American tennis player Coco Gauff became the youngest Grand Slam finalist in 18 years at the French Open on Thursday, and batted for ending gun violence in the United States.
She wrote "peace, end gun violence" on a courtside camera after the semi-final against Martina Trevisan (6-3, 6-1). Gauff will now face the world number 1 Iga Swiatek in the final on Saturday.
Gauff’s reaction came hours after a gunman had gone on the attack and killed at least 4 people at a hospital building in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the recent weeks, there have been a few incidents of mass shooting across the country.
Winning players at the French Open are invited to write messages on the courtside TV camera. Usually they are light-hearted, often bland declarations, but Gauff seized her chance to leave a more meaningful message. She hopes that the message "get into the heads of people in office to hopefully change things".
"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."
The tennis player also added that the message wasn’t a planned act. "It just felt right in that moment and to write that. I woke up this morning and I saw there was another shooting, and I think it's just crazy."
She also explained that the 17 student deaths in the Parkland school shooting in Florida in February 2018 had brought the matter in focus on a personal level as some of her close friends were there at the time.
"Luckily they were able to make it out of it. I just think it's crazy, I think I was maybe 13 or 14 when that happened, and still nothing has changed."
Gauff said that she would not back down from speaking on political and social issues now that she has passed her 18th birthday and has the right to vote. "Since I was younger, my dad told me I could change the world with my racquet. He didn't mean that by like just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this."
(With AFP inputs)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)