ABOVE PHOTO: Tennis champion Coco Gauff enjoys her victory displaying her championship cup from her win of the singles title in Parna, Italy and kisses it before excited crowds. (Photos courtesy: Napoleon F. Kingcade)
By Napoleon F. Kingcade
At last weekend’s World Tennis Tournament in Parma,Italy, 17-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff pulled off one of the greatest victories of her professional tennis career.
The young star beat her opponent, Qiang Wang of China, who she had never played before. On May 22, it took the Florida teenager one hour and 14 minutes to dismantle Wang. Gauff cruised to an easy victory as she won in straight sets, 6-1,6-3, to capture the event’s singles titles.
Expressing her delight of playing for such an amazing crowd, Gauff ran towards the sideline, where she embraced her dad and her coaching team and thanked them for sticking by her side. Moments later, at the trophy ceremony, Gauff kissed her prize and thanked the crowd.
But before Gauff could catch her breath, she was teamed up with 19-year-old Caty McNally in the doubles finals. In that match, the two teenagers defeated Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepic, 6-3, 6-2, to claim the doubles title last Saturday afternoon.
In winning the doubles title, Gauff was able to complete a sweep. Never before in recent years has a teenager won both events. Gauff had an incredible day; she became the youngest player to sweep the singles and doubles titles since Maria Sharapova in 2004.
Back in 2019, when she was just 15-years-old, Gauff became the youngest female tennis player to win a Women’s Tennis Association title since 2004. She defeated Jelena Ostapenko in the Linz Open Finals, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, in Linz, Austria. That happened two years ago when Gauff kicked off her breakout season and became a rising star.
Before that, Gauff first gained the national spotlight after defeating her idol and former number one ranked Venus Williams in the first round at the 2019 Wimbledon Open.
Gauff defeated Williams in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. For the 15-year-old teenager, it was a jaw-dropping experience. On that day, Gauff was able to play a beautiful tennis match — she kept her composure and delivered shots all over the tennis court. She had great focus and never lost her concentration.
Gauff never cut Williams any breaks. Her shots were clocked at 118 m.p.h. As a spectator, you could see Gauff’s competitive fire, and she managed to stay cool under pressure, controlling the match from start to finish. It was an amazing performance by a teenager, who is 24 years younger than Venus Williams. Despite the differences in age and experience, Gauff was still able to step up to the challenge and win the match. As the two players shook hands, Gauff thanked Williams for being her idol.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” Gauff acknowledged. “I wouldn’t be here without you.”
After Gauff’s victories against Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka, it seemed like her matches started getting much tougher and harder. Fourth-round losses at Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2020 seemed to bring Gauff back down to earth. Those defeats as well as a few others gave Gauff a wake-up call. Gauff had to work much harder at her game, so she took some time off to get her act together. And that’s exactly what she did.
Since February, Gauff has won one singles title, helped win a doubles title, reached two semi-finals and competed in two quarter-finals in seven months. Now Gauff is chasing tennis greatness thanks to the critics and passion she has for the game. There’s no mistake that everything is falling in place.
Presently, Gauff is the youngest female player ranked in the Top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association and has a career-high ranking of No. 25 in the world in singles and she’s No. 42 in double matches.
As a 17-year-old tennis star, Coco Gauff is earning more money than some of her friends. According to multiple reports, Gauff has a net worth of $ 2.5 million. Going into the 2019 Wimbledon tournament, Gauff was earning $75,000 in her career. Included in her earnings, she has a sneaker company endorsement, and is featured in several TV commercials. Gauff is a big promoter for New Balance sneakers.
Since being back on the winning track, her success has made Gauff a WTA champion again. Based on her current success, she is projected to become a star in grand slam events. Gauff will not only be seeded in a grand slam event for the first time at Roland-Garros — also known as the French Open — but she will most likely be a favorite to secure the fourth and final spot in the U.S. Olympics.
Gauff is happy about her tennis future. With the help of her father, she has become a better tennis player in her two-year pro career and continues to make believers out of the haters. She has worked hard to satisfy her loyal fans.
“There was a time when people didn’t believe in me,especially during a time when people were saying ‘it’s a fluke and it will never happen again’,” Gauff said. “From that point on, I have proven all those people wrong and right now, I’m going to continue to prove them wrong again.”
Today, it’s just a matter of time before Gauff proves she’s the best Black female tennis player in the world. Right now, she is doing all the right things to make that a reality. She’s on pace to make more history in the pro tennis world. She’s definitely a teenager who’s ahead of her time.