American tennis star Coco Gauff has become the youngest player to reach the final of a French Open in 21 years, and has used her global platform to speak out against gun violence in the United States.
18-year-old Gauff won the French Open semi-final against Martina Tervisan in straight sets on Friday. She’s also now the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at age 17, in 2004.
After her semi-final victory, Gauff didn’t spent much time dwelling on her personal success, instead speaking out on gun violence in the United States and the toll it has taken on young people.
“I think I am in a mind now like it does not matter,” Gauff said. “Yeah it’s a grand slam final but there are so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the United States, a lot of stuff is happening right now. I am not going to stress over a tennis match.”
Gauff spoke about how gun violence has affected her and her friends, and why there needs to be reform at a national level.
“For me, it’s kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting,” she said, referring to a 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida
“I remember watching that whole experience like pretty much first-hand, 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 also used her time in the spotlight to write a message on a camera: “Peace. End Gun Violence”.
“I woke up this morning and I saw there was another shooting and I think it’s just crazy,” she said.
“That was just a message [I wrote on the camera] for people at home to watch, and for people who are all around the world to watch.
“Hopefully it gets into the heads of people in office to change things.”
Gauff is now due to play in the French Open final at Roland Garros on Saturday against World No.1 Iga Swiatek.