Coco Gauff calls for end to gun violence after reaching French Open final | Coco Gauff

As Coco Gauff reached her first grand slam final at the French Open, defeating Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1 to become the youngest grand slam finalist since Maria Sharapova in 2004, she departed Court Philippe Chatrier with a message.

In reference to the recent mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and many others, Gauff wrote: “Peace. End gun violence,” on the camera as she left the court.

In her press conference later, Gauff said she had only thought to write on the camera as she was walking towards it and that it was spurred by waking up to another shooting, this time in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday. Gun violence is particularly close to home for after friends were caught up in the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida.

“I think for me it was just especially important just being in Europe and being where I know people globally around the world are for sure watching,” she said. “I think that this is a problem in other parts of the world, but especially in America it’s a problem that’s, frankly, been happening over some years but obviously now it’s getting more attention. But for me it’s been an issue for years.”

She continued: “For me, it’s kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting. I remember watching that whole experience pretty much firsthand, seeing and having friends go through that whole experience. Luckily they were able to make it out of it. I just think it’s crazy, I think I was maybe 14 or 13 when that happened, and still nothing has changed.”

Gauff, who turned 18 in March, has been vocal about various issues since arriving on the tour at 15 in 2019, including speaking out about the climate emergency and even giving a speech during a Black Lives Matter march in 2020: “I think now especially being 18, I’ve really been trying to educate myself around certain situations, because now I have the right to vote and I want to use that wisely.”

Asked if she has ever felt pressure around her not to speak out about non-tennis issues, Gauff said that it is the opposite has been true as the people around her have frequently encouraged her to think beyond the court.

“If anything, my team and my parents encourage me to write that,” she said. “Since I was younger – I know I said this before – that my dad told me I could change the world with my racket. He didn’t mean that by just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this. The first thing my dad said to me after I got off court: ‘I’m proud of you and I love what you wrote on the camera.’”

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