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Entertainment USA

Zayn Malik’s New Album Sparks Baby Name Speculation 4 Mos. After Welcoming Daughter

Fans think Zayn Malik has a new muse in his life. A few were convinced that Zayn seemingly hinted at his and Gigi Hadid’s baby’s name on his new album, ‘Nobody Is Listening.’

It’s no secret that Gigi Hadid has been the inspiration for much of Zayn Malik’s music, and his new album Nobody Is Listening was no different. But this time, fans thought that the 28-year-old singer possibly snuck in a reference to their four-month-old daughter. The couple has yet to reveal their infant’s name, and fans intensely listened to the 11-track album’s lyrics to see if there was a baby name in there — a few fans came up with some theories.

“Zayn’s baby’s name is calamity,” one fan guessed in a tweet, referring to the lead single on the album in which Zayn pleasantly surprised fans by showing off his rapping. Another fan looked at a different song title — track 11, “River Road” — as a possible clue. “Tbh i think zayn’s daughter’s name is river or something close to it. if i’m right, i WILL scream,” the fan wrote. A third fan had no guesses and instead posted a meme of someone solving calculations, writing, “Me listening to Zayn’s new album trying to find any cryptic lyrics to what the kid is called.” That’s all of us right now, honestly.

Zayn announced on Sept. 24 that Gigi, 25, had given birth to their daughter. “Our baby girl is here, healthy and beautiful,” Zayn captioned a social media photo of a little hand clutching his tattooed finger. “To try [and] put into words how I am feeling right now would be an impossible task. The love I feel for this tiny human is beyond my understanding. Grateful to know her, proud to call her mine, and thankful for the life we will have together.” The next day, Zayn dropped “Better,” a song that would turn out to be the lead single from his third solo album, Nobody Is Listening.

Everyone was watching Gigi and Zayn at the start of 2020. In the spring, it was widely reported that the model and ex-One Direction member were expecting. Gigi eventually confirmed the reports during an April 30 appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. “Obviously, we wished we could have announced it on our own terms,” she told Jimmy Fallon, “but we’re very excited and happy and grateful for everyone’s well wishes and support.”

Zayn Malik performs at Wango Tango at StubHub Center on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Carson, Calif. (AP)

This announcement came during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Gigi, at the time, was spending the lockdown at her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. “It’s a nice silver lining to be able to be home and be together and really experience it day by day,” said Gigi. As the months passed, Gigi and Zayn made plans to move into their newly renovated $5.8 million home in New York City’s ritz NoHo neighborhood. In July, Gigi shared how she “spent all of last year designing and curating my passion project/dream spot,” and how she was “excited for the time I’ll get to spend enjoying all the special corners that were made” with help from some of her favorite creatives. It seems that Gigi’s pregnancy also inspired Zayn.

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Entertainment USA TV

Lindsay Arnold shows off her bikini body… just two months after welcoming daughter Sage

Lindsay Arnold sure knows how to kick off 2021 with a bang.

On Wednesday the Dancing With The Stars professional waltzer from Utah posted two sizzling bikini photos to social media.

This comes two months after the 26-year-old blonde beauty welcomed her first child with husband Samuel Lightner Cusick.

A 10: Lindsay Arnold sure knows how to kick off 2021 with a bang. On Wednesday the Dancing with The Stars professional waltzer from Utah posted two sizzling bikini photos to social media

The salsa queen had her feet in the ocean with a picturesque sunset in the background.

The toned star looked slender with a small waistline as she wore a black bikini with her blonde hair down over her shoulders.

There were other images of the star in a tropical paradise as she had on a bright yellow bikini that flattered her impressive post-baby body.

And she presented new images of her baby, dressed in a onesie.

Splish splash: The salsa queen had her feet in the ocean with a picturesque sunset in the background

Beach babe: The toned star looked slender with a small waistline as she wore a black bikini with her blonde hair down over her shoulders

With child: Here she is seen during her pregnancy

Beach babe: The toned star looked slender with a small waistline as she wore a black bikini with her blonde hair down over her shoulders on the left. On the right she is seen during her pregnancy

So in love: In another post, Arnold called her husband her 'best friend' and said she was 'grateful' to him

So in love: In another post, Arnold called her husband her ‘best friend’ and said she was ‘grateful’ to him

‘Vacation time,’ the beauty said in her caption as she added a sun emoji.

‘Instagram husband/dad of the year goes to Sam who is mine and Sage’s personal photographer for this trip.’

She added hashtags for vacation, sunset, beach and ocean. 

