In the wise words of Garbiñe Muguruza, “the racquet will talk,” and Coco Gauff’s racquet has certainly been doing its fair share of talking throughout her impressive 13-match winning streak, which now extends into the China Open on Monday.
As the reigning US Open champion, Coco Gauff’s journey took an interesting twist when she immersed herself in the culture of China before her first match. What surprised the tennis world even more was her revelation about dealing with a substantial number of detractors on her social media platforms, following her historic Grand Slam victory. Gauff openly discussed how this negativity has become an unexpected source of motivation during the most successful period of her career.
“I feel like my thought process is just different,” Gauff remarked after defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets, emphasizing that she filters her social media feeds to maintain some level of control. “I used to avoid Twitter altogether. In truth, I’m still not very active on Twitter. But sometimes you just get caught up scrolling,” she confessed, echoing sentiments expressed by Casper Ruud regarding the “wicked” nature of Twitter’s For You page. “The way the page is designed, based on the accounts you interact with, you end up seeing yourself. Since I’m deeply involved in tennis, those tweets about me, both positive and negative, come up.”
Remarkably, Gauff has been a topic of online discourse since well before her WTA debut at the tender age of 14. However, the discussions reached a fever pitch following her early exit from Wimbledon, prompting fans and pundits alike to question her long-term potential. Since that moment, she has lost just one match and has claimed titles in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, and Flushing Meadows, defeating world number one Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek along the way, effectively silencing her critics.
“I wouldn’t say that I actively seek out negativity,” Gauff clarified. “It’s more like I draw inspiration from it. I wouldn’t recommend this approach to everyone.”
Indeed, Coco Gauff’s remarks come at a time when there is an ongoing debate about the online harassment faced by players. Daria Saville, for instance, recently admitted to feeling compelled to disable all her notifications before stepping onto the court to avoid a deluge of negative comments.
“Some of those comments can get really out of hand,” Gauff acknowledged. “But, strangely enough, I seem to thrive on negativity. It’s odd. Many players dislike it. But for me, I’m incredibly stubborn. I enjoy arguing, and I relish the opportunity to prove people wrong.
“My agent and my team advised me not to respond to the negativity, so I let my racquet do the talking.”
With tickets already booked for the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles, Coco Gauff and her racquet are set to remain busy throughout the fall. Next on her agenda is a match against Petra Martic in the Beijing second round.