American teenager Cori Gauff sent shockwaves through the tennis world when she upset five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon. At just 15 years old, she is the youngest competitor to participate in the tournament’s main draw. Here are five things to know about the girl who goes by the nickname “Coco.”
She Grew Up Idolizing the Williams Sisters
Gauff’s historic matchup with Venus Williams was the culmination of a childhood dream and years of hard work. After passing through her qualifying match, Gauff spoke about how the success of the Williams sisters was instrumental in her playing the sport of tennis.
“They’re the reason I picked up a tennis racket,” Gauff said after her qualifying match. “I met them both and they’re both super kind people and I am just super happy and thankful that they chose to play tennis.”
It’s impossible not to see some parallels between Gauff’s rise and the start of Venus’s and Serena’s careers. Gauff was trained by her father, Corey, who remains her primary coach—similar to the role Richard Williams played in building up his daughters to be future champions.
“The Williams family, in general, made me realize that it was possible,” said Gauff’s father told the New York Times. “There wasn’t a lot of color in the sport, and particularly in our country, African-American girls weren’t playing tennis.”
The comparisons aren’t lost on the Williams sisters either. Serena occasionally trains at the same facility where Gauff works out and has noticed similarities in the father-daughter dynamic.
“I see her out there working, training, her and her dad; it reminds me of the time where I was out there with my dad,” Williams said. “I can’t help but look inside of myself and be proud and be happy for her.”