By Karolos Grohmann
PARIS -American teenager Coco Gauff appealed for an end to gun violence in the United States on Thursday after she beat Italian Martina Trevisan to reach the French Open final.
In a message written on an on-court camera at the end of the match, the 18-year-old wrote “Peace End Gun Violence” followed by a heart.
“I think I am in a mind now like it does not matter,” Gauff said when asked about pressure ahead of Saturday’s final — her first in a Grand Slam — against top seed Iga Swiatek.
“Yeah it’s a Grand Slam final but there are so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the United States, a lot of stuff is happening right now. I am not going to stress over a tennis match.”
The Unites States has experienced a number of firearms violence and mass shootings in recent days.
These include four people fatally shot at a Tulsa medical building in Oklahoma on Wednesday as well as the May 24 attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers and an attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in which 10 people died.
Gauff said gun violence had affected her personally because she had friends who survived the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“For me, it’s kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting,” she said.
“I remember watching that whole experience like pretty much first hand, seeing and having friends go through that whole experience. Luckily, they were able to make it out of it. I just think it’s crazy, I think I was maybe 14 or 13 when that happened, and still nothing has changed.”
The massacre left 17 students and staff members dead.
“I woke up this morning and I saw there was another shooting, and I think it’s just crazy,” Gauff said in reference to the shooting in Tulsa.
“I think that was just a message (I wrote) for the people back at home to watch and for people who are all around the world to watch,” Gauff said.
“Hopefully, it gets into the heads of people in office to hopefully change things.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, editing by Ed Osmond)