Her followers were stunned by how slender she looks with some saying ‘hot mama’ and others adding, ‘And you just had a baby???? Gah you’re so gorgeous.’ Another added, ‘Who looks this good?’

In November she shared a look at her newborn child, daughter Sage Jill Cusick. 

Another look: The TV star was also seen in a yellow bikini with a one-shoulder strap

Another look: The TV star was also seen in a yellow bikini with a one-shoulder strap

New mommy: This comes two months after the 26-year-old blonde beauty welcomed her first child with husband Samuel Lightner Cusick

New mommy: This comes two months after the 26-year-old blonde beauty welcomed her first child with husband Samuel Lightner Cusick

So in love: Here she is seen with her high school sweetheart turned husband on the trip

So in love: Here she is seen with her high school sweetheart turned husband on the trip

The siren revealed in her accompanying Instagram post that the infant had been name for her grandmother who has passed away on November 2, 2019.

‘She entered this world on the same day that we lost Sam’s beautiful mother just one year ago,’ Arnold wrote.

‘We couldn’t help but see God’s hand in this and know that Sage was handed down to us by her beautiful angel grandmother, Jennifer Jill Gillette Cusick,’ she added.

All dressed up for a day out with mommy: And her child was cute in her striped dress

All dressed up for a day out with mommy: And her child was cute in her striped dress

They sure live in luxury: The family enjoyed a sunset meal at the resort

They sure live in luxury: The family enjoyed a sunset meal at the resort

The dancer went on: ‘We could not be more in love with her and feel blessed beyond words to be her parents.’

Arnold had shared photos from the delivery as she announced her baby’s arrival.

And in Wednesday’s update, she described in more detail how the child came eight days early and as she was in a breech position, she had to be delivered via C-section.

The newborn weighed in at a healthy 7 lbs 10 oz and measured 19 inches tall.

The first photo of the family of three, shared via Instagram, showed Arnold, Cusick and Sage Jill moments after the delivery.

Arnold held the bundled up newborn close to her face as medical professionals continued to treat her following the C-section.

Proud papa Cusick, dressed in blue hospital scrubs, stroked his daughter’s head as he beamed into the camera. 

Her name: 'She entered this world on the same day that we lost Sam's beautiful mother just one year ago,' Arnold wrote. 'We couldn't help but see God's hand in this and know that Sage was handed down to us by her beautiful angel grandmother, Jennifer Jill Gillette Cusick'

Her name: ‘She entered this world on the same day that we lost Sam’s beautiful mother just one year ago,’ Arnold wrote. ‘We couldn’t help but see God’s hand in this and know that Sage was handed down to us by her beautiful angel grandmother, Jennifer Jill Gillette Cusick’

Dramatic arrival: With her baby who she had delivered via C-section; also seen with her husband in the hospital room photo

Dramatic arrival: With her baby who she had delivered via C-section; also seen with her husband in the hospital room photo

The pregnancy news: The couple had announced they were expecting in May and posted a string of ultra sound images on their social media. Arnold married her high school sweetheart Samuel Lightner Cusick in a ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2015

The pregnancy news: The couple had announced they were expecting in May and posted a string of ultra sound images on their social media. Arnold married her high school sweetheart Samuel Lightner Cusick in a ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2015

The couple had announced they were expecting in May and posted a string of ultra sound images on their social media. 

The high school sweethearts got engaged in 2014 and married in a ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2015.

Arnold began her career on season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars in 2013. In 2019, the looker danced with Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary and communications director under Donald Trump in 2017.

A bad year for her: Arnold began her career on season 16 of ABC's Dancing With The Stars in 2013. In 2019, the looker danced with Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary and communications director under Donald Trump in 2017. Also seen in Tom Bergeron

A bad year for her: Arnold began her career on season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars in 2013. In 2019, the looker danced with Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary and communications director under Donald Trump in 2017. Also seen in Tom Bergeron

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Bollywood

Welcoming the newest addition: All the celebrity babies of 2020


This year, many celebrity couples — in both Bollywood and television — became parents including Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Karanvir Bohra, Kalki Koechlin, Aftab Shivdasani, Sumeet Vyas, Natasa Stankovic, Amrita Rao. And then, there are many who announced the happy news of their pregnancy on social media and are set to welcome their babies in early 2021 such as actors Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma, Anita Hassanandani, Nakuul Mehta. We take a look at celebrities recently made headlines with the addition of new family members and baby announcements.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Raj Kundra

 

Actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra and businessman Raj Kundra welcomed the arrival of baby girl, Junior SSK in the house, Samisha Shetty Kundra on February 15th through surrogacy.

