Can’t get enough of Coco Gauff? Here are 7 fun facts about the tennis phenom

From her background to her career journey, Coco Gauff is worth rooting for — and not just because she’s Black.

The 2023 U.S. Open is in full swing at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, and among the competing players, 19-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff has captured the attention and imaginations of viewers around the world. 

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Coco Gauff of the United States in action against Caroline Wozniackic of Denmark in the fourth round on Day 7 of the U.S. Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 3, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a tennis fan, odds are the name Coco Gauff has come across your timeline over the last week. The tennis star made headlines at the beginning of the U.S. Open after calling out umpire (the tennis equivalent to a referee) Marijana Veljovic for overlooking opponent Laura Siegemund’s continuous defiance of the game’s rules. Gauff’s decision to call out Siegemund’s behavior mid-match quickly went viral as fans applauded the young tennis star for advocating for herself. 

Since her victory against 35-year-old Siegemund, Gauff has been blazing through the tournament. Becoming the first American teenager to move on to the U.S. Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams in 2001, Gauff appears to be on the path to her own iconic and inspiring career. Here are some fun facts about the young star beyond her court stats. 

Serena Williams played a part in Coco’s early career — as Coco played Serena 

In a 2022 interview, Gauff revealed that at 10 years old, she portrayed a younger version of tennis champion Serena Williams in an unreleased commercial. 

“I don’t think they ever used [the commercial], but that was, like, my first check I ever got as a kid,” said Gauff, per Reuters. “She doesn’t know this, but the first money I ever made for myself was because of her, doing a commercial.” 

She’s currently on a winning streak

Despite experiencing a first-round defeat at 2023 Wimbledon and the French Open quarterfinals to Iga Swiatek in July, August sparked a winning streak for Gauff. The teen won her fourth WTA singles title after winning in the DC Open and went on to win another during the Cincinnati Open. As of today, Gauff has won 15 of her past 16 matches, but she’s not letting it go to her head. 

“I’m still in the mindset that I’m in the beginning of the tournament,” said Gauff in a post-game press conference. “That’s what I have learned in the past [from] being in quarterfinals. Before, I would think, ‘Close to the end.’ But right now, I have the mentality that I told myself, ‘I still have another two weeks to play.’ So that’s where my mind is at. Then, obviously, when it’s over, it’s over. But right now, I’m just saying, ‘Another two weeks.'” 

For her, tennis is more than just a physical sport 

For Gauff, tennis is both a mental and physical game. Having lost in the first round of last year’s U.S. Open, the tennis star explained how a mindset shift impacted her performance this year. 

“I wish I embraced the fun parts a little bit sooner. I thought that to play and win, you had to be ultra-serious and ultra-focused, which is true, but also, you still have to enjoy it,” said Gauff. “And I think that’s what has been the change, I’m having more fun.” 

“One of the first things [her coach] said was, ‘you need to smile more,’” she added. “I really took that […] that’s something I’m trying to work on, and obviously, I think it’s helping my results.”  

Tennis star by day, TikToker by night 

Like many teens across the country, Coco Gauff is an avid TikTok user. Her TikTok profile documents the casual, day-to-day aspects of the tennis phenomenon’s life, from participating in viral dance challenges to career reflections to laughing at her own mistakes. Unlike her Instagram profile, which primarily highlights her professional accomplishments, the athlete’s TikTok reminds fans that, at the end of the day, Gauff is still just a teenager. 

She’s been defying the odds for years

In 2018, the then-14-year-old Florida native joined the professional tennis world. A year into her professional career, Gauff defeated seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon tennis tournament. At the time, Gauff, who was 15 years old, had made history as the youngest person to qualify for the London-based tournament. During the U.S. Open that year, Gauff faced Naomi Osaka, which ultimately resulted in a loss but garnered a heartwarming moment between the two young stars. The following year, Gauff, then ranked No. 67, shocked the world when she beat Osaka, who then held the No. 1 slot. 

She’s supported by star power

Throughout her career, Gauff has received support from her training team, her family — which she describes as her primary support system — and notable public figures. The Obamas, Spike Lee, Jaden Smith (who she fangirled about), and Tina Knowles are among the many celebrities who have shown support for the pro tennis player. 

She’s enjoying a wide range of endorsements

In addition to earning money from tennis victories, Gauff has accumulated a series of partnerships and endorsements from brands across industries. In addition to her longstanding collaboration with New Balance, the tennis star has worked with Barilla, UPS, Marvel, Bose, American Eagle, Microsoft, and more. 

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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