On Blacks and Fat: Venus Williams

The Root spoke to the tennis superstar about her off-court battle: fighting obesity in America.

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VW: What works for me is [a] key word: "lifestyle." You don't have to be perfect and walk the walk every day, but you have to stay active, and you have to make the right food choices most of the time. As long as you do that, it's OK to take some days off and not be active, or eat something that's not ideal.

For me, the right food choices mean a lot of vegetables and fruit and less processed food. We also have to be really conscious about how much sugar we're taking in. You have to take the time to educate yourself.

TR: Are there any other cultural, historical or psychological issues that you think make the black community's relationship with weight and health unique?

VW: I know how I grew up. My mom had us eating vegetables. If we wanted a snack, we went to the refrigerator and got a carrot. It's so important to have good roots in healthy eating, and not everyone learns that in the beginning. And if you don't, it's hard to make changes. I think the real key in our community is to try to educate young people about eating healthy.

We need programs at the grassroots level and in the schools. It's all about keeping our country healthy, and that's important because that's our future. That's why I'm involved in a student lunch program to help students get the right amount of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

TR: According to the latest statistics, African Americans are 1.5 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be obese. What's going on, from your perspective, with black people, obesity and overall health?

VW: I'm not an expert on the statistics, but I can say that [I've promoted] a healthy, active lifestyle my whole life, across the board, for all people. I think that's an important part of avoiding obesity for any group. Jamba Juice is all about a healthy lifestyle, and of course, that's so important to me, so my work with them has been amazing. It reflects my lifestyle.

TR: What else are you working on? What's next for you?

VW: For me it's all about the Olympics right now. For now, that's my focus, and that's it.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root's staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.