Cori “Coco” Gauff had already accomplished something amazing by qualifying for the 2019 Wimbledon at age 15, setting up a first-round matchup against the legendary Venus Williams. What happened next is even more stunning: Gauff defeated the five-time Wimbledon champion in straight sets for one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
With the two dressed in similar all-white fashion for the matchup, Gauff – the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon – came out and won back-to-back sets, 6-4, 6-4, while her parents cheered on from the stands. After Williams’ final shot hit the net, Gauff fell to her knees in triumph before getting up to shake her defeated opponents’ hand.
It was an incredible performance from Gauff, who said before the match she was just happy for the opportunity. “I have nothing to lose, playing against one of the greatest players of all time,” Gauff said prior to her victory, via CNBC.
But who exactly is the teenage phenom potentially poised to take the sport by storm? Here’s more on an athlete we should all get more familiar with soon.
She got her first sponsorship three years after starting tennis
Gauff, who was born in Atlanta, started playing tennis when she was 7 years old. It quickly became obvious she was a precocious talent with immense upside, so she eventually moved to Florida in order to pursue more opportunities. By the time Gauff was 10, she had a sponsorship deal with Nike and had trained at a famous academy in France. She’s now signed to a multi-year deal with New Balance, and hawks products for racket maker Head and Italian food company Barilla.
Her parents were both college athletes
It should be no surprise Gauff’s parents also played sports in their youth, according to a 2017 profile from ESPN. Her father, Corey, played three seasons as a speedy point guard at Georgia State. In his final year, he finished fifth on the team in points per game (7.9) and second in assists per game (2.4). Her mother, Candi, was a five-time Florida high school champion heptathlete and track star at Florida State University.
She’s still attending high school
The day before her final qualifying match to get into Wimbledon, Gauff had to take a science test. The 15-year-old said many of her teachers didn’t even know she plays tennis because she chooses not to talk about herself too much. However, it’s fair to say they’ll all know soon.
This isn’t her first notable win
While it’s fair to call this the biggest victory of her career so far, Gauff has had success on the court before. She made her ITF tour debut last year in the Osprey and won her first match. She also won the junior 2018 French Open title, rallying to beat Caty McNally in the final, and teamed up with McNally to win the junior doubles title at the 2018 U.S. Open.