Coco Gauff has vowed to use her disappointment over the return of strict abortion laws across America as “fuel” at Wimbledon over the next two weeks.
The 18-year-old world No12 arrives in SW19 as a serious contender for the women’s singles crown, having reached the final of the French Open last month.
On Friday she tweeted after the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, paving the way for states across America to implement strict anti-abortion laws not seen for nearly 50 years. “Today is a very sad day for our country I cannot believe once against history is repeating itself,” she wrote.
Speaking to the media at Wimbledon on Saturday, Gauff – who has used her platform to raise awareness of a range of social issues from police violence to gun control – said she would shut herself off from any online backlash and harness any emotion positively on court.
“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,” Gauff said. “During the tournament, I probably will shut the phone off and maybe not see so much.
“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.”
Gauff is hopeful that America’s anti-abortion legislation will eventually be reversed.
“I'm obviously disappointed about the decision made. 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.
“I just think that history repeating itself. 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 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.”
Gauff will play Romania’s world No51 Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the first round.