Coco Gauff, the most famous American tennis prodigy who is only 16 years old, declared that she has finally found the courage and the correct words to speak out against social and racial injustice after appearing at a Black Lives Matter protest rally.
The youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women's Tennis Association with a career-high ranking of number 49 in the world in singles and number 42 in doubles, contributed with a speech during a peaceful protest in her hometown of Delray Beach, Florida in June.
Tennis - Australian Open - Fourth Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 26, 2020 Cori Gauff of the U.S. celebrates during her match against Sofia Kenin of the U.S. Image credit REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
Blunt and for some people too direct on social networks, Gauff has released videos protesting against murders of African Americans in the U.S. during widespread outrage following the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
“I was talking off the cuff and was nervous,” Gauff said to a virtual news conference yesterday. “But the message gets through when you’re speaking from your heart.
“I think George Floyd opened a lot of people’s eyes but I feel this topic has been close to me ever since I was a kid.
“I was finally able to put it into words because to talk about this issue you need to be educated on the topic.”
At the rally, Gauff’s words came right after her grandmother, Yvonne Odom, who was the first black student at her high school in 1961, addressed the crowd.
“I’d say I felt calm because of my grandmother. She’s taught me a lot over the last few years,” Gauff said.
“My grandmother was the first to integrate a high school in Seacrest, Florida, so I’ve learned from her stories.”
Coco Gauff. Image credit REUTERS/Monica Almeida/File Photo
Gauff, who rocketed to fame when she beat her idol, Venus Williams, at last year’s Wimbledon game, returns to action for the first time at the Top Seed Open, after the coronavirus pandemic stopped the sport’s matches.
The games will resume today in Lexington, Kentucky, where she will be joined by Venus, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka in a strong field.
“I missed competing, but I think it was a good little break for me as I still consider myself in a developmental stage,” Gauff explained.
“I got to work on a few things and now I’m excited to get back on the court.”
Good luck Coco!