No athlete has boobs like me. But I had to learn how to embrace myself and embrace my curves. And that’s something a lot of people can relate to,” she says. Williams has faced her fair share of criticism concerning her body in the past, and she says it’s only in recent years that she has come to love what makes her different.

“Well, I wasn’t always confident. I just started feeling comfortable with myself about six or seven years ago. That’s why I tell people that even at 25 or 26, it’s OK if you’re feeling uncomfortable with yourself. I was too. It’s normal. I love who I am, and I encourage other people to love and embrace who they are.”

Part of embracing herself was accepting the drawbacks of fame that come with being Serena Williams. The athlete says she “hardly ever” leaves her hotel room when she’s playing a tournament. “I really don’t like to say no to pictures, so I always end up saying yes. But if you say yes to one, then there’s 20 people asking, and then there’s 30,” she says. But don’t think for one second she would trade her life for a “normal” one.

“I don’t complain about it – it’s just something you have to get used to. It’s such a humbling feeling that anyone would even watch me play. I feel so honored, honestly, by anyone who’s a fan of mine and who appreciates me.”

'Obama to Award Clinton, Winfrey With Freedom Medals'

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and TV mogul Oprah Winfrey will be among 16 people who President Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal is the highest honor the U.S. bestows to citizens and this year’s recipients will be individuals who have contributed to American cultural, security and public interests.

“This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world,” Obama said in a statement.
Clinton will be honored for his global humanitarianism. Through the Clinton Foundation, he has worked to improve public health, economic development and environmental protection. The White House also recognized his work with former President George W. Bush to raise money in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.

Winfrey will be recognized for her philanthropic efforts, which focus largely on education and creating opportunities for women in the U.S. and in Africa.
Clinton and Winfrey will be among musicians, scientists, activists and an astronaut being honored this year. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights leader and minister and Ernie Banks, a former baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, will be awarded. Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., will be awarded posthumously.

The US says it is prepared to work with Iran’s new administration on the nuclear issue after President Hassan Rohani called on Western governments to engage in talks with Tehran on “equal footing.”
The inauguration of President Rohani presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program,” White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said on Sunday.
Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to … find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States,” Carney added.
During his swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, the new Iranian president called on Western governments to stop using the language of sanctions to address the Islamic Republic.I say candidly that if you want a proper response, speak to Iran not with the language of sanctions but with the language of respect,” Rohani stated.
The new chief executive noted that the only way for interaction with Iran is “dialog on equal footing, mutual confidence-building, mutual respect and reduction of hostilities.”

Iran’s new president took the oath of office on Sunday, one day after being endorsed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Rohani won Iran’s June 14 presidential election with 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million ballots. The voter turnout in the election was 72.7 percent.
Carney further expressed hope that the administration of President Rohani would listen to the will of the voters “by making choices that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people.”
The US has imposed several rounds of illegal sanctions on Iran, which Washington claims to be aimed at pressuring Tehran to abandon its nuclear energy program.
In its latest measure against Iran, the US House of Representatives last Wednesday approved a bill to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports and financial sector.
The bill, which must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law, seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports by one million barrels per day over a year.
Tehran has categorically rejected West’s accusations, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Rare interview with Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi'

In his first interview since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi last month, Egypt’s commanding general sharply criticized the U.S. response, accusing the Obama administration of disregarding the Egyptian popular will and of providing insufficient support amid threats of a civil war.

“You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that,” said an indignant Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, speaking of the U.S. government. “Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?”

Sissi is widely considered the most powerful man in Egypt, wielding more control than anyone over the country’s direction after a tumultuous 21/2 years in which the military has shoved aside two presidents following popular uprisings. He denied interest in running for president but did not rule it out.Although Sissi gives occasional speeches, he rarely sits down for interviews. But over the course of two hours in an ornate reception room in Cairo’s Defense Ministry on Thursday, he provided his most detailed explanation yet of why he decided to oust Morsi, the nation’s first democratically elected president. Sissi also expressed deep disappointment that the United States has not been more eager to embrace his rationale.

Sissi’s comments are a measure of just how thoroughly the Obama administration has alienated both sides in a profoundly polarized and unsettled Egypt, all while trying to remain neutral. Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood regularly accuse the United States of acquiescing to a military coup.

Sissi spoke on the same day that Secretary of State John F. Kerry made the administration’s most supportive comments to date, saying that Egypt’s army was “restoring democracy.”

“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people,” Kerry said during a visit to Pakistan. “The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment — so far.”

The U.S. government is required by law to halt non-humanitarian assistance when a democratically elected government is forced from office in a military coup. But the Obama administration appears determined to avoid using that term and to prevent a cutoff of the $1.3 billion that the U.S. government sends to Egypt annually. Much of that aid goes to the military.

