Coco Gauff, born Cori Dionne Gauff on March 13, 2004, in Delray Beach, Florida, is not just a rising star in the world of tennis but also an outspoken advocate for racial justice.
Her journey to prominence began when she defeated Venus Williams, one of her childhood idols, at the Wimbledon Championships at the tender age of 15. This victory marked the beginning of a remarkable career for this young American professional tennis player.
Gauff’s family background has played a significant role in shaping her into the athlete and person she is today. Born to Candi and Corey Gauff, both natives of Delray Beach, Florida, Coco was introduced to sports at a very young age. Her father, a former college basketball player at Georgia State University, later transitioned into a healthcare executive. Her mother, a former track and field athlete at Florida State University, worked as an educator. The influence of her parents’ athletic backgrounds is evident in Gauff’s exceptional talent and discipline on the court.
From the age of 10, Gauff honed her skills at a French academy run by a tennis pro who had spent years working with Serena Williams. By 13, she was the youngest U.S. Open junior girls finalist in history, and at 14, she became one of the youngest winners of the French Open junior girls tournament. Her serve, particularly her second serve, is considered her most remarkable attribute, setting her apart in women’s tennis.
However, Gauff’s impact extends beyond the tennis court. She has become a vocal leader in the movement for racial justice in America, using her social media platforms to share her message. A powerful speech she gave in Florida went viral, further establishing her as a force to be reckoned with, not just in tennis, but on societal issues as well.
“I was talking off the cuff and was really nervous,” Gauff told a news conference at that time. “But the message gets through when you’re speaking from your heart.
“I definitely think George Floyd opened a lot of people’s eyes but I feel this topic has been close to me ever since I was a kid.
“I was finally able to put it into words because to talk about this issue you need to be educated on the topic.”
Gauff credited her grandmother for empowering her to use her social media platform for the better causes.
“She’s one of the main reasons I use my platform the way I do & why I feel so comfortable speaking out. For those who don’t know, she was the 1st black person to go to Seacrest High School. She was chosen to integrate that high school. She had to deal with a lot of stuff. I think that happened 6 months after Ruby Bridges did her integration. She had to deal with a lot of things like racial injustice. Her leading the way she is & being so kind to everyone regardless of their background is something I take inspiration from. That’s why I always say I like to know everyone’s perspective. Some people are raised in a certain environment & they don’t know any other way. She taught me to approach every situation with kindness & understanding. For her to go through what she did during that time.. I think what I do.. like putting out a tweet or saying a speech is so easy compared to that. She always reminds me that I’m a person first instead of an athlete.”
Despite her youth, Gauff has shown maturity and authenticity in her activism. Her passionate speeches and social media posts reflect her commitment to fighting for change. She encourages others, regardless of the size of their platform, to use their voices to demand change. This activism, coupled with her impressive tennis career, makes Coco Gauff a compelling figure in both sports and social justice.