Fifteen-year-old tennis phenom Cori “Coco” Gauff has captivated crowds at this year’s Wimbledon and she shows no signs of stopping. With her thrilling 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 win against Slovenian Polona Hercog Friday, the American tennis star becomes the youngest player since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon. She already made history as the youngest female qualifier for a grand slam tournament in Open Era history.
Defying her young age, Gauff displayed steely composure as she pressed on to defeat Hercog in a stunning, come-from-behind victory. The match lasted more than two hours with Gauff staving off two match points. Her confidence and momentum grew after a string of winners in the pivotal second set.
Gauff ranked No. 313 when she received a last-minute wild card into the qualifying tournament. She’s been on fire ever since, first turning heads on Monday with a swift 6-4, 6-4 upset of her idol Venus Williams.
Not bad for a grand slam debut.
Gauff’s win against Hercog serves notice that, in addition to athletic ability, the young tennis star possesses the mental game and maturity to battle back from adversity.
“I always knew that I could come back no matter what the score was,” Gauff told the BBC after her gutsy win. “The crowd was amazing. Even when I was down match point, they were still cheering me on. I’m super thankful they believed in me.”
Indeed, Gauff has been such a crowd-pleaser that her match was the Centre Court headliner on Friday. Fans of the young star can watch her again on Monday when she’ll take on seventh-seeded and former No. 1 Simona Halep.
Paige Elliott is the digital editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.