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HomeSportCoco Gauff Named Among Time's Women of the Year

Coco Gauff Named Among Time’s Women of the Year

US Open champion Coco Gauff says she is committed to fighting for equality and justice and hopes she’ll ultimately be seen as “on the right side of history”, after being named as one of Time magazine’s women of the year on Wednesday.

Gauff has been outspoken from a young age, and grew up with activism engrained in her DNA, passed on from her grandmother Yvonee Lee Odom, who desegregated her high school in Delray Beach in the early 1960s.

As a 16-year-old, Gauff stood up in a Black Lives Matter rally and gave a speech and earlier this week in Dubai, the now 19-year-old told UAE’s The National newspaper she was advocating for peace in Gaza.

“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,” said Gauff, who won her Dubai last-16 tie on Wednesday against Karolina Pliskova.

Gauff said she felt “honored” to be named on Time’s list of Women of the Year and wants to follow in the footsteps of tennis legends like Billie Jean King, Althea Gibson, and Venus Williams, who have all fought for equality across different generations.

“I like to say I’m more than a tennis player. I feel like this sport is very popular in advocating for equality and justice. I feel comfortable doing that,” Gauff told reporters in Dubai.

The world number three said she wasn’t too concerned about any backlash she might face for speaking her mind, irrespective of the topic, adding: “My goal is to tell my grandkids that I was on the right side of history. That’s why I’m not too worried about that.”

Gauff battles past Pliskova

On the court, Gauff snapped Pliskova’s 11-match winning streak, claiming a hard-fought 2-6 6-4 6-3 win to reach a second consecutive Dubai quarter-final.

A champion in Cluj and semi-finalist in Doha, where she handed Iga Swiatek a walkover, Pliskova hadn’t lost a match since her Australian Open first-round exit last month, picking up 11 victories in 15 days across three countries.

Gauff, who won Auckland at the start of the year and made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, lost her opener in Doha last week and overcame a shaky start against Pliskova to reach her third quarter-final of the season. With the help of eight double faults from Gauff’s racquet, Pliskova scooped the opening set in 30 minutes.

Gauff had an extended argument with the umpire Pierre Bacchi in the second set at 2-6, 4-2, deuce, complaining that he made a late call to incorrectly overrule her serve then refused to award her the point, despite Pliskova missing the return well before the late call was made.

Gauff repeatedly asked for the supervisor to come to the court, but Bacchi wouldn’t relent. After failing to convince him, Gauff ended the five-minute discussion and held serve for a 5-2 advantage.

Pliskova saved four set points on the Gauff serve and broke for 4-5 but the American was unnerved and grabbed the next game to take the match into a decider.

A crucial break for Gauff in the eighth game of the final set was enough for the third seed to complete a tough win in one hour and 53 minutes and set up a quarter-final against Anna Kalinskaya.

“I don’t usually advocate that hard for things unless I’m 100 percent sure. I don’t want to get the reputation with the refs from US Open to here,” said Gauff, referring to an argument she had with the official during her US Open first-round match last summer.

When told she was right about Bacchi’s late call, Gauff said: “Okay, so I guess is he going to apologize? I’ll let you know.”

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