The youngest player ever to qualify for Wimbledon in the open era made a historic debut in London by beating a much more experienced Venus Williams in the first round of the major tennis tournament on Monday. Cori “Coco” Gauff, who is just 15, is one of a handful of what seems to be a record number of Black American women competing at Wimbledon this year.
She outlasted Williams, who is 39 years old, 6-4, 6-4.
“She used her powerful serve and all-court game to overwhelm her 39-year-old opponent,” the Guardian reported.
“I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm,” she told a reporter after the match in describing playing against someone in Venus Williams who Gauff grew up idolizing.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” Gauff said.
The reporter called her a “champion in the making,” to which Gauff said she never thought it would happen and that she was living her dream and never even imagined she would get this far.
The victory made Gauff the youngest person to win a Wimbledon match since Jennifer Capriati won in 1991.
Gauff, of Delray Beach in Florida, was ranked number 301 in the WTA rankings, but that didn’t stop her from winning the first set against Williams in decisive fashion.
“Earlier this year, Gauff became the youngest female tennis player to win a Grand Slam qualifying match at the French Open with her victory against Ankita Raina,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
Gauff’s victory came after Naomi Osaka, a Black woman who is half Haitian and Japanese, lost her first-round match. Osaka famously beat Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open last year.
Tennis legend Roger Federer had some glowing words for Gauff before her match against Williams.
“It’s a great story. Coco is a nice girl, works really hard, Federer said ahead of the match. “I think she’s obviously got a wonderful future ahead of herself.
Gauff has shown potential for a while, winning her first Junior Grand Slam match at the French Open last year.
Gauff has also credited Serena Williams, the younger sister of Venus, with inspiring her top ven pick up a tennis racket in the first place.
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