Frustrated Floridian tennis champ Coco Gauff urges her peers to vote

She is the reigning champion of the U.S. Open, one of the most highly paid female athletes globally, and an exasperated resident of Florida.

American tennis player Coco Gauff has always been unafraid to express herself.

At the age of 16, she captivated the crowd with an impromptu speech at a Black Lives Matter rally. Now, at 20 years old, she is eagerly anticipating her first opportunity to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election later this year.

During a recent interview with The Associated Press, Gauff, who will be among the favorites when the French Open starts on Sunday in Paris, shared her thoughts on the current political climate in her home state.

“It’s an absolutely chaotic period for us Floridians, especially for us Black Floridians,” she remarked.

“We’re not pleased with the current state of our government in Florida, particularly the issues surrounding book banning and the overall functioning of our office,” Gauff expressed his discontent. He specifically referred to a contentious two-year-long controversy that began with a bill signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, which resulted in the banning of books from the state’s schools.

Last month, DeSantis had a change of heart regarding the law and signed a bill that narrowed its scope. He shifted blame onto liberal activists, claiming that they were the ones abusing the law, rather than the citizens who raised objections to specific books and led to the majority of book removals from school libraries and classrooms.

Gauff emphasized the importance of young people and the community speaking up and using their voice during an interview at the Italian Open. She encouraged everyone to exercise their right to vote, regardless of their political preferences, stating that it is pointless to complain about the political climate without taking action. Gauff believes that voting is a powerful way to make a difference and have a say in shaping the world.

Ever since delivering that powerful speech in 2020 at City Hall in her hometown of Delray Beach, Gauff has been actively raising her voice against racial injustice and police brutality.

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“I think that sometimes in my generation, there is a belief that our vote doesn’t really matter,” Gauff expressed. “But we should all recognize the importance of using our voices and harnessing the power that we possess.”

In response to Gauff’s comments, DeSantis’ office opted not to directly address her concerns but instead emphasized the state’s thriving status in an email reply.

Gauff is not endorsing any specific candidate for the upcoming general election.

“I prefer to keep my vote private,” she stated. “I don’t want to publicly endorse any candidate.”

Despite her growing fame, Gauff continues to be a beloved member of the Delray Beach community. In a heartwarming gesture, she recently revealed renovated courts at the local public park where she spent her childhood playing tennis. As a tribute to her roots, Gauff even has the coordinates of the Pompey Park courts engraved on the toes of her left tennis sneaker.

Gauff’s right sneaker proudly bears a powerful quote from her father, Corey: “You can change the world with your racket.”

Teen success

In September, Gauff made history at the U.S. Open as she became the first American teenager to win the country’s most prestigious tennis tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.

Last year, Gauff claimed the title of the world’s highest-earning female athlete, racking up an impressive $22.7 million in prize money and endorsements, thanks to her outstanding performance in New York. This remarkable achievement was reported by Sportico, a renowned sports-business outlet.

At just 15 years old, she made history as the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon, and went on to impress further by reaching the fourth round in her Grand Slam debut in 2019. Her talent and determination continued to shine as she reached her first major final at the 2022 French Open, ultimately finishing as the runner-up to Iga Swiatek.

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Snails and hot chocolate

Gauff believes that she still has some unfinished business in Paris, especially after her loss to Swiatek at Roland Garros in 2022.

Paris holds a special place in her heart as her favorite city.

At the tender age of 10, she embarked on her first journey to a city she had never been to before. The purpose of her visit was to attend a training at the prestigious academy, which was managed by none other than Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ former coach.

In 2018, she achieved a remarkable milestone in her career by winning her first junior Grand Slam title at the French Open.

“I developed a deep affection for the city when I first visited it at a young age. The experience was incredibly enchanting, and that sense of magic has remained with me,” Gauff expressed.

Even though she is still in the process of learning French, Gauff has been fascinated with Parisian cuisine. “I’ve been trying to learn French since I was 10 years old, and hopefully, I’ll get there one day,” she said.

What is her preferred cuisine when she is in Paris?

“I absolutely love croissants, they are a must-have for me. Escargot is another dish that I surprisingly enjoy. I know it can be a hit or miss for some people, but personally, I don’t mind the snails at all,” Gauff shared. “Crème brûlée is a delightful treat, and I also enjoy foie gras. And let’s not forget the amazing hot chocolate they serve in Paris.”

Meeting Zendaya

Zendaya, the lead actress in the tennis film “Challengers,” has yet to have a long-awaited meeting.

Brad Gilbert, Gauff’s coach, served as Zendaya’s tennis consultant for the movie. The actress expressed her desire to meet Coco recently.

Gauff expressed that the decision is now in her hands, stating that both of them have busy schedules. She believes that the meeting will eventually take place, however, the timing remains uncertain.

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Gauff received a delightful surprise after her U.S. Open victory – Zendaya sent her flowers to congratulate her. This heartwarming gesture was made possible by Gilbert, who shared Gauff’s home address with the actress.

Could Gilbert potentially facilitate a meeting between Zendaya and Gauff?

With a chuckle, Gauff expressed her belief that Zendaya has a greater influence than Brad.

Olympic goals

At Roland Garros this year, the talented Gauff is not only vying for the French Open title, but also setting her sights on multiple gold medals at the Paris Olympics.

Gauff is filled with extra motivation as she missed the Tokyo Games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Consequently, tennis will be held at Roland Garros during the Olympics.

Gauff expressed her ambition of winning a medal in the Olympics, placing it at the top of her goal board. She dreams of competing in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles events. While she values Grand Slam victories highly, she emphasized that a gold medal in doubles would hold significant importance for her. Gauff’s ultimate goal is to secure a medal in the Olympics, showcasing her strong desire for success in the international sporting event.

“It’s a special connection that I can relate to, similar to a track athlete or a gymnast,” Gauff commented.

Gauff has no intention of permanently residing in the Athletes Village as she heard that it is quite far from Roland Garros. However, she does have a desire to meet other Olympians from various sports.

Simone Biles leads the pack, followed by Sha’Carri Richardson and Katie Ledecky.

Gauff also expressed her admiration for WNBA players, suggesting that even some of them could make the USA team. She specifically mentioned Caitlin Clark as a potential candidate, expressing excitement at the prospect.

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