It was a ‘tears of joy’ moment when 15-year-old Cori Gauff seized the opportunity and bettered Venus Williams at Wimbledon by winning the first round 6-4, 6-4. The American tennis prodigy is the youngest player in the Open era to have advanced through qualifying to reach Wimbledon’s main draw. In the first round, she faced a far experienced and rough, compatriot Venus Williams as their match marked the biggest age gap — 23 years — between the two players since 2004.
Florida resident Gauff has been touted as the next Serena Williams, shockingly outclassed the veteran as she was ousted from the first round of Wimbledon on Monday.
Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff beat Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion. Gauff is ranked 313th worldwide, is the youngest player to compete in Wimbledon in a decade.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match. Or winning, obviously, I’ve cried after a loss before,” Gauff told the BBC in an interview. “I never thought this would happen. I’m literally living my dream right now. And not many people get to say that,” she added.
It was the first Grand Slam singles match of Gauff’s career, while Williams, a five-time Wimbledon singles champion, bagged two of those titles before Gauff was born.
Williams applauded her opponent after the match saying, “She did everything well today,” according to The New York Times. “She put the ball in the court, which was much better than I did. She served well, moved well. It was a great match for her.” Gauff told Williams that she grew up admiring her career. “I told her thank you for everything that you did. I wouldn’t be here without you. I always wanted to tell her that,” Gauff reportedly said.
Gauff is the 12th youngest overall to play at the Wimbledon main draw
On Thursday, the 15-year-old American outclassed world No. 129 Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-1, to secure a spot in the main draw and make history.
In 2017, Gauff was the youngest United States Open junior finalist in history, according to the Times. “On the court, I was not thinking about Venus,” Gauff said. “I was just playing my game. No matter who I play against, I want to win. So that’s what I was just thinking about the whole time. I wasn’t really thinking about who I was facing on the other side of the net.”
If Gauff wins Wimbledon this year, she’d be the youngest ever to do so, after 15-year-old Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Dod who won the championship more than a century ago, back in 1887.
Feature Image Credit: The New Yorker