Cori Gauff, a teenage tennis phenom originally from Georgia, became the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon and then defeated one of her idols at the famous tennis tournament: Venus Williams.
Cori, who also goes by the nickname Coco Gauff, is 15-years-old. She was born on March 13, 2004, she’s right-handed, she’s based in Delray Beach, Florida, and she’s from Atlanta, Georgia.
Gauff vanquished Venus Williams in Wimbledon’s first round, 6-4 6-4. Williams, of course, is a five-time Wimbledon champion. In the second round, she defeated Magdalena Rybarijova, 6-3, 6-3. She defeated Polona Hercog in a heart-stopping third match 3-6, 7-6, 7-5. She was defeated by Simona Halep at Wimbledon on July 8.
Cori said she was feeling “relief that it was over…” after the match with Hercog. “I always knew that I could come back… and I just kind of went for my shots.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cori Gauff Grew Up Idolizing Venus & Serena Williams
It was fitting the Gauff bested a Williams’ sister at Wimbledon. She grew up emulating both Venus and Serena Williams.
Serena Williams is “the reason why I play tennis,” the phenom told BBC Sports. According to CNBC, before her match against 39-year-old Venus, she declared, “I’ve been dreaming to share the court with Venus.”
After defeating Venus, she told BBC: “I don”t really know how to feel, this is the first time I’ve cried after a match, after winning.” In a video posted by Wimbledon’s YouTube page, Gauff called Venus one of her idols. “Not many people get to play Wimbledon at 15,” she said. “…and we’ll see where this goes.”
Serena called Cori an “exciting young player, and she’s so cool. She’s a great girl. I love her dad. They’re just really cool people. It’s a great moment for her…” She said that Gauff reminds her of Venus:
According to The New York Times, Gauff said she “would love to share the court with Serena or Venus.” She got her wish – and then some. Her star is just beginning to rise, though. According to WTA, she’s only earned just over $75,000 in her career. However, she stands to rake in much more from endorsements.
2. Gauff Is Still in High School & Recently Finished a Science Test
Gauff is currently a high school student, and she even completed a science test the night before the qualifying tournament files, according to CNBC.
It apparently took a Wimbledon victory for some of her teachers to realize that she played tennis. Some still haven’t figured it out.
“After I made the main draw here, two of my teachers found out I play tennis,” she said in a video posted on the Wimbledon page. “They saw my name in an article. I have three other teachers that don’t know I play tennis. I’m not really the type of person to talk about myself, so I still think they don’t know.”
3. Gauff’s Parents Followed a Similar Path to the Williams’ Sisters’ Dad
Cori Gauff’s parents are named Corey and Candi Gauff. According to the New York Times, they followed the “road map” drawn by the Williams’ sisters’ dad and that included “a shared training base of Pompey Park in Delray Beach, Fla.”
“The Williams family in general made me realize that it was possible,” said Corey Gauff, to the Times. “There wasn’t a lot of color in the sport, and particularly in our country, African-American girls weren’t playing tennis.”
The newspaper reported that Corey Gauff is his daughter’s “primary coach,” but the family sought the assistance of coaches at Mouratoglou Academy in France when Cori was 10.
4. Both of Gauff’s Parents Were Athletes
Both of Gauff’s parents are strong athletes.
According to UK Standard, her dad played basketball at Georgia State University.
Her mom “was a gymnast before competing in athletics at Florida State University,” the British news site reported. Journalist Ira Schoffel wrote that Candi Gauff (Odom) “was a star track athlete at Florida State in the late ’80s & early ’90s.”
FSU Track & Field wrote on Twitter: “Neat @FSU_Track / Wimbledon connection tomorrow on Centre Court when 15 yr old @CocoGauff takes on @Venuseswilliams…Gauff is the daughter of former #Noles heptathlon standout Candi Odom!”
The family moved from Georgia to their current home base in Florida when Gauff was only age 7 to help her tennis career.
5. Gauff Is Setting Records in Tennis Due to Her Age & Talent
According to CNN, Gauff is the 12th youngest overall “to play in the Wimbledon main draw, but the youngest to come through qualifying.”
She won the French Open girl’s championship in 2018 and was the youngest woman to win a “Grand Slam qualifying match” in the French Open, according to CNN.
In 2017, she told CNN: “Overall, I want to be the best I can be and be the greatest.” Her singles ranking was 301st in July 2019, but that’s up from 874 just eight months before, the cable news network reported.
Gauff tweets under the name Coco Gauff.