Coco Gauff has mocked a social media post by the USTA depicting American players competing at the Australian Open.
The USTA posted an image of the seeded American players in Melbourne in the style of the Wild Thornberrys cartoon. The post was supposed to wish the players good luck but instead drew the ire of Gauff, the reigning US Open women’s champion, and her compatriot Jessica Pegula.
“Worst thing I’ve ever seen,” Gauff said in an Instagram story on Sunday. “Like a caricature artist decided to make [us] all look like hideous looking people. The art style is cool for a cartoon show but not for a hype post. Foul.”
The image has since been taken down. “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 is makes us all look so ugly,” the 19-year-old said. Pegula, the world No 5 and a doubles partner of Gauff, agreed: “Hahahahhaha we are ugly af,” she wrote in reply to Gauff.
After receiving backlash on social media, Gauff clarified that she had not been mortally offended by the image. “[I wrote about the image because] I was bored in my hotel room … tennis twitter is funny but ruthless haha omg.”
Also depicted in the post were Ben Shelton, Sebastian Korda, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Emma Navarro.
Gauff, the No 4 seed in Melbourne, opens her campaign against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová on Monday. She successfully defended her Auckland Open title last week, defeating Elina Svitolina in the final.
Fritz and Tiafoe won their first-round matches on the opening day in Melbourne and there were also victories for their unseeded compatriots, Caroline Dolehide and Amanda Anisimova in the women’s draw.