Cori Gauff : “I don’t really feel pressure from the outside, more within. I’ve kind of gotten into this mindset like ‘If I lose, nothing is going to happen as long as I keep my composure’. Because no-one’s going to play their best game everyday, but the one thing you can control is the way you act on the court, so if I can control the controllables. And if [the opponent] plays a good match and I don’t play so well then I can’t do anything about what I’m doing on court – all I know is that I can control my attitude and just play like practice.”
Since she was 10 Gauff has been training at the Mouratoglou Academy in France: she’s coached by her dad, and is homeschooled by her mum. She may be playing at one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, but she’s still got to get an education – that’s why the evening before the first of her qualifying matches at Wimbledon, she was taking a science test.
“I ended up getting a B on the exam, which was pretty good, considering I took it at 11 at night and I had to wake up the next day for a match,” Gauff told CNN.
“After my science test, I guess some of my teachers saw the interview,” she explained. “Before that … only one teacher knew I play tennis, and I don’t think they knew I was pro. And now all of them except one know I play and they’re all cheering me on.”
Her father supports her social concern, saying he encourages her to use her voice for good: “I’ve always challenged her, from the beginning of this when we started, telling her that she’ll be able to change the world with her racket. So I’m not going to encourage her, when she gets there, to stick her head in the ground and ignore social issues.”
Cori Gauff Full Biography and Profile
Cori 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. Cori Gauff, the 15-year-old sensation, made one of the most memorable Wimbledon debuts in recent memory by beating Venus Williams.
“I think it was the Australian Open we were watching on TV when she was four or five,” he explained. “She saw me jump up celebrating when Serena won and she said, ‘Daddy, do you like that? I want to do the same thing’.”
However, Venus remains an important icon for her, too. Gauff described her first round match as a “dream draw,” – the first person she thanked for her win was Venus herself.
Speaking about the words exchanged after the match, Gauff told the BBC: “Venus told me congratulations and keep going, she said good luck and I told her thanks for everything she did.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her – I told her she was so inspiring and I’ve always wanted to tell her that but I’ve never had the guts to before.”
Coco won two more matches and is now the youngest woman to reach the second week of a Grand Slam tournament since 15-year-old Jennifer Capriati at Wimbledon in 1991.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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. On Friday, after reaching the fourth round, Gauff told people at her postmatch news conference to “please stream ERYS,” Smith’s new album.
In 2019, 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 6-4, 6-4 first-round victory against Venus Williams was her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam event. She followed it up with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Rybarikova, a surprise Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017. Gauff was put on Centre Court for her third-round match against 60th-ranked Polona Hercog, and she thrilled the crowd by rallying from being down a set and a break to win, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5. Hercog served for the match once and had two match points in the second set.
In the fourth round Monday, Gauff will face her highest-ranked opponent of the tournament: seventh-seeded Simona Halep, who was No. 1 as recently as January. Halep, 27, won the French Open in 2018 and has played three other Grand Slam finals. But this is only the fourth time in nine appearances that Halep has reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Coco Net Worth
Despite only rising to mainstream recognition in the last couple of weeks, Gauff has been making waves in the tennis world for a while now – and her trio of sponsorships prove just that.
In 2019 she’s expected to take home a comfortable $1 million from her three sponsorship deals – she’s signed with sportswear brand New Balance, Italian pasta giant Barilla and racket maker Head. And she’s under demand – New Balance only secured their deal with her after a bidding war with Nike.
Patrick Mouratoglou, who coaches Serena Williams: “I’m not surprised at the level of tennis Coco is playing. Speaking more generally, I’m not that surprised by how she is playing because I’ve known her qualities since she was 10 years old. Perhaps I’m surprised that it has come so fast. She has broken so many records so far, so I shouldn’t be that surprised that she has broken another one. I love that Coco thinks she can win the tournament. I think that’s great. Everything is possible in life. The chance of her winning the tournament is not big. There is always a chance when you believe and she believes. The thing that was amazing was when she was about to lose, when she was just one game from losing, I suddenly saw a light go on in her and she was playing at a different level because she was refusing to lose. And that is something that you see very rarely. You don’t see that very often. That was amazing – that refusal to lose allowed her to win, twice coming from match point down.”
- Cori Gauff Biography and Profile (NYT)