American teenage tennis prodigy Coco Gauff appeared at a protest in her hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, calling for racial and social justice after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in the US
"I was eight years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. So why am I here at 16 still demanding change?" said Gauff, days after posting a video on social media in which she pledged to use her voice to fight against racism.
Martin was an unarmed black teenager whose killing by civilian George Zimmerman 200 miles away in Sanford, Florida, in 2012 helped spark the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
"It breaks my heart because I'm fighting for the future for my brothers," said Gauff.
SEE: Teen US tennis star makes powerful statement at a peaceful protest in Florida. Video: Kind courtesy, Coco Gauff/Instagram
"I'm fighting for the future for my future kids, I'm fighting for the future for my future grandchildren."
Floyd's death on May 25 has sparked a week of sometimes violent protests and civil unrest in cities across the US
Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer who appeared in a cell phone video kneeling on Floyd's neck, has been charged with murder.
Gauff, who rocketed to fame after a stunning upset victory over her idol Venus Williams at last year's Wimbledon, spoke at the rally after her grandmother Yvonne Odom, who was the first black student at her high school in 1961, addressed the crowd.
"It's sad that I'm here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago," said Gauff.
So, I'm here to tell you guys that we must first love each other no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with our friends. I've been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement. Second, we need to take action."
On Tuesday, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were among the tennis players who joined the #BlackOutTuesday campaign against racial injustice, as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.
Men’s world No. 1 Djokovic posted black screenshots on his Twitter and Instagram pages with the message “Black Lives Matter”, and was joined by Federer and Nadal, the other members of the “Big Three” of men’s tennis.
Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Stanislas Wawrinka were among other players who signalled their support for the campaign.