Coco Gauff has mocked a “hype post” created by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) as “hideous” as the US Open champion said the cartoon made her and her fellow American players look “so ugly”.
The social media post by the USTA depicted the seeded American players at this month’s Australian Open in the style of the Wild Thornberrys cartoon but was swiftly deleted.
On Sunday, the US Open champion and world No 4 reacted to the social media post on her Instagram story and said it was the “worst thing I’ve ever seen”.
"Like a caricature artist decided to make [us] all look like hideous looking people,” Gauff said.
"The art style is cool for a cartoon show but not for a hype post. Foul."
The 19-year-old added: “Y’all I know it is a cartoon show but I think I would prefer to be drawn as a Bratz art style and not this. This makes us all look so ugly.”
Oh Coco did not like this usta cartoon post loool pic.twitter.com/k3jEdmtw6m
— Melanie Lautrup (@melanie_lautrup) January 14, 2024
The American’s doubles partner and world No 5 Jessica Pegula voiced her agreement, replying to Gauff: ““Hahahahhaha we are ugly af,” she wrote.
Rising American star Ben Shelton, who was also depicted in the cartoon, added: “I better not find out who did this.”
American players Sebastian Korda, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Emma Navarro were also featured in the post.
On Monday Gauff said her initial posts were meant to be funny, not serious, but she reiterated that the image had made all the Americans look bad.
"People thought I was being serious, that I was actually mad with it," Gauff said. "And I realize TikTok humor is very different than Twitter. I was like, no, I wasn't mad. We looked awful (smiling)."
Gauff said Shelton had posted first about the story, then Pegula got involved, texting her about it. "We were just laughing at each person, we were laughing at Sebi (Korda)'s, I think Ben and Sebi had the worst ones.
"I know it was from a cartoon, and the artist did great with the cartoon. I just don't know if I want myself drawn as that art style . . . but we did not look good at all."
Gauff said she had been sitting in her room all day on Sunday so had ample time to comment on the USTA post.
"I was just bored and commenting and making fun of it, because everybody else was making fun of us, how bad we looked," she said. "Then, yeah, I saw on Twitter people thought I was serious, but I wasn't. It was all in jokes.
"I did DM the USTA account and I was, like, what was the thought process behind this, as a joke. They never responded. I got left on read by USTA, which sucks. But, you know, it is what it is."
Gauff began her Australian Open campaign on Monday as she brushed aside Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-3 6-0 in exactly an hour, winning nine games in a row to set up a second-round clash with countrywoman Caroline Dolehide.
The match was Gauff’s first at a grand slam after her US Open win in September and afterwards she said: "I felt good. I was a little bit nervous coming in today. Probably you could tell. I was able to just calm down and then play, not my best, but good tennis from that point."
Includes reporting from the Associated Press