Wimbledon fever is upon us! One of the biggest stories to emerge from the early days of Wimbledon 2019 is that of 15-year-old giant slayer Cori “Coco” Gauff. The American tennis phenom made her Grand Slam debut this week, becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to qualify for the main Wimbledon draw.
But that’s not where the fairytale ends. Coco has gone on to win her first two matches. And in straight sets, no less. Monday brought her face-to-face with her idol – and the tournament’s oldest player – 44th seed Venus Williams. Lucky break? Nope. She then silenced any naysayers by soundly defeating 139th seed (but former top 20 player) Magdalena Rybarikova in round two.
Something tells us her own ranking of #313 is set to shrink. And fast.
The Atlanta native was born on March 13, 2004 to an athletic family. Her father Corey, who coaches the young star, played basketball at Georgia State, while her mother Candi competed in track and field at Florida State. Coco first picked up a racket at the age of seven. Three short years later she began training at the prestigious Mouratoglou Academy in Nice, France, which is run by Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.
Her career has soared ever since. In 2017 she reached the junior girls’ final at the US Open. At age 13, it made her the youngest player in history to do so. The next year, at age 14, she won her first Junior Grand Slam title at the French Open, and followed it up with an impressive win at the Orange Bowl. Not a bad resume for a teenager.
Sponsors have certainly taken notice. Coco now has lucrative multiyear endorsement contracts with sportswear manufacturer New Balance (alongside Milos Raonic, Danielle Collins and Heather Watson), racquet-maker Head and pasta company Barilla. She’s also represented by Team8, an agency co-founded by Roger Federer, another one of Coco’s idols. Yes, life for this prodigy is good.
Where to next?
The sky’s the limit for this rising star, who has displayed as much composure, maturity and self-belief on the court as in the press room.
“The last three days have definitely just kind of been surprising,” Gauff said in a press conference after her second-round win on Wednesday. “It just shows if you really work hard, you can get where you want to go. Last week around this time, didn’t know I was coming here. It just shows you have to be ready for everything. I believe everything happens for a reason. People were telling me to keep working hard and your time will come.”
Tomorrow will see Gauff face off with Polona Hercog in the third round. Here’s hoping her historic Wimbledon run continues!
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