The Making Of Coco Gauff, The New Black Tennis Star Taking Wimbledon By Storm
By Adesina Idris
London, July 6, 2019 (AltAfrica)-At 15, most of her peers are either on social media, studying, or starting to find their bearing in life, but Coco Gauff, the new tennis teen sensation has announced herself on the global stage with a bang
The black American had already set a record by becoming the youngest player to qualify for the main draw of Wimbledon in the professional era, before seeing off her idol Venus Williams on day one of the tournament. Then, on Wednesday, she dealt with Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets on Court No1 to reach the third round.
But on Friday night, the 15-year-old, showed the kind of grit and fight that champions are made of as she came from a set and 5-2 down and saved two match points to beat Polona Hercog of Slovenia 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 for a place in the last sixteen
“I want to be the greatest,” she said, evoking boxing icon Muhammad Ali.
Hard-hitting talk indeed, but a look at her meteoric rise shows it’s not an unrealistic ambition from a precocious teen who has long been punching…
“Right now I’m just relieved that it’s over,” said Gauff, who now plays the former world No 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round on Monday. “She was playing unbelievable. I always knew that I could come back, whatever the score is. I just really went for my shots and I’m just happy that slice down the line went in.”
Her exploits has led to 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer introducing himself to her and Rafael Nadal watching her train, while her mobile phone was – in her words – “banging”.
A year later, she won the Junior French Open in 2018, the second-youngest to do so. She is also the youngest female to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament main draw, and the youngest player overall to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon.
Her father played basketball at Georgia State University and her mother was a track and field athlete at Florida State University She has two younger brothers. Gauff is home-schooled by her mother, a former teacher. Her father is her head coach. She is nicknamed “Coco”.
Gauff has trained with Gerard Loglo at the New Generation Tennis Academy in Delray Beach. In 2015, when she was 11, she was selected by Serena Williams‘s coach Patrick Mouratoglou as part of his Champ’Seed foundation and trained with him in Nice, France
In October 2018, Gauff signed her first multi-year sponsorship contract, with New Balance. In March 2019, she announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Italian food company Barilla, which also sponsors Roger Federer.
Gauff made her ITF debut in May 2018 as a qualifier into the 25K event at Osprey, where she won her first professional match. Aged 14, she won her first junior Grand Slam title in June 2018 at the French Open. In September 2018, she won the US Open girls’ doubles with her partner Caty McNally. Gauff finished 2018 by winning the Girls 18 and under division of the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships.
In her Grand Slam tournament debut at Wimbledon on July 1, 2019, Gauff defeated five-time champion Venus Williams in straight sets. It was only the second time since Williams’s 1997 Wimbledon debut that she had lost in the tournament’s first round. Gauff then defeated Magdaléna Rybáriková, and then Polona Hercog, to set up a fourth round clash with former world number 1 Simona Halep.
Pocket money for a 15-year-old – £176,000
Only eligible to play 10 tournaments at professional level between her 15th and 16th birthdays, Gauff seems to have chosen wisely.
Even if she loses to 2018 French Open champion Halep in the next round on Monday, the teenager will take home prize money of £176,000.
Her career earnings until now were £60,000.
“I can’t buy a car because I can’t drive,” she said. “Maybe I’m going to buy some hoodies.”
Her Wimbledon run so far will lift Gauff into the world’s top 200, up from 313 at the start of the tournament.
If she can negotiate her way past potential opponents, such as third seed Karolina Pliskova, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams or world number one Ashleigh Barty, she would rise even higher.
And, whisper it quietly at this stage, no 15-year-old has ever won a Grand Slam singles title. On this showing, it is not something that would faze her