Since Morsi’s July 3 ouster, U.S. officials have cautioned Sissi and other generals to show restraint in their dealings with protesters, at least 140 of whom have been killed in clashes with security forces. The Obama administration has also encouraged the military to reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood.

That prospect appears distant, with authorities promising a fresh crackdown on Islamist protests and Morsi continuing to be detained in an undisclosed location, unable to communicate with even his family.

Still, the furthest Washington has been willing to go in penalizing the military is to postpone the sale of four F-16 fighters. Most analysts say the delay is purely symbolic.

Sissi bristled at the move. “This is not the way to deal with a patriotic military,” he said.

Like many pro-military Egyptians, Sissi appeared angry that the United States has not fully endorsed what he described as “a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule.” Supporters of Morsi’s removal compare it to longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 2011 ouster, which was applauded in Washington. But unlike Mubarak, Morsi had been elected in a vote widely seen as free and fair.

The Egyptian military has long received critical support from the United States. In return, it has upheld Egypt’s decades-old peace treaty with Israel while serving as a key regional ally.

The ties between Cairo and Washington remain close, although Egypt has recently begun receiving far more aid from regional backers — including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates — and American influence in Egypt appears to be waning.

Sissi said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calls him “almost every day” but that President Obama has not called since Morsi’s ouster. On Saturday, Sissi assured Hagel that the country’s leaders were “working toward a process of political reconciliation,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said, according to Reuters.

In the interview, Egypt’s commanding general suggested that if the United States wants to avoid further bloodshed in Egypt, it should persuade the Muslim Brotherhood to back down from the Cairo sit-ins it has maintained since July 3.

“The U.S. administration has a lot of leverage and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood, and I’d really like the U.S. administration to use this leverage with them to resolve the conflict,” Sissi said.

Morsi came to power last year amid Egypt’s first wave of voting after the toppling of Mubarak. The newly elected president received much of his support from the Brotherhood but also won the backing of non-Islamist Egyptians who favored the group because of its reputation for honesty and good works.

Sissi said he had recognized problems with Morsi from the day he was inaugurated. The president, Sissi said, was “not a president for all Egyptians but a president representing his followers and supporters.”

One of Morsi’s first major acts in office was to sweep away an older generation of military leaders and appoint Sissi to command the country’s armed forces. At the time, many observers speculated that Morsi had selected Sissi because he was more sympathetic than other commanders to the Brotherhood, which had been oppressed by generations of military-backed leaders.

But in the interview, the 58-year-old Sissi was unsparing in his critique of the group, saying that Brotherhood members are more devoted to their Islamist beliefs than they are to Egypt. “The idea that gathers them together is not nationalism, it’s not patriotism, it is not a sense of a country,” he said.

Still, Sissi portrayed himself as reluctant to move against Morsi and said he had done all he could during the president’s year in office to help him succeed. Morsi, he said, had repeatedly failed to heed the general’s advice.

Meanwhile, the economy was badly deteriorating, and law and order had begun to break down. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration, to demand the end of his rule.

Ultimately, Sissi said, he had no choice.

“I expected if we didn’t intervene, it would have turned into a civil war,” he said.

Morsi’s backers in the Brotherhood say it is the military that is trying to foment a civil war, by whipping up anti-Islamist sentiment in the media and ordering security forces to crack down on peaceful demonstrations. In response to Kerry’s Thursday comments, which appeared to back the military, Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the Obama administration is “supporting tyranny and dictatorship.”

Although the military has dominated this country for six decades — with Morsi’s year in office marking the only exception — Sissi said the generals have no intention of continuing to rule.

Interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour, who was appointed by Sissi, has announced an ambitious timetable for returning to democracy. The road map includes a referendum on a revised constitution, followed by new parliamentary elections by early 2014 and then a presidential vote.

Analysts have cast doubt on the likelihood that political forces in Egypt will be allowed to develop independent of the military’s control, particularly on such a tight schedule. But Sissi said that the elections will go ahead as planned and that international monitors will be welcome to observe.

Asked if he intends to run for president, as previous military leaders have done, Sissi suggested he will not, saying he does not “aspire for authority.” But when pressed, he stopped short of ruling out the possibility.

“The most important achievement in my life is to overcome this circumstance, [to ensure] that we live peacefully, to go on with our road map and to be able to conduct the coming elections without shedding one drop of Egyptian blood,” he said, before adding, “When the people love you, this is the most important thing for me.”

MTV will become Miley Television this fall.
The 20-year-old actress-singer is getting a one-hour documentary – not yet titled – on the music network. The announcement was made Friday by MTV Programming President Susanne Daniels at the annual Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Cameras will follow Cyrus as she works on her new album, which is due out later this year.
Her current single, “We Can’t Stop,” is No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Cyrus was the star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” for four seasons. The series’ finale aired in January 2011.

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