Coco Gauff addresses social media abuse, times when she was 'hurt' by it

Gauff's opens up on dealing with and overcoming social media abuse.

by Dzevad Mesic
Coco Gauff addresses social media abuse, times when she was 'hurt' by it
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Coco Gauff reveals she used to take negative comments and insults to heart because she believed that it was "a personal thing" and that she was "a target" but it all changed after she realized that she wasn't the only one experiencing that on the Tour. 

Over the last several months, top-ranked American female tennis player Gauff has been pretty open about her experience and battle with social media abuse. 

Most notably, Gauff sent a message to her haters and doubters shortly after becoming a Grand Slam champion at the 2023 US Open. At the time, Gauff warned their doubters that she had read their comments and knew their names and that their comments fueled her great US Open run. 

On Thursday, Gauff overcame Yua Yuan 6-4 6-3 to progress into the Indian Wells semifinal. After the match, the American - who turned 20 on Wednesday - was asked about social media negativity and her using it as a motivation. 

"Yeah, it definitely was a thing in the past where I would take the comments to heart. I started on tour at 15, and, you know, went from overwhelming positive response to, you know, now there's pressure that you have to win and to where every loss was negative comments," Gauff said.

"Honestly, I didn't know anything about that as a junior, didn't know anything about betters, to be honest, didn't realize how many people bet on the sport and how nasty the comments can get.

"I was taking them to heart because I didn't know other players were experiencing it as well. I thought it was just a target thing. Then I realized almost every player or pretty much every pro player deals with it in some type of way. I took it not personal."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel

Gauff on learning to be fueled by negative comments

Since players pretty much receive social media abuse on all platforms, Gauff knew that the only way was to delete her social media accounts or otherwise she was going to receive negative messages and insults. Then, the 20-year-old American figured out that if she was going to read negative messages and insults, she might as well use it to her strength. 

"Then, you know, I'm the type of person, you're going to see it anyways unless you, like, turn off your phone. I like getting into social media, as you said. It's just like you either use it to help you or use it to hurt you or completely ignore it, and ignoring it wasn't an option. You see it, so I just use it to help me.

"I think you just have to make that choice for yourself and see what works best for you."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Michael Owens

Gauff on 'a bee invasion' in Indian Wells 

On Thursday, Gauff's match started around the same time as Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev. But when the American's match finished, Alcaraz and Zverev weren't even close to finishing the match. 

Less than three games into the match, a swarm of bees found their way onto Stadium 1. After local beekeepers came to the rescue, a lengthy pause proceeded as they needed nearly two hours to safely remove the bees from the court. Before the stoppage, 20-year-old Alcaraz received a bee sting in his forehead. 

When asked about it, Gauff said she wasn't aware of the situation until after she finished her match and also described it as "the craziest thing" she has seen happen on a tennis court. 

"I did not know about the bee situation until after the match," Gauff said.

"But that was crazy. I've never seen anything like that. Did Alcaraz actually get stung? Oh, he did. I heard that. I saw the video of him trying to, like, run away. I said he wasn't fast enough. He's a fast guy on the court, but I think he was trying to ask for clarification on what was going on. I would have just time violation, just leave (smiling).

"Yeah, that's the craziest thing I've ever seen happen at a tennis court, and hopefully it will never happen again, at least not to me (smiling)."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Gauff is set to battle against world No. 9 Mara Sakkari for a place in the Indian Wells final. When Gauff and Sakkari meet on Friday, it is going to be their eighth match. 

Going into their Indian Wells match, Sakkari owns a 4-3 head-to-head record over Gauff. However, it should be noted that the American won their last two meetings in Washington and Beijing last year. 

Gauff has never been to an Indian Wells final, while Sakkari reached the final in the desert two years ago. 

Coco Gauff