Kalki Koechlin and Guy Hershberg

 

Choosing water-birth delivery and a gender-neutral name for her first child, actor Kalki Koechlin gave birth to her daughter Sappho on February 7, with her pianist- boyfriend Guy Hershberg.

Sumeet Vyas and Ekta Kaul

 

Thrilled to introduce first-born to the world, actor-couple Sumeet Vyas and Ekta Kaul welcomed their son, Ved on June 3. Sharing on Instagram, Vyas wrote, “It’s a boy. Shall be called Ved. Mamma and Daddy are acting cliche…smothering the child every few minutes.”

Hardik Pandya and Natasa Stankovic

 

Congratulations were in order for cricketer Hardik Pandya and model-wife, Natasa Stankovic their son, Agastya on July 30. Before finalising the name, Pandya introduced the baby as ‘Pandya Junior’. The couple had also hosted a baby shower and made the news public on May 31.

Teejay Sidhu and Karanvir Bohra

 

The best things come in threes, and we are sure elated mumma-dadda to three, actor Karanvir Bohra and wife Teejay Sidhu couldn’t agree more. The couple welcomed their daughter, and third baby on December 20.The couple are parents to twin-daughters, Bella and Vienna.

Mandira Bedi and Raj Kaushal

 

Actor and television presenter, Mandira Bedi with husband Raj Kaushal adopted a 4-year-old little bundle of joy, Tara who became a part of the family on July 28. The pair has a 9-year-old son Vir.

Amrita Rao and RJ Anmol

 

Actor Amrita Rao and RJ Anmol were blessed with a baby boy, Veer on November 1.The couple announced the pregnancy news on Instagram in a post that said, ‘For YOU it’s the 10th Month…But for US, it’s THE 9th !!! 🥳 🥰🕺💃Surprise Surprise ..Anmol and I are in our NINE’th month Already !!”

Aftab Shivdasani and Nin Dusanj

 

Embracing first-time parenthood are actor Aftab Shivdasani and wife, Nin Dusanj, who took to social media to break the news of the birth of daughter Nevaeh, on August 1. In a post, Shivdasani wrote, “A little bit of heaven has been sent to Earth’… With God’s blessings, Nin Dusanj and I are elated to announce the birth of our daughter… we are proud parents and a family of three now.”

Lisa Haydon and Dino Lalvani

 

Actor Lisa Haydon welcomed her second baby boy, Leo with husband Dino Lalvani. On February 15, Haydon took to her Instagram handle and shared the happy news. The couple has three-year old son named Zack.

Gaurav Chopra and Hitisha

 

Actor Gaurav Chopraa announced the arrival of baby boy on social media. Born on September 14, new-father shared heartfelt post that stated, “Mere ghar aaya ek nanha kunwar…chandni ke haseen rath par savaar…”

ARRIVING SOON

Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli

 

On August 27, mom-to-be and actor Anushka Sharma and husband Indian cricketer Virat Kohli took to social media to make the big announcement. The duo is set to welcome the little one in January 21. Also, Twitter India announced that the news of pregnancy shared by Virat Kohli on Twitter was the Most Liked Tweet in India for the year 2020.

Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan

 

Eating for two is currently actor Kareena Kapoor Khan who is expecting her second child with actor-husband Saif Ali Khan in early 2021. The couple announced the news on social media in August and wrote, “We are very pleased to announce that we are expecting an addition to our family!”

Anita Hassanandani and Rohit Reddy

 

Getting ready for Reddy are actor Anita Hassanandani and her husband, entrepreneur Rohit Reddy who revealed the big news through an adorable video sharing the relationship stages. The arrival of the baby is expected in February 2021.

Nakuul Mehta and Jankee Parekh

 

Ecstatic first-time parents, actor Nakuul Mehta and Jankee Parekh made the news public through a series of maternity shoot. Parekh shared the pictures and captioned, “Our quarantine wasn’t boring at all 😋 we’re going to have a souvenir for life and we CANNOT wait!”.



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Entertainment UK

Kate Ferdinand breaks silence after welcoming baby boy with sweet post

Kate Ferdinand has broken her social media silence for the first time since welcoming her baby son.

29-year-old Kate, who last week gave birth to her first child with husband Rio Ferdinand, took to her Instagram in a sweet birthday tribute to a “special” mate.

