11 August 2020

US tennis star Coco Gauff says ‘it would have been wrong to stay silent’ during Black Lives Matter

Teenage tennis star Coco Gauff has said it ‘would have been wrong to stay silent’ during the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The 16 year-old, who rose to fame after she beat Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon in 2019, delivered a powerful speech on racial injustice during a peaceful protest in June in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Due to her evergrowing tennis platform, she said that she felt ‘responsible’ to speak up and to help ‘spread awareness’. 

She said: "I think I learned a lot about myself over this break.

"When I went to protest in the peaceful protest, I wasn't initially supposed to do a speech. They asked me like maybe two minutes before to do so.

"I would say why I felt calm is because of my grandmother. She's taught me a lot over the years. My grandmother was the first to integrate Seacrest High School in Florida. I learned a lot about her stories over the years, so I felt like that kind of prepared me for that moment.

"I also felt responsible since I do have a big platform, that it would be wrong of me to stay silent when this is obviously an issue going on. So I felt the need to use my platform to just spread awareness about the topic and educate people about it.

“I felt like that was when I was ready to actually speak out about it because I actually knew a lot about it.”

Gauff is set to return to competition for the first time in five months at WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington later today where she will face compatriot Caroline Dolehide. 

She added: "I think my goal for the rest of the year is to have fun competing again.

"I really enjoy competing because I think when I'm not so worried about results or ranking, I think that's when I play my best tennis.

“So really, this whole week and the whole training block has just been to continue to improve and when it's time to get the chance to play, just have fun on the court.”

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