One of the most interesting sport stories of 2019 is definitely Cori “Coco” Gauff’s journey in the 2019 version of Wimbledon, one that will never be forgotten by tennis fans. At the age of 15 years, and 3 months, Gauff was the youngest player to ever reach the main draw at Wimbledon by winning two qualifying rounds. She defeated 92nd ranked player, and 21-year-old Aliona Bolsova, and 128th ranked player, and 21-year-old, Greet Minnen to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon. Guaff’s success at such a young age should be celebrated, so let’s discover how the teenager got to the spotlight.
Born in Delray Beach, Florida and raised in Atlanta, Gauff’s parents were both college athletes. Her father played college basketball at Georgia State, and her mother participated in track and field at Florida State. Due to their athletic backgrounds, they encouraged Cori to play a variety of sports such as track, and basketball in addition to tennis, which she knew from a young age was her one true love.
Gauff states that tennis being an individual rather than team sport as the reason for choosing tennis over other sports such as basketball. She began playing tennis at the age of six, and decided following her championship performance at the “Little Mo” eight and under nationals that her dream was to play professional tennis. From a young age, Guaff loved the idea of individual sports over team sports, but this one win is what made her officially make tennis a priority over other sports.
After realizing their daughter’s full potential, her family decided to move back to Delray Beach, where Coco would have a better opportunity to develop her game, setting her up for a future in the sport. Her father began as her primary coach, but due to his limited experience playing tennis, he decided it was best for Cori to be trained by someone with real professional experience. So, at the young age of ten, Cori began training at the Mouratoglou Academy in Biot, France, a tennis academy founded by Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of the legendary Serena Williams.
After joining the academy, Coco entered the USTA’s Clay Court National 12 and under title, which she won at the of ten years and three months, making her the youngest champion in its history. This led to her Junior career stage, which she began at the age of thirteen, making her junior Grand Slam debut in 2017 at the US Open where she lost in the final to then fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova. Before losing in the final, Gauff did not lose a set in any match, showing how high her potential was at the young age of thirteen, while also becoming the youngest finalist in tournament history.
Gauff went on to win her first junior title at the 2018 French open at the age of fourteen, defeating Caty McNally in three sets. This led to her debut in the ITF Women’s Circuit in May of 2018, where she went on to win her first professional match and received an opportunity to qualify for the 2018 US Open, but failed to qualify after losing her first match at the age of fourteen.
Guaff was able to qualify for 2019’s version of Wimbledon after losing in the second round of qualifying for the French Open. The rest of Coco Gauff’s story is now history due to her terrific performance in Wimbledon. Gauff went on to upset her childhood idol, Venus Williams, in straight sets in her professional, and Grand Slam main draw debut. Gauff credits the Williams twins as the reason she wanted to play tennis in the first place, having said that “they are the reason why I wanted to pick up a tennis racket.” All Gauff could say to her childhood idol was thank you, showing her maturity in knowing how much Venus has done for the sport, not letting the stage or moment get to big for her.
Coco went on to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog, who are both ranked, in the next two rounds, before being scheduled on Centre Court to face Simona Halep, where her tremendous journey finally concluded. At the age of fifteen, Coco Gauff has given us a story of a lifetime, showing that anything is possible, and no one should ever limit themselves or their dreams. Now that she has taken down one of the all-time tennis greats, and her idol in Venus Williams, maybe we’ll see Coco go up against her other idol, Serena, in her next Grand Slam opportunity at the US Open.