November 17, 2016
By Amanda Scurlock
“It’s been a surreal experience to be back in this way,” said five-time Olympic medalist Venus Williams.
Venus and her sister, the 22 Grand Slam title winner Serena Williams, stood at a podium in the Leuders Park Court. The court was refurbished and dedicated to the sisters, being renamed the Venus and Serena Williams Court of Champions.
This was the first time Venus and Serena returned to Compton in over a decade. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Compton councilmember Isaac Galvan were also present in the court dedication.
“We salute them for them being role models,” Ridley-Thomas said. “They face their adversity and their challenges with the kind of grace that makes us proud.”
Venus and Serena expressed their appreciation to the people of Compton for their support through the years.
“We definitely want to see some more champions made from these courts because that’s really what it’s all about,” Serena said. “We want to thank everyone out here as well for supporting us and supporting our dream and always rooting for us. We can’t literally hear you, but I tell you and promise you—we can feel you.”
They bestowed on the city the Yutunde Price Resource Center, named after their eldest sister who was a fatal victim of gun violence. The resource center will help people who were affected by violence and provide resources.
“All of us in the community in some way has been touched by violence,” said Compton Mayor Aja Brown. “This is something that’s real and impacts everyone.”
The Williams sisters also attended Healthy Compton, a festival encouraging the citizens in Compton to take advantage of healthy options.
The festival also featured a track clinic by Olympic sprinter Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter.
“I decided to bring my clinic here to Healthy Compton because I want to influence other kids to run,” Jeter said. “If you’re showing kids eating healthy and living right gets you progress, then they’ll follow you.”
The Brutez, a fitness duo that administers fast paced dance classes, hosted a session for the children who attended Healthy Compton. Jeter, Mayor Brown, and the Williams sisters all joined, following the trendy, animated dance moves to the rhythm of hip-hop music.
“Performing and inspiring young children is everything to us because they’re the next generation,” said Fever 3000, an instructor from the Brutez. “Just the fact that they saw us come here today and dance and do fitness, it was just amazing.”
Among the many organizations that were featured in Healthy Compton was the Inner City Child Development Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides transitional housing, youth mentorship and free food programs.
“It’s just wonderful to bring all the citizens together for a healthy event. We want to make sure that our seniors, our youth and the whole city is a part of health,” said Jacqueline Venters, founder of the organization. “I’m so excited to see everybody here on one accord in peace more so.”
Dav Lewis was a vender at the festival promoting his clothing brand Woke World. The brand consists of shirts with the phrases “Endangered Species,” “King,” and “Queen.”
“I, like other people in the community, are sick and tired of the same issues, the same challenges,” Lewis said. “I thought about how can I do something to educate, to bring awareness and… to bring out some of the issues that are in the Black community while giving back to community.”
YG 4 Hunnid was also in attendance at Healthy Compton. The organization, started by rapper YG, work with Mayor Brown to help those in need.
“We’re gonna stand behind [Venus and Serena] and try to make Compton more healthier,” said Shonee Jackson, mother of YG.
The Williams sisters were well received by the citizens of Compton.
“I’m glad they’re coming back, we need some more that have made it to come back and give back to the youth,” said Mary Edwards, Executive Administrator of Key of Knowledge Community Development Corporation. “What they’re getting ready to do is fantastic.”