Cori Gauff Has Our Attention07/03/2019
WIMBLEDON, England — Cori Gauff, the 15-year-old sensation, made one of the most memorable Wimbledon debuts in recent memory by beating Venus Williams on Monday. She plays her second-round match Wednesday afternoon.
Before then, here is a primer on Gauff’s young career:
Nickname: Coco. Not to be confused with CoCo, the nickname of American player Colleen Vandeweghe. Gauff’s first name is pronounced the same as her father’s, Corey. “He likes to say every time they call me ‘Cori,’ they’re cheering for him,” Cori said on Monday, with filial exasperation.
Hometown: Gauff was born in Delray Beach, Fla., on March 13, 2004. She grew up in Atlanta before moving back to Delray Beach to focus on tennis.
Family: Her father, Corey, is her primary coach and was a basketball player at Georgia State. Her mother, Candi, was a hurdler and heptathlete at Florida State. All members of Gauff’s immediate family have the initials C.D.G., including her younger brothers, Cody and Cameron.
Pedigree: Gauff began playing tennis at age 7, inspired by Serena Williams. Her first big splash at the I.T.F. junior level was reaching the girls’ final of the 2017 United States Open at 13. She won the girls’ final of the French Open the next year at 14, and finished her junior career at the end of last year by winning the prestigious Orange Bowl tournament.
Hoop dreams: Her father originally wanted her and her siblings to play basketball, as he had in college. She didn’t like it and couldn’t shoot, she said, but was able to play good defense.
High-Profile Connections: Gauff is represented by Team8, the agency co-founded by Roger Federer. Since she was 10, she has trained part of the year in southern France at the Mouratoglou Academy, which is run by Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’s coach.
Favorite Meme: Like many her age, Gauff speaks fluent meme. Her current favorite is “And I — Oop!”, an interjection of surprise created by Jasmine Masters, an alumna of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Gauff said many of her friends sent her the phrase after her shocking win at Wimbledon. (In a show of the generational gap, perhaps, tournament stenographers at her news conference Monday spelled it “Anna Oop.”)
Musical heroes: Gauff looks up to Rihanna and Beyoncé, but her favorite singer is Jaden Smith. She said she had his song “Icon” stuck in her head during her first-round qualifying match, and also listened to it, along with tracks by Kendrick Lamar and Miss Mulatto, before playing Venus Williams.
How she got here: Currently ranked 313th, Gauff was given a wild card into the Wimbledon qualifying tournament. In her first match, she beat the highest-ranked player in the event, No. 94 Aliona Bolsova, who had reached the fourth round of the French Open. Gauff then won her next two matches in straight sets to become the youngest women to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era. Her first-round match against Venus Williams was her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam event.
Her next opponent: In the second round Wednesday, Gauff will face an accomplished grass court player: Magdalena Rybarikova, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2017. Rybarikova, a 30-year-old Slovak, is ranked 139th, but was in the top 20 at this time last year. In a sign of the intrigue around Gauff, the match will be on No. 2 Court, the tournament’s third largest.
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