Friday, September 9, 2011

Michelle Obama Takes Let's Move! To US Open

First Lady gets "fired up" with kids at junior tennis clinic in New York...
September, by President Obama's proclamation, is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and during a visit to the US Open on Friday morning, First Lady Michelle Obama took her Let's Move! message to the tennis courts. She clocked a 55 mph serve as she participated in a junior clinic sponsored by the US Tennis Association. Joined by a big group of excited local kids clad in Let's Move! t-shirts, Mrs. Obama volleyed with tennis legend John McEnroe in the SmashZone at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. She played doubles with a junior partner against Serena Williams, who arrived at the clinic after having just advanced to the Open semifinals. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Williams talk tennis with a junior player)

"I am so incredibly fired up to finally be at my first US Open," Mrs. Obama said as she thanked the USTA for supporting her childhood obesity campaign with a series of programs across the nation.

"I am excited to see so many pumped-up little tennis players right here," she said. Tennis legend Billie Jean King and US Open competitors James Blake, Katrina Adams and MaliVai Washington also joined Mrs. Obama at the clinic.

Now an avid racketeer, the First Lady said she who didn't start playing tennis until she graduated from Harvard Law School. Clad in a white sweat jacket and black pants, Mrs. Obama hailed the sport during brief remarks as one that is a terrific way for kids to stay active, even if they're not good at it. (Above: The First Lady volleys with McEnroe, not pictured)

"I grew up in the city, on the south side. And there were not a lot of tennis courts around," Mrs. Oama said of her childhood in Chicago. "And I’m not really good or anything like that -- that’s the beauty of tennis. You don’t have to be good to enjoy it, because I love the game and my skills are very questionable."

To support Let's Move, USTA has built or refurbished almost 2,000 kid-sized tennis courts throughout the country over the past year, and introduced “10 and Under” Tennis to 26 cities.

"The courts that you’ve built, these kid-size courts, are just amazing," Mrs. Obama said. "They will break that barrier. They’ll make tennis accessible to kids like me who don’t have access to the larger courts."

Tennis, Mrs. Obama said, "is great for kids," and that's why she's introduced it to her daughters at a young age. (Above: Mrs. Obama with her junior doubles partner)

"It gets you moving. It keeps you focused. You’ve got to move your muscles," Mrs. Obama said. "You’ve got to be quick. You’ve got to be strong."

Sasha, 10, accompanied her mother to the event.

"I know people in their 90s that are still playing tennis, and I want to be one of those people," Mrs. Obama said. "I want my daughters to be some of those people. And I want all kids around the country to have access to opportunities and to get some exposure to sports like tennis so that you guys figure out what your loves are."

Tennis isn't the only way to stay active, Mrs. Obama told the kids. Billie Jean King is a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and USTA has recruited more than 223,000 kids to complete the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge.

"There are so many other ways that you guys can stay fit," Mrs. Obama told the kids. "I mean, staying fit and being active means just jumping up and down. It can be dancing."

The First Lady also gave the kids her signature pitch for healthy eating.

"We want you guys eating right, too, and that’s what the “Let’s Move” campaign is all about," Mrs. Obama said. "We’re trying to get kids engaged in nutritious eating and keeping their bodies moving in all types of ways."

The First Lady later hula hooped and played against kids in a tennis video game at an indoor facility designed to get young players excited about the sport. (Above: Mrs. Obama with USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen, Washington, King, Blake, Williams and Adams)

Mrs. Obama's trip to New York was a day trip; she returned to Washington in the afternoon. She will be back in New York on Sunday to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with President Obama.

*The full transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks is here. Videos of Mrs. Obama promoting the USTA-Let's Move! partnership and President Obama at a South Lawn USTA clinic are here.

To find out more about getting a USTA tennis court in your community, click here. For more information on the PALA challenge, click here.

After her morning outing, Mrs. Obama and Sasha took in the men’s quarterfinal matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium. They were joined by King and kids from the clinic. There was much hilarity as Mrs. Obama and her guests watched themselves on the stadium's jumbotron (above; Sasha, in yellow, laughs with her mother).

The First Lady had an outfit change to watch the tennis matches, and wore patriotic red.

*Photos courtesy of US Tennis Association

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