Fifteen-year-old Cori Gauff caused one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history, beating her tennis idol, five-time champion Venus Williams, in straight sets in the Ladies’ Singles First Round.
Gauff, the youngest player to qualify and reach the First Round at Wimbledon, cried after beating Williams, who is 24 years her senior, and the oldest competitor in the tournament. Venus Williams had won four Grand Slam titles – including two at Wimbledon – before Cori Gauff, or “Coco”, was even born.
“It’s the first time I have ever cried after winning a match,” Gauff, who previously said Venus and sister Serena were her “idols”, told the BBC.
“I don’t know how to explain how I feel. I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm, I had to remind myself that the lines are the same lines, the courts are the same size and after every point I told myself ‘stay calm’,” she said.
When Cori Gauff was born, Toxic by Britney Spears was at number one, Starsky and Hutch was in the cinema, and Facebook had just been founded. She took a high school science exam last Wednesday.
This was her third tour-level match; Williams has played more than 1,000. It was also Gauff’s first match at Wimbledon, where Williams has played more than 100 times and won five titles, AP reported.
“It didn’t really seem real, for a moment,” said her father, Corey Gauff, between handshakes and slaps on the back and requests for selfies from spectators leaving No. 1 Court.
“On the walk to the court, I was walking behind her. She was excited. I was excited. She seemed confident, but I wasn’t sure if it was false confidence or she really was. I just said to her: This match is really magical. Just enjoy it. Your first Wimbledon main draw and you’re on a main court against somebody you looked up to from the beginning.”
Cori Gauff grew up in Atlanta and started playing tennis at the age of seven. Her parents Corey and Candi Gauff, both athletes, moved to Delray Beach, Florida, to have Cori train with Gerard Loglo at the New Generation Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida. At age 11, she was picked by Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou to be part of his Champ’Seed foundation and trained with him in Nice, France.
At age 13, Gauff was the youngest girl to make a US Open girls final. She won the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation’s international “Little Mo” Tournament title in 2012 and won the 12 & Under The Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship title in Florida in 2016.
In June last year, she became the fifth-youngest winner of the French Open girls’ tournament.
In October, 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.
Gaston Murray, a hitting partner of Gauff’s told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in June last year: “Her talent, I’d say, is off the charts for her age. There’s not a lot of people I can name in the past that have come up like her, besides the Williams sisters.
“If people, if they know tennis, are familiar with Martina Hingis. That’s the closest thing I can come up with. But she’s definitely one of a kind, and I can see in these two or three years, give her time, and she’s gonna be just as good.”
She previously said the Williams sisters inspired her to first pick up a tennis racquet.
“Venus told me congratulations and keep going, she said good luck and I told her thanks for everything she did,” Gauff told BBC in a television interview.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her – I told her she was so inspiring and I’ve always wanted to tell her that but I’ve never had the guts to before.
“My parents will be super happy, my dad was jumping up every time I won a point. I’m so happy they spent all their time on me and my brothers and making sure we’re successful.
“I never thought this would happen. I’m literally living my dream right now. I’m really happy Wimbledon gave me the chance to play, I never thought I would get this far.”
Her dad, who played basketball at Georgia State University, is her coach.
“I want to be the greatest. My dad told me that I could do this when I was eight,” she said. “Obviously you never believe it. I’m still not 100 per cent confident. Now my goal is to win it.”
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) July 1, 2019