A number of tennis players recently spoke out against gun violence in light of the mass shooting incident that took place at an elementary school in Texas. French Open finalist Coco Gauff urged those in power to take the necessary steps and act against such violence, in a message during an on-court interview.
After the final, Gauff further highlighted the importance of the message, stating that sport is an important platform to spread key social messages.
While Gauff and a few others expressed their views and showed solidarity with those affected by the incident in the USA, a few tennis players have been directly affected by mass shooting incidents in the past.
Here's a look at three players whose lives were affected by such incidents:
#1 Naomi Osaka
In May, Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka faced a terrifying situation when she was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for the WBA World Lightweight title clash between Rolando Romero and Gervonta Davis.
Towards the end of the event, Osaka and others in attendance were left scrambling to safety as they heard gunshots being fired. Rumours were rife about an active shooter inside the stadium but the NYPD later confirmed that "no shots were fired." Osaka shared her account of the incident on Twitter, soon after.
"I was just in the Barclays center and suddenly I heard shouting and saw people running, then we were being yelled at that there was an active shooter and we had to huddle in a room and close the doors, I was so fu***ng petrified man," the four-time Grand Slam champion wrote.
Fortunately, everyone got out safely and the Japanese tennis player breathed a sigh of relief. In the aftermath of the incident, Osaka spoke about the difficult moments inside the arena and expressed shock at how often these incidents have been occurring.
#2 Andy Murray
Former World No.1 Andy Murray also expressed grief and anger at the incident in Texas. During a recent interview with the BBC, Murray recalled his own experience during the Dunblane Primary School shooting incident in Scotland, back in March 1996.
The Brit said that he heard an account from a survivor of the Texas incident, which was very similar to his own experience during the Dunblane tragedy. Murray was a student at the school where 16 students and a teacher were killed.
"I heard something on the radio the other day and it was a child from that school, you know, and I experienced a similar thing when I was at Dunblane and a teacher like, coming out and waving all of the children, like under tables and telling them to go and hide...And it was a kid telling exactly the same story about how she survived it," recalled Murray.
The British tennis great called for major changes after a disturbing uptick in mass shooting incidents in the last few years.
#3 Coco Gauff
The recent string of incidents in the US reminded Coco Gauff of the shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, where some of her friends narrowly escaped. Gauff recalled the terrifying event back when she was just 14 years old.
The American teenager highlighted that despite the incident taking place over four years ago, nothing has changed.
"For me, it’s kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting. I remember watching that whole experience pretty much firsthand, 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," said Gauff.
After her 2022 French Open singles semifinal, Gauff brought up the subject in her on-court interview and wrote a message on the camera, saying "end gun violence." The teenager wants to continue to use her ever-increasing influence to speak out against major issues.