‘Had to Deal With a Lot of Stuff’- Citing Grandmother’s Deeply Troubled Past, Coco Gauff Opens Up on Her Exemplary ‘Kindness and Understanding’

Published 09/06/2023, 3:22 AM EDT

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America’s teenage sensation Coco Gauff reached her maiden US Open semi-final. She beat Jelena Ostapenko in just 68 minutes, stretching her win streak to 10 matches. But it was never easy for Gauff to reach this level. The determination, hard work, and drive to achieve define the teen’s journey from a 15-year-old who stunned Venus Williams to becoming a US Open semi-finalist, a few steps away from creating history. Inspired by her grandmother, Yvonne Lee, the teenager acquired the spirit to achieve more and set an example for aspiring citizens.

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At a very young age, Gauff mastered the art of standing up for herself and the right things. But Lee had to walk on a path of thorns to understand people, be kind, and inspire future generations. The mighty woman fought every obstacle to make the world a better place for people of color and spread kindness while embarking on that journey.

Coco Gauff reveals how her grandmother forged an inspiring path

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The French Open finalist uses her social media to voice her opinions, spread awareness, and inspire the world with her actions. Her maternal grandmother’s willingness and courage to go to school was the seed. She was the first Black person to go to the then-Seacrest High School. Lee was integrated into the school by Ruby Bridges, an American Civil Rights activist.

Talking about how Lee is an inspiration, Gauff said, “I think she’s probably “the” sole or one of the main reasons why I use my platform the way that I do and why I feel so comfortable speaking out.” 

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The teen recalled her granny’s humane reminder and said, “I have no problem doing the things that I do. She always reminds me that I’m a person first instead of an athlete.” 

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Bridges chose Lee to integrate 6 months after she joined the school, and a series of troubles followed. Gauff said, “…She had to deal with a lot of stuff…” But Lee faced them all like a warrior queen. Taking about the issues, Gauff revealed, ” …like, racial injustice. Her leading the way that she is and being so kind to everyone, regardless of their background, is something that I take inspiration from.” 

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The former doubles World No.1 further elaborated on how Lee’s life inspired her. Gauff pointed out the difference between making a point now and back in granny’s generation. The Cincinnati Masters winner disclosed the characteristics she inherited from Lee that define the 19-year-old.

America’s rising sensation not only tops in her game but also in altruism

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Gauff grew up in a much better world created by her grandmother, but there are issues that still need attention. The US Open’s 6th seed shared that irrespective of her agreement, she also likes to know others’ perspectives. The nurturing of a person plays a vital role in how they think, and the teenage star believes that ”they don’t know any other way.”

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Keeping this in mind, Gauff’s grandmother taught her to be kind and considerate towards others in any situation. The communication tools the present generation enjoys were far from imaginable in the 60s and 70s. Making a difference and changing a society’s core beliefs is no easy feat.

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The semi-finalist of Flushing Meadows said that tweeting and giving a speech is much easier than her grandmother did during the 60s. Now we know where Gauff’s perfect balance of tenderness and rough exterior comes from. The world is grateful for such DNA, which thrives on optimism, boldness, and hunger to be the change.

WATCH THIS STORY: ‘Was Rough Waking Up’ – Amid Scheduling Furor, Coco Gauff Speaks Up To Add Her Two Cents On A Controversial Subject

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Written by:

Krishna Priya

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Vadlamani Krishna Priya is a tennis writer at Essentially Sports. Pursuing her passion for storytelling, she has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Helped by her cousin who introduced her to the rules and regulations of the game during her childhood, Roger Federer matches became Priya's gateway to the world of tennis.
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Edited by:

Bhavani Singh

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