Coco Gauff continues to be a force both on and off the tennis court.
Not only did the 19-year-old tennis player win her first Grand Slam at the US Open. But she’s also shaping the culture with her work as an actress.
Gauff made a cameo on The CW show “All American: Homecoming” earlier this year.
“All American: Homecoming” is a spinoff of the original “All American” series. The “Homecoming” spinoff series follows the lives of several college students attending a fictional historically Black college in Atlanta, Georgia, called Bringston University.
And the tennis spinoff is proof of the cultural impact of Black tennis superstars like Gauff, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams — seeing that several of the show’s lead characters are members of the school’s women’s tennis team.
In a highly talked about episode from Season 2 of the show titled “Stand Up for Something,” the Bringston University women’s tennis team enlists Gauff’s help after being racially profiled during a traffic stop on the way to a match.
In the episode, the players forfeit their season after they miss their tennis match due to police unwarrantedly searching their belongings for drugs and weapons. The women are later offered the chance to continue playing. But there’s a catch — they have to sign NDAs and stop talking about the police stop. The team members refuse and instead choose to spread their message with Gauff’s help.
The storyline for the episode was partly inspired by the experience of the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team during a traffic stop in Georgia in 2022. And the series’ co-showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll recently told Deadline about how special it was to have Gauff appear on the show.
”Honestly, it was a dream come true,” said Okoro Carroll. “We’re such big Coco fans here. It was one of those things where when we were talking about the episode, we were thinking, ‘If something like this happened in real life for a tennis team, who are our tennis players that we have out there right now who would stand up and fight?’ We were looking at it like, ‘Oh, it would be so great if someone like Coco, who is their age, who is out there killing it in the game right now, who understands the sacrifice it takes to be 18 to 20 playing the sport at that level… what that would look like as someone like that came to us. It was such a pipe dream of like, well, it doesn’t hurt to ask.”
“Coco was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was like the fastest yes, and God bless her because she had a tournament and was figuring it out in between,” Carroll continued. “It was such a wonderful experience and they loved the voice we were giving to Black female tennis players. It truly ended up being this beautiful miracle that worked out.”
Photo by Shutterstock/Lev Radin