'I'm definitely ready to win one' - Coco Gauff speaks ahead of first Grand Slam singles final
Coco Gauff has been equally impressive in the press room as she has been on the court over the last two weeks of Roland Garros. Before she takes on world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland in Saturday's women's championship, take a look back at some of her best moments on the dais.
"My grandmother, she's always like, 'There's more to life than this. You just need to relax when you're out there.' I always brushed it over, like, 'You can't relax in these situations.' Now I look at it, I'm like, 'You're right, I can relax in these situations.' It's just a tennis match. It's not the end of the world. There's so many people going through so many like uncomfortable situations. Obviously being nervous is natural, but for me to think that winning a tennis match or losing a tennis match is the end of the world, I think just kind of shows what kind of privilege I have. I just took a step back and said, 'You know, this is just a tennis match.' Whatever happens, it happens. I think that's probably helped me being in that mindset." - on how she keeps perspective
"I don't think I consider myself a veteran. I mean, I do when I step on the court ... I feel like I've learned sooner how to handle myself in certain situations than other players have. I think I'm still learning day in and day out." - on her career so far
After winning her semifinal match against Italy's Martina Trevisan, Gauff wrote "Peace. End Gun Violence" on the camera and expanded upon her thoughts in her post-match interview with Jon Wertheim on Tennis Channel. On her willingness to address social issues in America, she told reporters:
"For me, it's kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting. 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 think I was maybe 14 or 13 when that happened, and still nothing has changed. I think that was just a message for the people back at home to watch and for people who are all around the world to watch. ... Hopefully it gets into the heads of people in office to hopefully change things."
"I really didn't know what I was going to write even moments walking to the camera, and it just felt right in that moment and to write that. I woke up this morning and I saw there was another shooting, and I think it's just crazy. I know that it's getting more attention now. ... This has been an issue, at least in my head, for a long time, and I definitely think there needs to be some reform put into place. I think now especially being 18 I've really been trying to educate myself around certain situations, because now I have the right to vote and I want to use that wisely."
"Since I was younger—I know I said this before—that my dad told me I could change the world with my racquet. He didn't mean that by like just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this. The first thing my dad said to me after I got off court, I'm proud of you and I love what you wrote on the camera. I think my parents support me when talking about issues like this."
"I'm a human first before I'm a tennis player. If I'm interested in this, I wouldn't even consider gun violence [to be] politics; I think that's just life in general. I don't think that's political at all. ... I'm not going to be an athlete forever. There is going to be a time when I retire and all this, and I'm still going to be a human. So of course I care about these topics. I think, if anything, sports gives you the platform to maybe make that message reach more people."
"It's something that I say all the time, just because I really feel like people -- you don't want to let other people limit your dreams. ... I think it's important that you don't put yourself into a box. So I always try to tell young kids that, to dream big, and you never know when your moment is going to happen." - on writing "Dream Big" on the camera after her quarterfinal victory
"I think that version was ready to win a slam, but I think she almost wanted it too much, that she put way too much pressure on herself. Now I'm definitely ready to win one but I'm not putting pressure on myself to win one. I think there's a fine line between believing in yourself and almost pushing yourself too much." - on the differences between her 15-year-old self and her current 18-year-old self.
"If I do lift the trophy, honestly, I don't think my life is going to change really. I know it sounds kind of bad to say that, but the people who love me are still going to love me regardless if I lift the trophy or not. I mean, obviously if I do, it will probably be more attention from the people around the world. But in general ... I'm not worried about how my life is going to change, because I really don't think it's going to change." - on keeping perspective if she wins the title
"She's super nice. I think that's something I really admire about her. I have known Iga—I don't know her well-well, but I have known her since she was probably ranked lower, and now that she's No. 1, I will say that nothing has really changed other than her tennis. But behind the scenes, she's as nice as I think you guys see in the press conferences. I think that's really important and rare to see, so I definitely congratulate her on that aspect. I think that for me, this final, I mean, I want it for myself, but I think I'm really happy to play her specifically, because I always wanted to play her in a final. I knew it was going to happen eventually—even in juniors, that it was going to happen—just from the way our games were both projecting. I just didn't think it would happen so soon." - on playing Iga Swiatek
Read more at usta.com: Gauff's run to the final, by the numbers
And Swiatek has been equally complimentary of Gauff. After beating Daria Kasatkina in her semifinal, the world No. 1 said:
"I'm pretty happy that she's doing well, because I think she's also had huge amount of pressure in her life; being always the youngest one and the one that is supposed to be the future, it must have been tough. I'm happy that she's doing well with that, because I'm sure that it took her a lot of energy to do it properly. ... From what I see on court, she's developing every year basically. When I see her, I tend to forget that she's 18. She's playing really consistent. She has consistent results. You can see her progressing, and I think that's the most important thing."
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