Teenage tennis star Coco Gauff loves fast food and Serena Williams but aims to ‘hate’ Naomi Osaka in Australian Open 3rd round
Coco Gauff says she is looking forward to going to fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A once she returns from her first Australian Open, where the 15-year-old faces an emotional meeting with familiar foe Naomi Osaka in the third round.
Gauff claims she did not know why fans were cheering for her as she moved closer to a potential clash with her idol Serena Williams, whose poster she has removed from her bedroom wall.
The American received rapturous backing as she recovered from the brink of defeat to beat Sorana Cirstea in three sets on Wednesday, before handing out souvenirs to a group of fans at Melbourne Arena.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I would get so much support in Australia,” the world number 75 said.
“It’s really emotional just because I never thought this would happen – like, how many people are supporting me? I think they kind of like me so I hope I can keep that going.
“I didn’t get their names but I did give them wristbands and towels and everything. They were really nice and cheering really loudly.
“The same thing happened at the US Open and Wimbledon. The crowd can really change a match.”Also on rt.com The hunt for a 24th Grand Slam: Serena Williams breezes to 3rd round of Australian Open
Gauff said her agent, Alessandro Barel Di Sant Albano, was trying to provide the fans with Call me Coco T-shirts created for her by New Balance.
She is finding the different direction of traffic in Australia tricky, though she is eager to earn her full driving license when she returns to the US.
“I’m going to be going to Chick-fil-A every day without my parents,” she said, adding that her two brothers “get mad when I drive slow.”
“I’m driving at the speed limit but that’s slow for them. Here, I have to remind myself when I cross the street to look both ways because I don’t want to get hit by a car. I definitely don’t want that to happen.”Also on rt.com Sharapova on the verge of retirement? Russian tennis star says she doesn't know what's next after Australian Open loss
Gauff is on the same side of the draw as Serena Williams and could meet the world number nine in the quarter-finals if she can beat reigning champion Osaka, although she no longer has a picture of her idol displayed at home.
“We moved house so I don’t really have any posters on my wall,” Gauff explained. “I didn’t even know Serena was on my side of the draw. Last time I got in trouble for messing up the wall with those posters.”
Gauff and Osaka both cried in their post-match interviews after Osaka beat the teenager in straight sets in New York last year to end her remarkable run to the third round, which she has also reached in Melbourne in her first appearance in the tournament.
“It was definitely a good moment for both of us,” Gauff said, discussing the aftermath of her defeat to Osaka.
“Little girls and little boys can see what sportsmanship is. If I had a child, that’s something I’d want them to see.
“You might hate the person off the court but on the court you love them. That’s why we sometimes say things we don’t mean.
“When it’s all said and done, we still look at each other with respect.”
Speaking after they last met, world number four Osaka said she would “love” Gauff to “come out of her shell a little bit” after talking to her rival when she spotted her quietly going about her business in the locker room.
“She wasn’t really talking to anyone,” said Osaka. “I just realize that’s probably what people say about me, too. She’s a really talented girl.”