Turning pro at 14, USA’s Coco Gauff has wasted no time soaring through the WTA ranking ladder and displaying extraordinary talents for her age.
Cori “Coco” Gauff has not had an ordinary teenage life, to say the least. She is a dreamer who defined her goal at an early age and has been purposeful about her actions towards it. From making huge ranking leaps in the ITF Junior Circuit to an insanely early debut in the WTA Tour, the young American has taken the world of women’s tennis by storm and is cracking open a new age for the sport.
Junior career – 2017 & 2018 (world No. 1)
Coco Gauff is on a journey to become the Greatest of All Time, an unwavering dream she’s had since as early as four years of age when she first laid eyes on Serena Williams. Coco’s father explained to her the meaning of the term GOAT, and her immediate response was “Daddy, I want to be the GOAT!”
Fast forward a decade and the words of a child that would foreshadow the journey ahead still rang strong to the ears. Gauff was deep into the world of tennis all throughout her childhood, carrying with her an enormous passion for the game that is matched only by the size of her dream. It wasn’t long until the spirited American became the youngest junior’s US Open finalist at age 13, followed by junior world number one by age 14.
Pro Tour – 2019 ranking leap (WTA Top 100)
Perhaps the most defining moment of Coco Gauff’s career so far was when she managed a win over one of her childhood inspirations, Venus Williams, in the first round of Wimbledon, overcoming the seven-time Grand Slam champion in straight sets 6-4 6-4. In a somewhat passing-of-the-torch moment between two generations of talented American athletes, Coco is gradually resembling an incarnation of the Williams sisters through her teenage success and passion for tennis.
At just 15 years of age, Coco Gauff had not faltered in her footsteps towards realizing her dream, seizing her maiden singles and doubles titles to become the youngest WTA singles winner since 2004. In addition, Coco Gauff’s ranking jumped to number 67 in the world, making her the youngest player in the WTA Top 100 and one of just six teenagers on that list.
Pro Tour – 2020 continued flight (WTA Top 50)
Coco began the 2020 season in style, repeating her Wimbledon 2019 feat at the Australian Open where she once again took down Venus Williams in the first-round match, 7-6(5) 6-3. Defeating her in straight sets for a second time and raising the head-to-head between them to 2 wins and 0 losses over the former world number one, Gauff has produced remarkable results in her teenage tennis years and is showing great promise as a future ambassador of the sport.
“My mission is to be the greatest of all time,” Coco told reporters after her win. “That’s my goal, to win as many Grand Slams as possible. But for today, my mission was to win.”
The most noteworthy factor of Gauff’s streak of successes is not what she has accomplished, but the consistency with which she does so. Beginning her climb through the WTA ranking system from age 14, she has yet to have any significant setbacks and seems to continuously achieve milestones that outdo her last.
Continuing her steady ascension through the ranks, Coco Gauff was able to crack into the Top 50 on the WTA ladder, making the best out of what was otherwise a miserable year for tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting the year with a ranking of 67 and ending the year at world number 48, Coco managed to jump 19 spots in one of the most challenging years for sports and for the world.
Pro Tour – 2021 career-high ranking (WTA Top 20)
Indeed, with each new year comes a new high point for Coco Gauff, this time winning the singles and doubles titles at the Emilia-Romagna Open, becoming the youngest person to claim both titles of an event since Maria Sharapova. With that, Gauff secured her second singles and third doubles WTA titles, becoming the youngest American since Serena Williams to reach a ranking in the Top 25.
To add to an already extraordinary year of success for the young teen, Coco Gauff was even selected to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, only to be forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, this incident prevented her from becoming the second youngest American to compete at the Olympics, though her potential has been made evident. As of September 13th, 2021, Coco Gauff would leap through the ranks once again, reaching an all-time high of world number 19 in singles and 25 in doubles.
As a young American woman breaking all kinds of records in the WTA, it’s hard to deny some of the parallels between young Coco Gauff and the early careers of the legendary Williams sisters. Given her trajectory of success continues throughout her adult years, Coco Gauff should have the woodchucks to become a future legend of the sport while manifesting a new age for women’s tennis. (photos: Jimmie48)