Sunday 18 August 2019

'My goal is to win it' - 15-year-old Coco Gauff aiming for the stars after remarkable win over Venus Williams

An emotional Cori Gauff celebrates her first-round win over Venus Williams. Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville
An emotional Cori Gauff celebrates her first-round win over Venus Williams. Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Tracy Wing

Sport often throws up moments when one generation hands the baton on to the next never was that scene more graphic than when 15-year-old Coco Gauff beat her idol Venus Williams at Wimbledon on Monday night.

The statistics were flowing as the youngest woman to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era produced a remarkable 6-4 6-4 victory against legend who had won four of her seven grand slam singles titles before Gauff was born.

Williams simply had no answer to Gauff's audacity and brilliance, with those perched in the revamped No.1 Court waiting for the novice to blink as the victory line approached.

Yet the most talked about teenager in tennis confirmed her era may not be long in arriving as she handed a final blow to Williams and then produced a master class of a performance an a maturely conducted press conference in a packed media room.

"My goal is to win it," declared the Georgia-born youngster who is based in Florida.

"I want to be the greatest. My dad told me that I could do this when I was eight. Obviously, you never believe it. I'm still not 100 per cent confident. But you have to just say things. You never know what happens.

"If I went into this match saying, 'Let's see how many games I can get against her', then I most definitely would not have won. My goal was to play my best. My dream was to win. That's what happened.

"I think people limit themselves too much. Once you actually get your goal, then it's like, what do you do now? I like to shoot really high. I always have many goals along the road, but that way you have the ultimate goal."

Gauff went on to confirm her chat with Williams at the net after the win did not include an apology to her hero, as she revealed she has friends in high places in tennis.

"I wasn't apologizing," she added. "I was just telling her thank you for everything she's done for the sport. She's been an inspiration for many people. I was just really telling her thank you.

"I met her before, but I didn't really have the guts to say anything. I mean, now or never.  I definitely get compared to Venus a lot. Our body shape is kind of the same. We're both tall. We obviously play similar, but when I'm on the court, I just feel like me.

"I wouldn't be in tennis without Venus Williams and the support I am getting from the biggest players since I came into the tour is just amazing.

"Roger Federer definitely inspired me. When I lost first round Australian Open juniors, I talked to him. Gave me kind of a pep talk. The next tournament was French Open juniors, and I ended up winning it, so I guess it helped.

A big fan of musical superstars Rihanna and Beyonce, Gauff spoke like a veteran as she handled a host of media prompts, with her proud parents Corey and Candi also holding court with the media as their daughter showed maturity beyond her years in an immaculate press conference performance.

This was a sporting fairy tale that only comes along once in a while, but such was the class of Gauff on and off the court that this breakthrough victory looks certain to be the first of many in a youthful career that is threatening to explode in glorious fashion.

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