Cory Coco Gauff is now the youngest finalist in more than 20 years at the Roland Garros, commonly called the French Open. But more than the news of her becoming the youngest finalist since Kim Clijsters in 2001, it was her message: “Peace End Gun Violence” followed by a heart which she wrote on the camera after her comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win against Italy’s Martina Trevisan in the Semi-Final of the French Open 2022.
“Today I think I played the best I could”
– Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2022
But this is not the first time that the 18-year-old has made headlines for speaking out against violence and in favor of social causes. Here are a few things that have so far shaped her very young and promising tennis career.
Gauff defeated idol Venus Williams to win her first-ever Grand Slam match
Born in Delray Beach, Florida, Coco was inspired by the Williams sisters who have played a great role in popularizing Tennis among the Black community in the United States. It was one of Coco’s dreams of her to play against the Williams sisters and she fulfilled it in style after she reached the Wimbledon 2019. She, in fact, rose to prominence with a win over Venus Williams in the opening round itself.
Coco Gauff, the prodigy
The teenager became the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and has a career-high ranking of world No. 15 in singles, achieved on 4 April 2022. But even before achieving all this, the Florida- born became the No. 1 junior in the world after winning the junior 2018 French Open singles title.
Though it was her victory over Venus that made the headlines in the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, before the victory, she had already created history by becoming the youngest player in the tournament’s history to qualify for the main draw.
Coco Gauff beat defending champion Naomi Osaka in Australian Open 2020
Just to prove that beating Venus Williams was no fluke, the then 16-year-old Gauff went on to defeat Venus once again in the Australian Open 2020 first round. But more than that victory, it was her thrilling win from her over defending Australian Open champion Japanese Naomi Osaka, whom she knocked out of the Australian Open 6-3 6-4, before going down eventually to winner Sofia Kenin in three sets.
When Coco Gauff reached the US Open Doubles Final
After beating Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka at the age of 15 and 16 years, respectively, Coco tried her hand at doubles alongside Caty McNelly, the player whom she defeated in Junior French Open Final 2018, and reached the final of US Open 2021 Women’s Doubles .
Though she and McNelly eventually lost to the Australian and Chinese pairing of Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, she caught the imagination of her nation because this victory came after her brilliant speech during the Black Lives Matter movement.
Against racial discrimination, Coco Gauff’s powerful speech
Gauff, who now has 100 wins and 53 losses before playing the 2022 French Open Final, her first-ever Singles Grand Slam Final, rose to fame after a fiery speech in her home town of Florida after the Gorge Floyd killing and before the start of the Black Lives Matter movement that engulfed the entire globe amid a raging pandemic.
Gauff shared her speech on her social media accounts. In that, the then 16-year-old is heard saying, “I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that (my grandmother) did 50-plus years ago.”
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) June 4, 2020
“So I’m here to tell you guys that we must first love each other, no matter what. We must have tough conversations with friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement,” she had added.
Coco even went on to educate 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer about the BLM issue by commenting on his post and sharing a link of what to do if you want to support the BLM.
What does Coco want to achieve through her message against Gun Violence?
The message on the camera that Coco wrote on Court Philippe-Chatrier against the Gun Violence in the US was in light of the shooting at a Tulsa medical center and the school tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, which has brought the problems of American gun violence to the fore.
Speaking about it, Coco said, “I think that this is a problem, you know, in other parts of the world, but especially in America it’s a problem that’s, frankly, been happening over some years but now it’s getting more attention. But for me, it’s been an issue for years.”
– Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2022
The World Number 22 singles ranked player who has also moved to the final in the doubles section with her fellow American partner Jessica Pegula, could achieve a double that could be record-breaking. If she wins both the singles and the doubles titles, she would be the youngest player to achieve that at the French Open. Only seven female players have achieved the feat of winning the singles and doubles title at the same grand slam event and only one has done it before at the French Open.
Gauff will be facing Poland’s Iga Swiatek in the final on June 04, 2022. Swiatek is World Number one ranked Women’s Singles player.