In her Twitter profile, Ohio-born Nicole Gibbs quotes Martin Luther King, who suggested that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And Gibbsy, as she is fondly known, has rarely been silent.
She’s reflected poignantly on the nomadic lives of tennis players. She’s spoken up about prize money and politics and Obamacare (which she said saved the life of her cancer-stricken dad) and, more recently, about civil rights leader John Lewis.
Today Gibbs – ranked No. 92 and based in Santa Monica – beat Timea Babos 7-6, 6-4. The win over the Hungarian, who had recently broken into the top 25, was a heady triumph for Gibbs, a Stanford product who scored a historic sweep in 2012 when she won both the NCAA singles and doubles. But we were more interested what was in Gibbsy’s head about the incoming administration.
So in an intimate press conference (there were just two of us in a small Aussie Open interview room) Inside Tennis leaped in to see if the Stanford grad would speak out about “things that matter.”
INSIDE TENNIS: Going back to Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King, there’s a rather extraordinary tradition of tennis players speaking out about social issues, and you have been really forthcoming [about wide-ranging topics]…Now our country is going through quite a transition. We are a long way away here, but what are your thoughts?
NICOLE GIBBS: I’m definitely concerned. I wanted initially to be optimistic but I think all signs have pointed to a tough transition for the US. It’s tough to talk about subjects like this because it’s just such a broad reach [for an athlete], but I think the more that we can just stand up for what’s right, instead of just tearing down what we believe is wrong, that’s really the important thing. So like the women’s march on Saturday, I think that’s a really powerful tool. I heard there’s one in Melbourne…Things like that are really valuable, and [they] send a statement without being inflammatory.
GIBBSY: If you could sit down with President-elect Trump and say one thing in terms of his approach?
NG: I would ask him to just listen and not just necessarily go down a path that he sees as right and consider others. Sometimes he presents himself as a very self-absorbed or self-obsessed character and I guess I would ask that he listen to others and consider the opinions of others more recently.
IT: So that might be empathy?
GIBBSY: It’s tough for me to talk about a subject in a way that’s not completely outrageous…I mean what do you say to him?…Where do you start?
Well, we thought, you might start, as Gibbsy did, by not being silent about things that really matter.