At just 15 years old, Coco Gauff is taking the tennis world by storm by going head-to-head against some of the biggest names in the sport. From a pair of duels with the legendary Venus Williams to a growing rivalry against fellow young superstar Naomi Osaka, Gauff is wowing everyone with her dominance of the game at such an early age.
Not since Serena Williams was making her name alongside her sister has a young prodigy shown so much promise, and it has people wondering if Gauff could be even better than women’s tennis’s reigning queen?
Coco Gauff’s rise to stardom
According to a profile in The New York Times, Gauff was born in Delray Beach, Florida, in 2004, but her family moved to Atlanta early on. She ended up back in Florida, however, when her father started coaching her for Tennis. Although both of her parents were athletes in different sports, they saw a chance for their daughter after she began watching Serena play and picked up her racket at seven years old.
Fast forward several years, and Coco Gauff was in the finals of the ITF girls’ final at the 2017 U.S. Open. She won her first final in 2017 at the French Open and capped it off with a victory at the Orange Bowl tournament. It was clear that Gauff was not going to need years to become a bona fide professional. Instead, she would just need to play like she had until she was old enough to compete as a professional.
Gauff goes pro
After a second-round loss in the qualifying for the French Open, Gauff was ranked 313th when she was invited to Wimbledon as a wildcard. She would win the three rounds needed to qualify. Her first match would come against one of her idols, the 44th-ranked Venus, whom Gauff upset in straight sets. The world was starting to take notice.
After another great showing at the U.S. Open that ended with a losing showdown with Osaka, Gauff debuted her 2020 season at the French Open, where she once again defeated Venus and upset Osaka before falling to Mallory Kenin in the fourth round. With so many signature wins before she’s old enough to drive, Gauff seems like she’s in line to be the next tennis sensation.
The next Serena Williams?
Like Coco Gauff, Serena and Venus were trained in tennis from an early age by their father. Her father took on training from an early age and tailored everything to his daughter’s strengths and weaknesses. Serena tried to play in her first tournament at just 14 years old but was denied due to her age. After an unsuccessful bid at the Bell Challenge, she lost in the first round and trained for another year before trying to go pro again.
Serena was 17 years old when she finally qualified for the main draw at the Australian Open, where she lost to Venus in the first round. It was 1999, the year that Serena was going to turn 18, that she started making waves in Grand Slams consistently, winning the French Open and beginning her dominance.
How do Coco Gauff and Serena Williams compare?
Gauff is doing more at a younger age than Serena Williams. However, the adversity that Serena faced as a teenager with failures to compete early on that drove her to become the greatest. Gauff has the poise and the skills of a seasoned veteran at an early age, but she will have to work even harder to become a top player.
According to Serena, Gauff is well-past where she was at that age, and she has consistently commended the young prodigy for getting to where she is now.
“I think it’s just all super impressive,” Williams said (per Essentially Sports). “I was nowhere near her level at 15 either on the court or off the court, not even close. I know kids are growing up differently nowadays, so I’m not sure. But I was nowhere near as smart and eloquent as she is. It’s nice to see.”
While Gauff might be where Serena could only dream at 15, it is Serena’s drive and longevity that makes her the best ever to do it. With her idol on her side and a lot of years ahead of her, however, Gauff may have the best shot at becoming the greatest ever of anyone, and her journey to do so will be exciting for fans to watch.