At just 15 years old, Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff shocked the tennis world when she defeated Venus Williams in the opening round of the 2019 Wimbledon tournament. She went on to win her next two matches to become the youngest player to reach the Grand Slam’s second week since 15-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1991.
Just ahead of her 16th birthday, Gauff defeated Naomi Osaka in straight sets at the 2020 Australian Open — the Grand Slam tournament Osaka had won the previous year.
Determined to continue her run at Serena Williams’ 23 Grand Slam titles, Coco is primed to make a statement this year. Here are six things you need to know about this budding superstar.
A Family Affair
Gauff’s father, Corey, is her primary tennis coach. While he also played basketball at Georgia State, Coco’s mother, Candi, was a hurdler and heptathlete at Florida State.
Every single member of her immediate family has the initials C.D.G, including her two younger brothers, Cody and Cameron.
An Early Start
While not as young as Serena Williams’ three-year old daughter, Coco started playing tennis at the age of 7. Her first major accomplishment was at the I.T.F. junior level when she reached the girls’ final of the 2017 United States Open at 13.
The following year, Coco won the girls’ French Open title at age 14, and completed her junior career by winning the Orange Bowl tournament.
Not a Fan of Hoops
As soon as Coco’s father realized she was ready to play sports, he wanted to train her to become a professional basketball player and follow in his footsteps. In fact, he encouraged all three of his children to pursue basketball.
Despite his best efforts, Coco absolutely hated the sport. Inspired by her childhood heroes, the Williams sisters, she picked up a racket. The rest is history.
Friends in High Places
Coco is represented by Team8, the sports agency co-founded by Tennis superstar Roger Federer. Perhaps she has already beaten the Swiss Maestro in a friendly match, but promised never to speak of it. We’ll never know!
Since she was 10 years old, she’s spent part of each year training in southern France at the Mouratoglou Academy. This training facility is operated by Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams.
Pumping Up Through Music
While Coco admires and idolizes Rihanna and Beyoncé, the tennis phenom’s favorite musical artist is Jaden Smith. His hit song, “Icon” was stuck in her head during her first-round qualifying match.
She listened to the same song, along with music by Kendrick Lamar and Miss Mulatto, prior to her opening round victory against Venus Williams. During a postmatch press conference she told viewers to “please stream” Smith’s latest album ERYS.
Early in her professional career, Coco signed a multi-year sponsorship contract with New Balance. She immediately became one of the most popular faces of the brand, inspiring young girls all over the world to pursue their dreams.
Some of her other endorsement deals include the tennis racket company Head and the famous pasta company, Barilla. By the way, the Italian multinational food company also sponsors Federer.