Who Is Coco Gauff?
Cori “Coco” Gauff is a professional tennis player. After receiving a wild card entry to Wimbledon in 2019 when she was 15, she defeated five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the first round. That year Gauff also reached the third round of the U.S. Open and won her first singles title. In 2021, she added a second singles title to her name and played in the quarterfinal of the French Open. Gauff was added to the U.S. Olympic team in June 2021, but had to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19.
Early Life and Family
Cori “Coco” Gauff was born on March 13, 2004, in Delray Beach, Florida. She was named Cori after her father, Corey, and received his nickname of Coco as well. Gauff’s father played Division I basketball at Georgia State University. Her mother, Candi, was a gymnast who also participated in Division I track and field at Florida State University.
Gauff spent her early years in Georgia. Her mother was a teacher, while her father was a pharmaceuticals executive. To support Gauff’s tennis training and career, her parents opted to leave their jobs and move back to Delray Beach, Florida. Candi began to homeschool her daughter while Corey became his daughter’s coach. Gauff has two younger brothers, Cameron and Cody.
Early Tennis Career
Because Gauff’s parents were athletes, they wanted their firstborn to pursue a sport. Gauff began playing tennis at the age of 6. By the time she was 10, she had traveled to France to work with Patrick Mouratoglou, who coaches Serena Williams. Gauff has continued to train with Mouratoglou, but her father is her main coach.
Corey has said of Gauff’s development, “Be a well-rounded athlete, learn other sports — that’s one thing we emphasized with Coco early on; she was in gymnastics, soccer, basketball, and she ran track. We wanted her to develop as a total athlete.”
Gauff won the United States Tennis Association Clay Court National 12-under title in 2014. In 2017 she took second place at the U.S. Open Girl’s Junior Championships. The next year she became the junior champion at the French Open.
Professional Tennis Career
In January 2019, Gauff told friends and family her goal for the year was to become one of the top 100 ranked players in the Women’s Tennis Association. She was ranked 685 at the time.
In June 2019, a 15-year-old Gauff scrambled to get to London after receiving a wild card slot to play at Wimbledon. In the first round she faced off against Venus Williams. Williams was not only a five-time champion at Wimbledon, but she and her sister Serena were Gauff’s tennis idols. However, Gauff came out triumphant.
Gauff made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019, the youngest player to do so since 1991. Her success drew so much attention it inspired the term “Cocomania.” Soon afterward, she lasted until the third round of the U.S. Open, again the youngest to accomplish this since 1991. Her loss was followed by a moment of touching sportsmanship when winner Naomi Osaka invited Gauff to take part in the post-match interview.
Gauff’s first WTA title came at Austria’s Linz Open in October 2019. This triumph was made possible, in part, because she was what tennis refers to as a “lucky loser” who got to the tournament’s main draw after another player left due to injury. Gauff also became one of WTA’s top 100 players, meeting the goal she’d set for herself.