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THE COURIER/Photo by Dominick Totino
THE COURIER/Photo by Dominick Totino

First lady Michelle Obama headlined a star-studded 18th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 24 to kick off the US Open and send a message of being healthy and staying active.

As part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign, Obama spoke at the event to encourage children to strive towards their goals, whether it’s in sports, education or life in general.

“If you want to be good at anything you have to put the work in,” Obama said. “That’s how you become successful.”

The first lady was joined on stage by tennis royalty, such as Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“No one waved the magic wand to make these guys champions,” Obama said. “The president is proud of you, I’m proud of you; we can’t wait to see what you become.”

Up-and-coming performers also graced the stage at the ceremony, including Austin Mahone,  Coco Jones, Fifth Harmony and Ariana Grande, who sang the hit song “The Way.”

Outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium there was tons for children and parents to do.  More young performers entertained fans on the Hess Stage, such as actor and singer Trevor Jackson. There was interactive games, face-painting, circus performers and even tennis lessons. Fans could also watch professional players workout on the practice courts.

“It’s the spirit of the US Open,” said Manhattan resident Carl Wennerlind. “I just went to Roland Garros and I’ve been to Wimbledon a few times. The spirit is just different because its louder, more chaotic, but it’s also more diverse.”

Older fans embraced the event as the start of one of the world’s most celebrated tennis tournaments, while younger fans gained motivation from watching the world’s greatest players practice.

“We have been trying to come for 10 years and finally made it,” said Himadraya Ashar, whose sons are just starting to play tennis. “I think just watching the quality of tennis is inspiring.”

The US Open tournament matches will start on Monday, August 26.

 

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