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'I was just lost': Tennis starlet Coco Gauff admits rapid ascent through ranks sparked depression struggle

'I was just lost': Tennis starlet Coco Gauff admits rapid ascent through ranks sparked depression struggle
16-year-old tennis prodigy Coco Gauff has opened up on the feeling of depression she experienced as she dealt with the level of expectation placed upon her after a series of impressive rookie performances.

The American teenager set the tennis world alight after breaking into the top 50 in the world rankings and reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon at the age of 15.

But the teenage prodigy said she has had to rediscover her fondness for the sport after admitting she struggled with the spotlight placed upon her.

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"Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want," Gauff wrote for tennis periodical Behind The Racquet. 

"Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017-18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved.

"Choosing not to obviously was the right choice, but I was close to not going in that direction," she continued.

"I was just lost,” she said. "I was confused and overthinking if this was what I wanted or what others did. It took many moments sitting, thinking and crying. I came out of it stronger and knowing myself better than ever."

Gauff has been touted as the heir apparent to Serena Williams in the women's game, but she says that she isn't particularly comfortable with the comparison, given the record-breaking career enjoyed by Serena as well as her sister Venus.

"First, I am not at their level yet," Gauff said of the Williams sisters.

"I always feel like it’s not fair to the Williams sisters to be compared to someone who is just coming up. It just doesn’t feel right yet, I still look at them as my idols.

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"Of course I hope to get to where they are, but they are the two women that set the pathway for myself, which is why I can never be them. I would never have even thought about joining tennis without them a part of it, since there were very few African-Americans in the sport."