Thursday, June 20, 2024

‘We aren’t happy’: women’s tennis star Coco Gauff criticizes political state of Florida

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Coco Gauff, the No. 3-ranked women’s tennis player in the world and winner of the 2023 U.S. Open, spoke out about the political environment in her native Florida, saying it’s “a crazy time to be a Floridian, especially a Black one at that.”

In an interview with the Associated Press that published Tuesday night, Gauff expressed pointed criticism about some of the policy decisions made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, including a state law ratified in 2023 that allows for books to be challenged and removed from public libraries.

“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 told the Associated Press last week from the Italian Open in Rome.

Gauff, 20, has used her voice and platform to express her opinions about sociopolitical matters. In June 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests that emerged from the killing of George Floyd, Gauff – as a 16-year-old – delivered a speech at a protest in Florida that was a call to action.

Now, Gauff, who is eligible to vote for the first time in a Presidential election, is encouraging all her supporters to mobilize and register before November.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to the youth and the community being outspoken,” Gauff continued. “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, who was born in Delray Beach, Florida, declined to publicly back any candidate in the interview.

“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.”

In an email to the Associated Press, Jeremy Redfern, the press secretary for the DeSantis’ office, rejected Gauff’s comments and said “Florida is thriving.”

Gauff is expected to be one of the top competitors for the singles women’s championship at the French Open, which begins Sunday in Paris.

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