At the tender age of 15, tennis phenom Cori Gauff already recognizes that she has inevitably become a role model and it’s a title she firmly embraces.
Gauff, who is known as Coco, made waves well past the tennis court in June when she beat the seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams to advance to the second round at Wimbledon. Further adding to the achievement is the fact that Gauff looked up to Williams and her sister Serena as she grew up training on the same grounds as the famed tennis stars.
More recently, Gauff claimed a 6-1, 6-2 win over Hiroko Kuwata at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., on July 28, qualifying for the main tournament. With her continued feats, Gauff, who is currently ranked No. 143, told reporters she doesn’t exactly feel pressure to perform.
“I don’t really feel too much weight on me because I’m just being the best person I can be,” she said. “And I know that people are looking up to me so I know that helps a lot more because I know that people are watching. And I wanna be a good role model for younger girls so one day I hope that, like I’m talking about Venus and Serena are my idols, I hope that one day, someone says [I’m theirs].”
Gauff has been open about her adoration of the Williams sisters in the past.
“Serena Williams has always been my idol … and Venus. They’re the reason why I wanted to pick up a tennis racket,” Gauff said of the tennis icons in an interview uploaded to Wimbledon’s Twitter account earlier this summer. “And I met them both, and they’re both super-kind people, and I’m just super happy and thankful that they chose to play tennis.”
Hearing about her appreciation of the famed tennis pros, Serena said she felt “honored” after hearing Coco had her poster up on the wall.
“I just love Coco and her family they’re just really sweet … and she’s pretty awesome and pretty cool,” Serena told reporters earlier this month. “Honestly, I feel honored that I was on her wall at some point in her life. Soon she’ll be on other girls’ walls. And it’s nice because it will keep it going from the next generation and the next generation.”
Gauff grew up watching the Williams sisters on TV. Meanwhile, her parents took a page out of the sisters’ dad Richard Williams’ playbook and had the teen train at Pompey Park in Delray Beach, Florida, where she got her start in tennis, just as the Williams sisters once trained on public courts in Compton, California.