Cori “Coco” Gauff secured another victory at Wimbledon on Friday against Slovenian veteran Polona Hercog. The 15-year old Atlanta tennis player advances to the fourth round after winning a match in the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.
On Friday’s match with Hercog, Gauff had a rough start. Hercog led the first match with six match points versus Gauff’s 3. However, Gauff did not lose confidence and came back with a 7-6 and a 7-5 victory in her favor.
The Wimbledon crowd motivated Gauff, as the teen’s fans grow in number. “The support has been outstanding. Every match they’re calling her name. I sit there and go, like, ‘What in the world is going on?’,” Gauff’s father Corey told reporters.
Gauff also told ESPN how much the audience supported her. “The crowd was amazing, even when I was down a match point they were still cheering me on,” she says.
During the match, Gauff impressed Hercog after coming back from the loss in the first round. Hercog’s slices defeated Gauff’s backhand, which had been the teen’s main weapon. However, the teen adjusted and started serving Hercog with her own slices instead of attacking Hercog.
Mats Wilander, a multiple grand slam winner himself told CNN, “I thought that Coco tactically changed her game, which is very encouraging to me. She didn’t hit her way through Hercog so to speak, she was slicing the ball back and giving Hercog no pace suddenly. That’s for me the biggest sign of something special in Coco.”
In the last match, Hercog missed two forehand plays. During a break, Hercog called for a trainer to work on the onset of leg cramps. Gauff went on a bathroom break and came back with the same motivation from the previous marathon rally.
Gauff is now the youngest player in the Open. After qualifying in the tournament’s main draw during the wild card stage, the teen sensation faced her first match with her childhood idol, Venus Williams.
“I’m still in shock,” Gauff said about her qualifying into the tournament, “Playing against the top players in the field is going to be a different feel.”
Big Win Over Williams
Gauff shot to fame last July 1 when she defeated Venus Williams in her first round at the tournament. Williams, now 39, is out of the competition with match points 6-4 and 6-4 in favor of Gauff.
Gauff considers Williams as an idol and one of the reasons why she chose to compete. The teen broke down in tears after her match with the tennis legend.
“I don’t really know how to feel, this is the first time I’ve cried after a match, after winning,” said Gauff. “I never thought this would happen. I’m living my dream right now, not many people get to say that.”
According to CNN, Williams shared good tidings to Gauff after their match. The tennis veteran said, “Congratulations, keep going, and good luck.” The starstruck teen replied, “I just told her I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t[sic] for her, she’s so inspiring. I’ve always wanted to tell her that, but I’ve never had the guts to before.”
Before her match with Williams, Gauff had to walk a hallway full of William’s photos, each one holding a tournament trophy. Gauff’s father recalled feeling nervous that Gauff may feel intimidated while walking that stretch of hallway.
“She’s got her earphones on, she’s listening to music. She’s walking and I’m walking behind her and I’m hoping she’s not intimidated because as we’re walking we see Venus holding up a trophy, go a little further, Venus [is] holding up another trophy,” Corey Gauff shared laughing.
“Go a little bit further, there’s another picture of Venus holding up the trophy and in my mind I’m thinking, just don’t look to the left or right. Just keep going straight ahead. You need no reminders that she won this five times.”
Williams started her professional career in tennis at the age of 14. Nineteen years ago, Williams won her first Grand Slam Singles title defeating Lindsay Davenport.
Considered as an American tennis prodigy, Gauff has been touted to be the next Serena Williams. Last year, Gauff won the French Open girl’s championship. Her Women’s Tennis Association singles standing rose sharply within the last eight months, dropping from 874th to the 301st place.