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Coco Gauff clarifies she ‘wasn’t mad’ at cartoon depiction

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MELBOURNE, Australia — World No. 4 Coco Gauff has said she “wasn’t mad” about a cartoon posted by the United States Tennis Association, after her negative reaction to the hype post went viral overnight.

The cartoon, which was posted on Sunday (local time) in the lead-up to the first day of the Australian Open, depicted Gauff and her fellow seeded Americans as characters in the animated television show “The Wild Thornberrys,” which aired from 1998 to 2004. It was later deleted by the USTA after Gauff highlighted the cartoon on both X and Instagram, saying it was “foul” and had made her and her compatriots “look so ugly.”

But in her news conference following her straight-sets first-round win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Gauff clarified she “wasn’t mad” at the post and the reaction to her comments was overblown.

“Oh, people thought I was being serious, that I was actually mad with it?” she asked. “I realize TikTok humor is very different than Twitter. I saw somebody posted, like, there’s no way she’s that [upset] over it.

“I was like, no, I wasn’t mad. We looked awful. And actually, I saw Ben [Shelton] post first on his story. Then I DM’d Ben immediately and I was like, ‘What is this?’ Then Jess [Pegula] started texting me. We were just, like, laughing at each person, we were laughing at [Sebastian Korda’s depiction], I think Ben and Sebi had the worst ones.”

The post featured Gauff, Pegula, Shelton, Korda, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Emma Navarro. Gauff said the artists “did great with the cartoon” but added that she doesn’t know if she wants herself “drawn as that art style.”

The 19-year-old said she also messaged the USTA privately to jokingly ask what the thought process behind the Thornberrys-style artwork was, but the organization never got back to her.

“They never responded. I got left on read by USTA, which sucks,” she said.

Gauff entered the 2024 Australian Open as the most recent women’s Grand Slam champion, having won the US Open title last year. She faces compatriot Caroline Dolehide in the second round on Tuesday.

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