The TOWIE beauty shared two snaps of her with friend Hayley, wishing her the best day and adding: “We all love you very much, thank you for being you x.”

Last week reports emerged that Kate had given birth to a son just in time for the holidays.

Kate and Rio are yet to address the reports, as fans eagerly await the announcement of a name.

Kate and Rio have welcomed their first child together

They shared their baby joy in June, tying the knot in a sun-drenched Turkey ceremony nine months before.

They were thought to have been dating since 2016, after they “just clicked” during their first meeting.

And Kate told the world she was expecting in a video that saw her break the happy news to Rio’s three kids.

Kate shared the sweet birthday post for pal Hayley

Kate’s already a proud step-mum

She kept fans updated every step of the way during her pregnancy, sharing the struggles as well as her delight at becoming a mum for the first time.

This included a nasty injury that saw her tear her stomach muscles, meaning she had to ease off her famously vigorous workouts.

She also admitted nerves about motherhood – despite already being devoted stepmum to Rio’s kids Lorenz, 14, Tate, 12 and Tia, nine.

She’s known for her pregnancy honesty

Kate said she was nervous ahead of the birth

The three kids couldn’t wait to meet their new brother.

Rio’s shares the three with late wife Rebecca Ellison, who died in 2015 aged 34 after a battle with breast cancer.

“I’m a bit of a worrier,” Kate shared with OK! magazine.

“It’s quite a busy household as it is – we’ve got a lot going on. There’s a lot of horse riding, football, everything. So it makes me a little bit nervous, having a baby, how he’s going to fit in.”

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Entertainment UK

Ronan Keating vows to get vasectomy after welcoming fifth child


Eight months ago, Ronan Keating was adamant he wasn’t having a vasectomy – but since welcoming his fifth child Coco in March, he has changed his mind.

The Boyzone star, 43, said in July his wife Storm had suggested the idea, though he hadn’t been convinced.

But now, as Coco turns eight months old, some unknown factor appears to have changed his mind on the idea.

He announced emphatically: “I’m getting the snip. Out the door, done – job’s a good ’un.”

Ronan, whose eldest child is 22, has been hands-on changing nappies, and credits Coco with being a good sleeper.

Ronan recently welcomed his second child with wife Storm, making him a father of five

Ronan Keating and Storm Keating

He even admits he’s getting quite a considerable amount of shut eye himself, admitting: “I use red wine to get to sleep at night!”

Little Coco was born during the first lockdown in March, at The Portland Hospital in Central London.

Ronan says the scene at the time felt like one out of post-apocalyptic thriller I Am Legend, starring Will Smith.

He wants to get the snip

Ronan added to the Sweat, Snot & Tears podcast: “It was unbelievable.

“I walked out on to the street and there was not a car, a bike, nothing, not a person on the street.

“It was unique – it was quite special. You’ve got to look at the positives.

“We were together. Then, we had this really special time at home.”

The full episode is available at netmums.com/podcast.

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Sports UK

Footage resurfaces of Rooney brutally ‘welcoming’ Ronaldo to Premier League


Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney spent five seasons playing alongside each other at Manchester United.

The pair helped the Red Devils win a number of trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson, including three Premier League titles and a Champions League.

However, their first meeting in English football was rather different, with the two lining up as opponents at Old Trafford back on Boxing Day in 2003.

Ronaldo was in his first year as a United player, having been signed from Sporting Lisbon for £12m that summer after impressing in a pre-season friendly.

Rooney, meanwhile, was into his second full season at Everton and the two faced off in a game which United won 3-2.

Wayne Rooney was booked for a tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo in the pair’s first meeting in the Premier League

Just before the hour mark, and with the Toffees losing 2-1, Ronaldo got the ball on the left wing and Rooney clattered into his future team-mate with a brutal challenge.

Unsurprisingly, Rooney was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean and, just eight months later, the striker joined Ronaldo at Old Trafford after completing a £25.6m move.

They developed a close friendship at United and Rooney has since revealed their infamous clash at the 2006 World Cup helped them form “a bond … that pushed us — and Manchester United — to the greatest highs”.

Writing in his Sunday Times column, Rooney recalled: “I had my phone in my hand and I was getting all these messages about Ronaldo. Of course, when he ran over to ask Elizondo to send me off I pushed him away.

“In that moment I couldn’t believe what he was doing. But sitting in that dressing room gave me time to calm down and think. I put myself in Ronaldo’s shoes. Would I do the same? Probably.

“Would I be in the ref’s face to make sure he got sent off? If he deserved the red, if it would help us win — yes, no question. I’d do it tomorrow.

