Cori Gauff, a star is born

 - Alix Ramsay

The RG18 girls’ champion reaches the second week of a major for the first time. The fairytale keeps on going.

Cori Gauff jumping out of joy as she realizes she wins her third round match at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Kids today: they grow up so fast.

You could almost see Cori Gauff maturing before your eyes as she played her first match on Centre Court against Polona Hercog. There she was, a 15-year-old kid living her dream in front of 15,000 people.

And there she was, having that dream turned into a nightmare as she stood a set and 4-1 down. A set and 5-2 down. Two match points down. Oh, well. She would be back again. It was a shame but she was only 15, after all.

Cori Gauff encouraging herself at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

No normal 15-year-old

But Cori was not done yet. The 15-year-old fought and scrapped like a seasoned campaigner. It was only 13 months ago that she was winning the Roland Garros junior title but now she was going toe-to-toe with a woman 13 years her elder, 13 years more experienced at this than her, and she was turning the match around.

She was helped in this by Hercog blowing her chances but that is what separates players from champions: champions take their chances, players don’t. And when Cori got her second chance, that sign of frailty from the world No.60, she grabbed it and after two hours and 47 minutes she emerged the winner 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.

This was not the performance of a 15-year-old. But then Cori is no normal 15-year-old.

Cori Gauff serving in the beautiful light at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Halep, next!

“When I was walking on the court, I kind of wasn't nervous,” she said, “but I was just like, Wow, I'm really on Centre Court. One of the most sacred courts in the world.

“When I was down 5-2, I was just like, I can fight back. Just need to hold serve, break, then we'll see what happens from there.”

She makes it sound so simple that you wonder why everyone doesn’t think that way. Down match point? Just break back and take it from there. The difference between Cori and the rest is that thinks like that and then she goes out and does it.

She will now have to go out and do it against Simona Halep on Monday. That will taking the pressure and the intensity up to a completely different level – Halep is the former Roland Garros champion and former world No.1. This is very different indeed.

“I watch her a lot obviously,” Cori said. “I've never hit with her or anything or practiced with her. I don't know how the ball would feel when I actually play, but I'm really familiar how she plays just from watching her a lot.

“She's a different player from all the players I played. They're all different in their own way. So every match I think is different. But I don't think because she's seeded will change me at all.”


Cori Gauff running for a shot at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“The reason why I dream so big"

This ability to take everything in her stride, from coming through the qualifying competition to beating Venus Williams to reaching the fourth round, comes directly from her parents, Corey and Candi. Dad is the coach and mum is… well, she is just mum. Candi does what all mums do: she provides the glue to keep everyone and everything together. Although she is getting a bit overexcited as her daughter scythes through the rounds.

“They have the biggest input, especially my mom,” Cori said. “She definitely changed my mindset in how I look on things. My dad, he's the reason why I dream so big. I think the kind of believing part of my dad and the more stay focused, stay calm of my mom is like a good mix. They definitely work together well to tell me the right things. 

“My mom kind of has to coach my dad sometimes because she doesn't really like to play the coach role, because I already have my dad as my coach. She just likes to play the mother role. Sometimes she tells him things, mostly not really dealing with tennis, but just dealing with how I act, how composed I stay on the court.”

Like a true 15-year-old

And she is composed. Candi, though, isn’t. Not when Cori has just pulled off another sensational win. The clips of her going nuts in the players’ box when Cori lands match point are going viral.

“Please tell me she's a meme,” No.1 daughter beamed and giggled. “I'm so excited to go on Instagram.”

For the first time since her Wimbledon odyssey began, she sounded like a true 15-year-old.