Tennis champ and frustrated Floridian Coco Gauff urges her peers to vote

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She’s the U.S. Open champion. One of the highest paid female athlete in the world. And a frustrated Floridian.

American tennis player Coco Gauff has never been afraid to use her voice.

Not when she delivered an impromptu speech at a Black Lives Matter rally at the age of 16. And not now at age 20 when she’s preparing to vote for the first time in a U.S. presidential election later this year.

Gauff, who will be among the favorites when the French Open starts on Sunday in Paris, addressed the current political climate in her home state during a recent interview with The Associated Press.

She noted that it’s “a crazy time to be a Floridian, especially a Black one at that.”

“We aren’t happy with the current state of our government in Florida, especially everything with the books and just the way our office operates,” Gauff said, referring to a two-year-long controversy over banning books from the state’s schools that started with a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis backtracked on the law last month, when he signed a bill narrowing its focus. He blamed liberal activists for abusing the law, not the citizens whose objections to certain books account for the majority of book removals from school libraries and classrooms.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to the youth and the community being outspoken,” Gauff said at the Italian Open last week. “So I encourage everyone to vote, and use your voice regardless of who you vote for. There’s no point in complaining (about) the political climate of the world if you don’t exercise your right to vote.”

Gauff has been speaking out on racial injustice and police brutality ever since that speech in 2020 in front of City Hall in her hometown of Delray Beach.

“I feel like sometimes in my generation, people think their vote doesn’t count,” Gauff said. “We should just all just use our voices and use the power that we have.”

Responding in an email when asked about Gauff’s comments, DeSantis’ office chose not to directly address Gauff’s concerns, and instead said the state is “thriving.”

Gauff is not campaigning for anyone in particular for the general election.

“I’ll leave who I vote to myself,” she said. “I’m not publicly backing any candidate.”

Still, Gauff remains a public figure in the Delray Beach community. In March, she unveiled refurbished courts at the public park where she played as a kid. And she’s been playing with the coordinates of those Pompey Park courts inscribed on the toes of her left tennis sneaker.

On the toes of her right sneaker is a quote from Gauff’s father, Corey: “You can change the world with your racket.”

Teen success

At the U.S. Open in September, Gauff became the first American teenager to win the country’s biggest tennis tournament since Serena Williams in 1999.

Helped by her title in New York, Gauff became the world’s top-earning female athlete last year with $22.7 million in…

Read More: Tennis champ and frustrated Floridian Coco Gauff urges her peers to vote 2024-05-21 16:27:38

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