Coco Gauff makes TIME’s 2024 Women of the Year list


Nineteen-year-old Coco Gauff has been named to TIME’s annual Women of the Year list, a prestigious honor recognizing exceptional leaders striving for a more equitable world. The reigning US Open champion is not only the youngest woman on this esteemed list but also the only athlete, a testament to her impactful activism and advocacy.

Coco Gauff

Born into a family with a strong history of activism, Gauff’s perspective has been shaped by her grandmother, who was the first Black student at her high school in Delray Beach, Florida, back in 1961. “My goal is to tell my grandkids that I was on the right side of history,” the young tennis player boldly points out.

Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Gauff took to social media to express her outrage and participated in a protest, using her platform to amplify the voices of those fighting against injustice. Her commitment to activism is deeply personal, as she stated, “It was to the point where I was crying about it, because I felt like I had to say something.” Addressing the crowd in Delray Beach, she said: “If you are choosing silence, you’re choosing the side of the oppressor.”

The young athlete emphasizes that while she has her own thoughts and opinions, her status as a prominent public figure adds an additional responsibility to leverage her fame for positive purposes. In a recent interview with Egyptian journalist Reem Abulleil, Gauff openly addressed the conflict between Israel and Palestine, expressing her solidarity with the suffering civilians:

“I feel like it would be ignorant to say I’m not aware, I’m very aware of everything that’s going on in Gaza. For me, I always say I pray for peace in the region. And I really don’t like what’s going on. For me, it’s sometimes troubling to live the life I live, in knowing that so many kids and innocent people are dying on both ends, but especially in what’s going on in Gaza and the occupation that’s happening…

“In my position, I know there’s not much I can do other than raise awareness and donate. So that’s what I encourage everyone to do and just pray for peace and demand peace and demand that this stops happening.”

“I feel like it’s very ignorant to say you’re not aware because it is everywhere, you see it on the news and I think it’s important for us as privileged civilians to do our research and just continuing to demand our leaders to make change and I will never not advocate for that. And I do advocate for peace and I advocate for the thousands, I think it’s almost like I said millions at this point, of kids and innocent people being killed for a conflict that I feel like shouldn’t be happening.”

For Gauff, activism is a natural extension of her beliefs and upbringing. She recalls her father telling her, “You can change the world with your racquet,” a mantra that has stuck with her throughout her career. Whether on or off the court, Gauff remains dedicated to using her platform to advocate for equality and justice.

Talking to reporters at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Gauff reflected on her upbringing and the influence of tennis legends like Billie Jean King, Venus Williams, and Althea Gibson, saying that women’s tennis is very successful in advocating for equality and justice.

Gauff’s inclusion in the Women of the Year list alongside other notable activists, scientists, and artists is a testament to her impact and influence. She will attend a celebratory gala in Los Angeles next month before competing at the BNP Paribas Open. (via WTA, photo: Jimmie48)


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