- Cori “Coco” Gauff – the tennis wunderkind who famously upset Venus Williams en route to her magical run at Wimbledon– has taken tennis by storm at just 15 years old.
- Since the beginning of the calendar year, the Delray Beach, Florida, native has jumped 614 places in the World Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, breaking into the top-75 for the first time in her young career.
- Gauff took home her first WTA title this week, but just days later, she dropped her opening match at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open to world No. 66 Anna Blinkova.
- Despite some inconsistencies this early in her tenure, Gauff has earned high praise from tennis greats like Serena Williams and Roger Federer.
- Having already faced some of the sport’s top contenders and with so many big names showing confidence in her abilities, it’s just a matter of time before Gauff blossoms into the heir apparent to Serena Williams’ throne that she is oft thought to be.
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Cori “Coco” Gauff – the tennis wunderkind who famously upset Venus Williams en route to her magical run at Wimbledon – has taken tennis by storm at just 15 years old.
Gauff’s star has not dimmed since she launched onto the scene in July. In late August, the Delray Beach, Florida, native took down both Anastasia Potapova and Timea Babos at the US Open before reaching the third round and falling to world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in straight sets. She then ran the table at Upper Austria Ladies Linz in October, defeating four top-100 players – including then-world No.8 Kiki Bertens – en route to her first World Tennis Association (WTA) title.
At her age, neither Venus nor Serena Williams had achieved the same feat.
Gauff’s rapid success has put the world of tennis on notice, and her rankings have reflected that ascent. After starting the year at No. 685 in the WTA rankings, the teen has climbed into the top-100 at No. 71.
January 2019: No. 685
October 2019: No. 71
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) October 14, 2019
Gauff herself may have put it best to reporters after her victory in Linz: “This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year.”
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gauff, who lost in straight sets in the first round of the Citi Open back in late July. She also dropped her opening match at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open to world No. 66 Anna Blinkova.
You could chalk Gauff’s early exits up to growing pains, but famed tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou – who has taken on Gauff as a protégé but is best known for coaching Serena Williams – is directing blame elsewhere.
Due to a WTA rule designed to prevent players who are less than 16 years old from overextending themselves, Gauff is only eligible to compete in 14 tournaments before her next birthday. Mouratoglou believes that abiding by these regulations has stymied Gauff’s growth as a player and that she could more quickly overcome her early-career jitters with more exposure on the court.
“You have to consider that when it’s the right momentum, it’s the right momentum,” Mouratoglou told The Daily Mail.
Gauff turns 16 in March of 2020, and since she’s already competed in 12 tournaments this year, she won’t have much flexibility in the way of elite competition for the next few months.
“This is going to slow her down for sure,” Mouratoglou said. “You are basically preventing young players from doing their job.”
Still, Mouratoglou and a slew of other tennis elites believe in Gauff’s potential. Mouratoglou described her as “impressive in all aspects,” while Serena Williams told Tennis.com that “soon she’ll be on other girls’ walls.”
On the men’s side of the net, Roger Federer said Gauff “wanted to be on the big court… Good players, that’s where they shine, I’d say.”
Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, described the budding star as “the real deal” and said, “she’s going to have the potential to do some amazing things in this sport.”
Having already faced some of the sport’s top contenders and with so many big names showing confidence in her abilities, it’s just a matter of time before Gauff blossoms into the heir apparent to Serena Williams’ throne that she is oft thought to be.
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