Remarks by the First Lady at Arthur Ashe Kids' Day
New York, New York
2:04 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Wow! (Applause.) Are you guys having fun? (Applause.) Is everybody here ready to move? (Applause.) Well, I am. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be here with all of you. You all look good, you sound good. This is amazing.
I want to start by thanking one of my favorite athletes, a woman who has become a very good friend, Serena, for that very kind introduction. Let's give her a round of applause. So proud of Serena. (Applause.) She is awesome.
And I want to thank Missy, as well as Quddus for being our MCs today. I've been watching them backstage -- they're really good. You guys can talk a lot. That’s excellent.
I got to see Missy as well as Serena compete at last year’s Olympics, and it was truly an honor. They represented this country with grace, and they brought back some medals, and it was a very good thing. So congratulations, Missy. I know you're headed to college, right? Way to go! Education is important. I am proud of all of them, and I am proud of all of these players up here as well for being such outstanding role models to all of you young people.
I also have to recognize a wonderful woman who has been an inspiration to so many of us -- the wife of Arthur Ashe, Jeanne Ashe, and well as her daughter, Camera, who are here today. It’s an honor to be here with them today to celebrate Arthur’s legacy. (Applause.) And I also have to point out that there is someone also very special here, a living legend who has meant so much to me, so much to women, so much to young people and young athletes all over this country -- the great Billie Jean King is here. Let's give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
And we also have a very special group of people here -- we have some members of our military and their families who are here, so I want us to make sure that we thank them for their sacrifice and for their grace. (Applause.) We are so proud of you all. It's great to have you here.
And most of all, I want to thank David Haggerty, Katrina Adams, and everyone from the USTA for being such outstanding partners in our work to help kids and families across this country lead healthier lives. The USTA has already done so much. They have been such amazing partners on this initiative.
But today, I want to applaud them for announcing that they’re going to do even more. They're going even further. They’re committing to build 5,000 more courts. They have committed to train 15,000 more instructors. They are going to engage an additional 300,000 young people in afterschool summer programs. And they're going to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of new equipment to kids in communities all across this country. Let's give the USTA a round of applause for that outstanding commitment to our children, our communities and their health. (Applause.)
It's such a big deal, because we know how important it is to create early, positive experiences for our young people. And I want to make sure that I thank everyone at the Partnership for a Healthier America for helping to make this happen. Because of the USTA, what they're doing, more kids like all of you are going to be out there learning to play tennis on kid-sized courts all across this country.
And just let me share something with you. When you -- I was your age, I didn’t have tennis role models. I didn’t live in a community where there were any tennis courts. And, quite frankly, I don’t think I knew a single person when I was young who even knew how to play tennis.
So this commitment is huge, because kids like you who are going to get involved in tennis, you guys are going to be way ahead of me. I just wish that I had had some of these opportunities when I was your age, because if I had started playing earlier, I'd be a whole lot better than I am today.
And believe me, I love the game of tennis. I really do. It's a great way to stay healthy, to stay fit. It's a lifelong sport. It's something I've tried to tell my kids -- I forced them into playing tennis because I didn’t want them to be like me. But it's a great way to stay active. And today, I don’t worry about how good I am -- because I'm not very good, so it's easy. For me, tennis is an important way to achieve my own personal goals.
Tennis is a sport, as I said, that you can play for your entire life. It's a good game to get your heart racing and pumping no matter how old you are. So you guys are lucky to have the USTA working so hard to make tennis available to so many more kids across this country.
And that’s really what Let's Move is all about -- it's about helping kids across this country get active and feel healthy and learn the skills that you all are going to need to succeed not just in school, but in life. You're going to learn things like hard work, team work, discipline -- that’s why playing sports is so important. And that’s what sports teaches you -- it teaches you that if you keep on practicing and giving 100 percent to anything you do, you will get better at it. And that’s not just true on the tennis court, but that’s also true in the classroom as well.
Because if you want to succeed -- and, young people, I really want you to pay attention to this, because many of you have already started school or many of you are going to be starting the school year off -- if you want to be good at anything, you have to work at it. I know your parents tell you that all the time, but I want to emphasize it -- if you want to be good at anything, you have to put the work in. You have to show up every day. You have to do your homework every single night without any exceptions. And you have to work hard for every test, for everything you do. That’s how you become successful. And you all can do it. (Applause.)
Just know this -- the harder you work, the smarter you will get. And the athletes that are here on this stage that you will hear from, they know that all too well. And it's important for you guys to understand that no one waved a magic wand over these guys and turned them into champions. They turned themselves into champions by putting in the effort, by exercising and focusing every day, working out, eating right, practicing their skills over and over and over again. That’s what it takes to be excellent.
And I know that all of you young people here have everything you need right now to be great. We are proud of you. Know that. The President is proud of you, I'm proud of you. We cannot wait to see who you're going to become. But we want you to know you've got to focus, you've got to be fit, you've got to eat healthy, and you've got to keep moving.
You guys are the next generation. And we are looking so forward for all of the wonderful things you're going to do to contribute to this country and to this world in the years to come.
We love you so much. God bless you, and have a great academic year. (Applause.)
2:14 P.M. EDT