“I thought: ‘Actually, I tried to get him booked in the first half for diving.’ And the wink thing, I didn’t see anything in that at all. It was nothing.

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“So I calmed down. I went over to him afterwards in the tunnel. I felt it was important to speak to him while it was still fresh and to do it face to face.

“He gave me a look as if to say sorry but by then I had my United head on. I said I’ve no issues with you. Enjoy your tournament and good luck. I’ll see you in a few weeks — and let’s go try and win the league.”

“What came out of it was a bond between me and Cristiano Ronaldo that pushed us — and Manchester United — to the greatest highs.”





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Bollywood

Madhurima Tuli: Bollywood is not such a welcoming place, it is harsh


Conversations about how Bollywood shuns people who come from outside the industry, have been dominating for a while now, and Madhurima Tuli agrees that it’s indeed true. The actor, who’s among many to have transitioned from TV to films, feels that there are indeed prejudices that exist.

“The transition from TV to films was not very difficult but then of course when I started a film career, I was doing TV and people said that if you’re doing TV, you cannot do films. So, I was always very scared thought since I was doing TV whether I’ll get a film or not,” shares Tuli, who has starred in films such as Baby, Hamari Adhuri Kahani (2015) and Naam Shabana (2017).

There’s also the whole TV actor tag that one has shrug off while making a career in films, feels the actor.

“The tag happens because you’re playing the part for almost three to four years, non-stop. So, people see you like that particular character and it becomes difficult to be seen in some other character after that show,” she explains, adding that the only way to break that image would be to take a break, groom yourself, change your look and then try for films.

 

However, Tuli says that having a TV background is of a great help as it prepares one well. “The tough shooting conditions helps an actor to a great deal while doing TV and that comes in handy in films too,” she adds.

An ex-Bigg Bos contestant, the actor admits that it’s not easy to have a career in films as one has to go through a lot to prove oneself.

“Bollywood is harsh; it’s not such a welcoming place. You really have to prove yourself to stay there. And I think it takes time so you’ve to I guess just focus on your work and keep believing in yourself. Once you lose your belief, then I think you cannot survive in this industry because it’s difficult to survive here,” points out the actor.

Her personal experiences, Tuli shares, has been a mixed bag so far. “It has been on and off, honestly people have appreciated my work and there are people who haven’t entertained me also. I feel blessed and lucky. I’m happy with however it is going for me,” Tuli says.



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Entertainment UK

Gigi Hadid unveils post-baby figure in first selfie after welcoming daughter


Gigi Hadid showed off her post-baby physique as she took to social media to unveil her first selfie since welcoming her baby daughter.

The 25-year-old model, who recently gave birth her first child with One Direction’s Zayn Malik, looked sensational as she posed for the snap while urging US citizens to vote in the upcoming election.

In the picture, Gigi donned a yellow pair of sweatpants and a black t-shirt emblazoned with the word “vote” on the front.

The supermodel was also fresh faced as she ditched her makeup and let her locks fall naturally over her shoulder.

Sharing a collection of images with her 60.1 million Instagram followers, the blonde bombshell then also provided her fans with useful information about how to vote early.

In her lengthy caption, Gigi revealed that she has already cast her vote and had made her decision based on the future that she wanted her daughter to enjoy.

Gigi urged her followers to vote

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“I voted absentee last week with my daughter next to me, for an America I want her to see; but not just for us- for fellow Americans that are less privileged, with hope for a nation that is unified, that is empathetic, & for a leader that is compassionate,” she wrote.

“YOU HAVE A WEEK AND A HALF. IF YOU’RE VOTING EARLY IM PROUD OF YOU.
YOU MAILED IN YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT I’M PROUD OF YOU.

“(&& if you dropped it off at your County’s Board of Elections Office or at an Early Polling Site I’m proud of you!!) .

The model welcomed a daughter with One Direction’s Zayn Malik

The supermodel showed off a snap of her colourful outfit

Gigi added: “IF YOU’RE GOING TO THE POLLS ON NOVEMBER 3RD I’M PROUD OF YOU.

Whatever your PLAN, I’m proud of you; make sure you have one !!! Let me know below.”

Since sharing the post on Saturday, Gigi has been inundated with compliments and messages from fans that have vowed to vote in the upcoming election.

Gigi gave birth to a baby daughter last month but is yet to unveil a snap of her baby daughter’s face

Gigi and Zayn Malik became first-time parents last month and the supermodel has been loving every minute of becoming a new mum.

