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Cori “Coco” Gauff was dealt a wildcard for this year’s Wimbledon. In other words: she shouldn’t have been there. The 15-year-old, who hails from Atlanta, was shopping online when she found out that, in spite of her too-low ranking, she could in fact compete at the world’s most famous tennis tournament. The newly-anointed tennis sensation reached the fourth round before being knocked out by Romania’s Simona Halep, who went on to win the tournament after beating Serena Williams in the final. Now, Gauff has been dealt another wildcard – for this year’s US Open.
Poised for her second grand slam tournament, Gauff – who is currently ranked at 140 in the WTA – will enter the competition draw on August 22, with the event officially kicking off four days later. This will be her third wildcard this year as age restrictions set up by the women’s tour limit the number of tournaments someone who is 15 can enter and the number of wildcard invitations she be given. However, according to the WTA, the US Open is not ruled by the WTA or ATP tours, therefore can choose to ignore the eligibility rule and offer Gauff a wildcard.
Thanks to her stellar summer and visible sense of sportsmanship, Gauff has a fast-growing fan base. The teenager, who was ranked 301 in the world before Wimbledon kicked off, cemented her place in history before her first service at the All England Tennis Club: she is officially the youngest player to qualify for the main Wimbledon draw since the Open era began in 1968.
In the first round of the Grand Slam, Gauff knocked out her sporting hero, Venus Williams. She also scored another accolade, becoming the youngest tennis player to win a match at Wimbledon since 1991. Having battled her way to the fourth round to the delight of fans, Gauff was ultimately knocked out in straight sets by Romania’s Simona Halep on July 8 – but she’s since focused on the positives.
“It was definitely the best week of my life,” she said at a BBC press conference after the match. “If somebody told me this three weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t believe it,” she added. “But I think just putting in the work definitely raised my confidence because I knew how hard I worked and I knew [the] shots I could make and what was possible.”
But, for Gauff, she’s been focusing on the long game since she was a child. She started playing tennis at the age of seven, eventually leaving Atlanta behind for Florida to focus on the game. Athletic ability is in her genes – not only has she been coached by her father Corey, a former basketball player at Georgia State University, but her mother, Candi, was a gymnast before changing course into track and field. “Everyone has a big dream as a kid,” Gauff recently told Vogue after her stint at Wimbledon. “But there are a lot of people out there who are too scared to follow theirs. I am just an example to get out there and go for it, because – with tennis – the worst thing that can happen is that you lose.” One of three siblings – Gauff has two brothers, Cody and Cameron – the young player has trained at Mouratoglou Academy (Serena Williams’s former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou’s company) in France since she was 10. Come August 26, we’ll be waiting to see what slice of history Gauff serves up this time around.
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