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Why teenager Cori Gauff has a realistic shot of winning Wimbledon
"I believe everything happens for a reason. People were telling me to keep working hard and your time will come"
Last Updated: 08/07/19 5:57pm
Cori 'Coco' Gauff, with her arsenal of scintillating shot-making, has already declared she is here to win Wimbledon. But can the self-assured 15-year-old live up to her fast-growing reputation and do the unthinkable?
Gauff, who defeated her idol Venus Williams in round one, then former semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova, before fighting off two match points to beat Slovenian Polona Hercog on Friday, is through to the second week of her maiden Grand Slam.
An undaunted Gauff will now meet Simona Halep in the fourth round on Monday. It is a match that is destined for another big show court and, on the evidence so far, she has every chance of claiming her biggest scalp yet against the former world No 1, as she starts to make her sensational winning-run seem like child's play.
Gauff is no respecter of reputations, though. Nor is she lacking in confidence, with the American prodigy, currently ranked 313th in the world, continuing to make history. Whatever happens next, her performance will be remembered alongside the likes of Boris Becker's and Martina Hingis' in terms of outstanding teenage stars at the All England Club.
The talented teen comes from a strong sporting family. She is coached by her father Corey, who played basketball at Georgia State University.
Gauff's mother Candi, meanwhile, was a gymnast before competing in athletics at Florida State University. The family moved from Atlanta to Florida when Gauff was just seven to boost her tennis prospects.
She had been marked out for stardom for a while and is represented by the Team 8 management company, which was set up by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick.
Federer said: "I'm super happy for her. I saw the last couple of games when she qualified. Obviously everybody was waiting to see what the draw was going to be like.
"It's a great story. Coco is a nice girl, works really hard. I think she's obviously got a wonderful future ahead of herself."
She reached the showpiece of the girls' singles at the US Open in 2017 aged just 13, making her the youngest ever finalist.
At the French Open the following year she won the title just over two months after her 14th birthday. She is the first 15-year-old to compete in the main draw at Wimbledon since Laura Robson 10 years ago.
My goal is to win it
Gauff was not ranked high enough to get into qualifying but she was given a wild card by Wimbledon five days before her first match. At the time she found out, she was shopping online for a dress for a gala.
She is still at school and had to stay up late to take a science test at 11pm UK time the night before her final-round qualifier. She went on to beat Greet Minnen 6-1 6-1 in less than an hour and now she is in the third round of a Grand Slam.
The youngest winner of a singles tournament at Wimbledon was Maria Sharapova in 2004. She was 17 years and 75 days old when she first lifted the trophy.
Did you know...
The youngest man to win at Wimbledon was Boris Becker in 1985, who was 17 years and 228 days old when he beat Kevin Curren in the final.
When it comes to the youngest winner in any Grand Slam, Hingis was 16 years and 117 days old when she won the Australian Open in 1997.
Gauff could surpass all of them as she continues her dose of watching YouTube videos to help her relax before matches. Her coaches (including Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou) and family have advised her to stay grounded and this is something she does exceptionally well.
"They just told me, You have another match. The tournament's not over. Don't focus too much on what happened. My goal is to win it," she said.
One little kid asked me for a picture. Then after the next day, after I played Venus, everybody was screaming my name. It was pretty surreal how life changes in a matter of seconds.
Gauff on her life-changing experience
Should Gauff achieve the unthinkable and reach the final then how about a match against world No 1 Ashleigh Barty or even 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams? She is already living out her dreams so why not end the tournament in a fairytale manner?
Great moments from teenagers at Wimbledon...
The Swiss was just 16 years old when she won the 1997 singles title to cement her place as a teenage prodigy, having already won the Australian Open that year. By then she already had pedigree at Wimbledon, having won the mixed doubles the previous year as a 15-year-old.
The German introduced himself to the tennis world in style when he won the 1985 title as a 17-year-old. With his strawberry blonde hair and acrobatics on the court, Becker beat Kevin Curren to become the youngest ever Grand Slam champion at the time.
The Russian was 17 when she became a household name in sport by winning the 2004 crown. With her extraordinary power, and deafening screams, Sharapova beat Serena Williams in the final after a brilliant run in her second Wimbledon outing.
The controversial Australian's first headlines were positive, when in 2014 he sent Rafael Nadal packing in the fourth round, aged only 19. He became the first debutant to reach the quarter-finals in a decade and has been unable to repeat it.
Sharapova was not the first teenage Russian to cause a storm as a 16-year-old Kournikova made it to the semi-finals on her debut in 1997. She lost to fellow teen Hingis and was never able to recreate the heights.
Hingis got a taste of her own medicine in 1999 when she was defeated by the 16-year-old Dokic, as the Australian became the first ever qualifier to beat the world No 1 at Wimbledon. Her run ended at the quarter-final stage.
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