While the couple adjust to parenthood, the family have refrained from posting any images of their baby daughter’s face since the birth, or her name.

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us direct 0207 29 33033.





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Entertainment UK

Zayn Malik gets back to work in rare snap after welcoming baby with Gigi Hadid


Zayn Malik has delighted his fans with a rare snap of himself in his first social media appearance since becoming a dad.

The 27-year-old singer welcomed his first child with girlfriend Gigi Hadid just weeks ago.

The former One Direction star has kept a low profile since the arrival.

This isn’t out of character as he rarely posted on his social media pages before as he usually opted for a slice of the quiet life.

But the star has emerged from new parenthood hiding to thrill fans with a snap of himself as he filmed a music video.

Zayn was seen sitting on a stone bench among a woodland setting in an unbuttoned purple velvet shirt, giving fans a glimpse at his heavily tattooed chest.

Zayn has emerged from new-parenthood-hiding to thrill fans with a snap of himself as he filmed a music video

Surrounded by a lighting and filming team, the star rocked a smattering of purple highlights to match his outfit as his raven locks sat perfectly styled in a quiff.

He captioned the offering to his 36.9 million Instagram followers: “BETTER” alluding to his upcoming new album and emotive single by the same name.

Zayn’s rare social media appearance comes after details of chart topping Zayn and his 25-year-old model and former reality star girlfriend’s happy arrival were allegedly spilled.

Sources claimed to have further details of the happy birth after the couple opted to keep things very private.

According to Page Six, the supermodel “gave birth to her baby girl on her farm in rural Pennsylvania.”

The 27-year-old singer welcomed his first child with girlfriend Gigi Hadid just weeks ago

Their source also claimed the date of the birth was last Saturday, 19 September 2020.

The outlet also claimed: “Hadid and the baby’s dad, pop star Zayn Malik, had been isolating on the farm since May, and were more recently reportedly splitting their time between Pennsylvania and Manhattan.

“Hadid’s mom, Yolanda, has a farm nearby.”

The couple – who have had an on-off romance since 2015 – have been sharing arty snaps of their bundle of joy and some of the gifts she has already received from world famous stars.

Gigi shared a snap of her daughter’s tiny hand gripping dad Zayn’s thumb when she shared the first snap of the baby on Instagram.





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Sports UK

Hogg primed to tackle Russell before welcoming him back into Scotland squad


Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell may be friends reunited in the Scotland squad – but they will be at each other’s throats this weekend.

The pair come at Saturday’s Champions Cup final from opposing sides with Hogg spearheading Exeter’s ‘double’ bid and Russell pulling the strings for Racing 92.

Fourteen years have passed since Hogg last played against Russell – half a lifetime during which he has played 76 times for his country and toured with the Lions.

Yet it is the move to Devon which the Scotland captain says has taken his game to another level.

“I came down here to improve myself as a player and a person and get in a position to contribute to winning trophies,” said the fullback.

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell has Exeter in his sights this weekend

“We’re in a perfect position right now. This is a huge, massive opportunity and I’m absolutely buzzing.

“I’m playing some of the best rugby I’ve played in a long, long time. Of all my rugby decisions this is hands down the best I’ve ever made.”

Everything is going for Rob Baxter’s Chiefs right now, with confirmation yesterday that lock forward Jonny Hill faces no additional punishment for his no-arms clear out on Bath’s Taulupe Faletau at the weekend.

Hogg: ‘I have no doubt that if we faithfully execute our game plan we can come away with the trophy’

But that is no surprise to Hogg, who has kept a close eye on Exeter since first being approached by the club in 2017.

“With the talent here I knew it was only a matter of time,” he said. “I have no doubt that if we faithfully execute our game plan we can come away with the trophy.”

Russell will have plenty to say about that, which won’t surprise Hogg either, as “he’s one of the most naturally gifted rugby players I’ve ever come across”.

Russell’s magic steered Racing 92 past Saracens in last month’s semi-final

Hogg said: “Finn is the one guy we have to be wary of as he can change a game in a heartbeat and, without a shadow of a doubt, will be on his ‘A’ game.”

What Racing need to bear in mind is that Exeter will too. Very few teams that Chiefs suffocate with their defensive blanket live to tell the tale.

Bristol’s European Challenge Cup final against Toulon, in Aix on Friday, will be played in front of a crowd after authorities in France granted tournament bosses permission to sell 1,000 tickets.

But Exeter-Racing remains behind closed doors at Ashton Gate.





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