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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday, June 26, 2022

Coco Gauff may be the youngest player in either singles draw at Wimbledon, but the 18-year-old is wise beyond her years and unafraid to speak her mind about social issues. In the past two years we have seen Gauff use her platform to speak on several social issues, and she often cites the influence of Martin Luther King Jr.

Tennis Express

The American likes to post inspirational quotes of King, such as “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

And she has not been shy about living up to the ideal. Two years ago, Gauff was a key agent of change in the wake of George Floyd’s death in January of 2020.

This weekend Gauff expressed her views on the decision of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overtune Roe v Wade, which leaves states free to outlaw abortion.

“I'm obviously disappointed about the decision made,” Gauff said. “Really for me, obviously I feel bad for future women and women now, but I also feel bad for those who protested for this, I don't even know how many years ago, but protested for this, are alive to see that decision to be reversed.”

On January 22, 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional, but that decision was reversed on Friday.

As protests ring out across the United States, Gauff says she feels the decision is a step back for the country.

“I just think that history repeating itself,” she said. “I feel like, I mean, at least from my reading, researching, because I do like history, I just feel like just having this decision reversed, I feel like we're almost going backwards.

“Not only does this decision kind of mark regarding reproductive rights, I feel like it also kind of puts a lead-way into maybe reverse other things that we worked -- I wouldn't say me personally, but people in the past worked so hard to reverse.

But the American still believes that there is hope, which explains why she has chosen to put herself out there as a voice of support on the issue.

“I still want to encourage people to use their voice and not feel too discouraged about this because we can definitely make a change, and hopefully change will happen,” she said.

It’s a lot to handle for a young person that has just graduated high school. Gauff has been thrust into the sporting limelight ever since she was a tour de force on the junior circuit at the age of 13, and she has handled herself with grace and dignity from day 1.

After reaching her first Grand Slam final earlier this month at Roland-Garros, the American sets her sights on achieving a career-best result at Wimbledon. She will face Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the first round at Wimbledon, where she is the No.11 seed.

Speaking out and advocating helps fuel Gauff's inner fire

Gauff says her interest in advocating for rights does not get in the way of her stated mission as a tennis player. In fact, she says it fuels her

"I just feel like my whole life I've always balanced that kind of aspect," she said. "I mean, obviously now I have a much bigger platform than I did when I was younger, but it was still issues that I was talking about. I would say my family just grew up and raised me like that." 

The teenager says she has no problem tuning out the world when she's playing at the world's biggest tennis events.

"Regarding balancing, I've always done a pretty good job of separating the world from tennis when I'm on the court, because on the court, it's like my escape from everything. During the tournament, I probably will shut the phone off and maybe not see so much," she said.

"The same thing happened in French Open where I was talking about gun violence. So I definitely don't think it affects my performance. I feel like it fuels me more because I know the more I win, the later I get into tournaments, the more people are watching, the more people that can hear my message. I feel like I use that almost as fuel to do better."