18-year-old Coco Gauff and 21-year-old Iga Swiatek are role models for not just budding tennis players, but also many young people around the world. On separate occasions over the last couple of days, both have used their voices to convey important social messages, and the teenager believes that is the need of the hour.
During her on-court speech after winning the French Open final against Gauff, Swiatek sent across a message of solidarity for the war-affected in Ukraine. Earlier, after her semifinal win, Gauff did something similar, speaking out against gun violence in the US.
The American teenager believes sport is an important platform to appeal to people across the world, given the huge following athletes receive.
Speaking at a press conference after the Roland Garros final, Coco Gauff shared her views on the subject.
"I think in general, I think using sports as a platform is important. I feel like, I don't know how many people watch the final or how many people watch my semifinal match, but I'm sure it's in the hundreds of thousands, so that message reached that many people. Between all the retweets and all that, it reaches even more people," Gauff said, when asked of her and Swiatek's gestures.
Gauff admitted that much will not change with a message, but at the same time she aims to use her influential voice to appeal to those who can take action against the injustice happening in the world.
"I think that it's important that we mention these things. You know, I even saw some messages, Oh, writing something isn't going to end it. I agree. It's not about writing a message just to end it, it's not going to stop on the spot, I agree," Gauff said, adding, "But for me, it's about influencing people and influencing the leaders that are in office and leaders around the world maybe to hear that message."
The teenager further praised Swiatek for conveying a message on the Ukraine war, despite going through a wide range of emotions having just won a Grand Slam tournament.
"I wouldn't say anything if I didn't think it was going to influence anybody. Also with Iga, I think it's wonderful she brought that up in her speech. I mean, there is so much emotions going on during the awards ceremony, so for her to bring that up, I thought that was really nice and thoughtful of her," Gauff said.
"Super proud of myself" - Coco Gauff on her unforgettable 2022 French Open campaign
Despite being outplayed in the final, Coco Gauff made a big statement with her performances throughout the 2022 French Open. She did not drop a set in her six matches before the final, beating big players en route.
Gauff is proud of her campaign, and vowed to come back even stronger after learning from the experience.
"Yeah, I'm super proud of myself. Feeling a lot of emotions right now. A mix of happiness and sadness. I'm going to take this experience and hopefully learn from it and get better," Gauff said.
The 18-year-old still has a shot at winning silverware at Roland Garros. Gauff and fellow American Jessica Pegula will play the women's doubles final against the French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic on Sunday.
This is Coco Gauff's second appearance in a Grand Slam doubles final. At the 2021 US Open, Gauff partnered with Caty McNally and reached the final, falling short at the last hurdle. She will hope to get third time lucky in a Grand Slam final (singles/doubles) on Sunday.