Gauff talks serving issues and standing up against racial injustices

Gauff talks serving issues and standing up against racial injustices

The 16-year-old posted a major upset over Johanna Konta to kick off her Roland Garros campaign.

In her main draw-debut at Roland Garros, Coco Gauff brought an unwavering focus, and once again showed that even though certain aspects of her game may not be solid at times, her determination to win can see her through the rough patches. 

On Sunday night, the 16-year-old posted a convincing 6-3, 6-3 score to upset No. 9 seed Johanna Konta. Despite the cold and windy conditions that surrounded court Suzanne-Lenglen, Gauff managed to weather the storm.

Even though Gauff came through in straight sets, she had serving issues, striking 12 double faults over the course of the one hour and 43 minute affair. She became frustrated by the bad-ball ball tosses she hit every so often. 

"I was just trying to tell myself to focus on being patient and catching the ball over and over again," Gauff said in her presser following the match. "I know it gets annoying but it's windy, you can't help it."

Besides the windy conditions, the 16-year-old had no issues with the cold temperatures, and she wasn't applying any unnecessary pressure or allowing the weight of the moment to get to her. The young American's dad, who is also her coach, provided helpful insight just before she took the court that changed her entire perspective about competing on the major stage. 

"My dad told me something in the warm up, he was telling me, you're living your dreams so just enjoy it and have fun," Gauff said."I mean his goal was to become an NBA player and he didn't make it. So, he told me you're living your dream and not everybody gets to do that, so just have fun on the court and that really changed my perspective."


 Julien Crosnier / FFT

Gauff will be carrying over this same mentality into her second-round match against Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan. Along with enjoying the game, she also learned that wearing leggings in the cold conditions works pretty well. 

"I'm pretty sure this is my first pro tournament and maybe tournament in general playing in weather like this," Gauff said. "It was definitely a new adjustment I had to make in the match, so now I know what works for me. All the way down to the clothes, I wasn't going to wear the leggings in my match and at the last second I put them on. So now I know that works for me."

Before closing the interview, the world No. 51 opened up about reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka's stance against racial inequalities in New York and standing up for equality in general. 

"I know speaking on that subject is very mentally draining," Gauff stated. "So, for her to do that and continue to win, it just shows how mentally tough she is. I think it spread a lot of awareness and I think it got a lot of conversations starting, and especially in tennis and it being watched all around the world."

The teenager also urges the world to stop seeing it as a black and white problem, but instead to view it as all colors, backgrounds and ethnicities standing up against racism and fighting systemic issues and discrimination together. 

"I think it's just more powerful if everyone comes together and I think that's why the movement now really made the worldwide headlines," Gauff stated. "Because not only Black people were out protesting, but it was also allies from other races.

Gauff has now claimed all of her first-round matches at each major event.