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2 Jul, 2019 16:31

Wimbledon 2019: Who is teenage tennis prodigy Cori 'Coco' Gauff?

Wimbledon 2019: Who is teenage tennis prodigy Cori 'Coco' Gauff?

15-year-old Cori Gauff caused a stir when she conquered five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams on Monday but who exactly is the teenage sensation who appears to have the tennis world in the palm of her hand?

Gauff defeated the elder Williams sister 24 years her senior in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) in Wimbledon's opening round this week, defying the mammoth age gap to become the youngest person to make it through the qualification stage in the Open era.

The American, who is known by her nickname 'Coco', is now being tipped to carry her exceptional underage career into the professional game and take the tennis world by storm - echoing the similar impact made by her idols Venus & Serena Williams.

Also on rt.com A star is born! 15-year-old Cori Gauff stuns Venus Williams in Wimbledon first round

But who exactly is the player tipped by tennis great John McEnroe to soon become the world's number one player?

She idolizes the Williams sisters

Gauff's surprise win against Venus will be doubly significant for the teenager. Not only does it represent by far the biggest single win of her young career to this point, her professional breakthrough also came against a player partly responsible for Gauff's own journey through the sport.

Collectively Venus & Serena had won 10 Grand Slam titles before Gauff was even born, a dominance over the women's game credited by many with popularizing women's tennis in the United States to never before seen heights. Gauff's win against Venus on Monday, one might say, was ultimately inevitable given the uptick in participation following the sisters' prolonged success.

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Jusqu’à la prochaine fois...

A post shared by Coco Gauff (@cocogauff) on

She didn't expect to participate in Wimbledon this year 

Gauff's world ranking position of 301 wasn't enough to guarantee her a spot in this year's tournament but just days before her first serve in the Grand Slam's opening round she was notified that she had been handed a wild card by tournament organizers.

However, Gauff's tender years also dictate that she can't avoid her studies. She remains in school and had to stay up for an 11pm (UK time) science test the day before her final-round qualification match. 

She has been 'raised for greatness'

Two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin told the BBC that "people have been talking about Coco for years" such is her innate talent, adding that her ability to not be overawed by facing a legendary figure like Venus Williams is a sign of her maturity.

"They have now started to recognize her internationally. Obviously, she's a tremendous athlete, but to walk on court to face Venus, a player who she idolizes, there were plenty of opportunities for her to get tight and nervous," she said.

"She has been raised for greatness and this is beginning."

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The best is yet to come. #2019

A post shared by Coco Gauff (@cocogauff) on

Her underage career was exemplary

While Gauff came to most casual tennis fans' attention for the first time this week, her name has long been spoken of in revered tones since a series of record-breaking underage achievements.

Gauff was the youngest ever finalist (13) at the girls' singles at the US Open in 2017. She won the French Open equivalent two months after her 14th birthday and is currently the youngest payer to compete in the main Wimbledon draw since Brit Laura Robson a decade ago.

She comes from an impressive athletic background

Gauff was raised in an extremely athletic family. Her coach and father Corey was a standout basketball player at Georgia State University, while her mother was a competitive gymnast at Florida State. 

Since the age of seven, Gauff has been dedicated to her tennis training with one simple goal in mind which is, as she puts it, "to be the greatest."

She is off to a good start.

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