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Volume 26 No. 84
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Endorsement Opportunities Ramping Up For Tennis Prodigy Coco Gauff

Gauff already has deals in place with Head, New Balance and pasta company Barilla
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Gauff already has deals in place with Head, New Balance and pasta company Barilla
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Gauff already has deals in place with Head, New Balance and pasta company Barilla
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Coco Gauff was ousted today in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, but her agent Tony Godsick has been "inundated with offers" from potential partners over the past week, according to Rick Broadbent of the LONDON TIMES. Godsick said the 15-year-old Gauff "could cash in absolutely -- if that was the plan," but added she "won’t rush into affiliating herself with brands in the short term." He said, "She cannot run around the world doing sponsor days. Her focus has to be running around playing tennis. We will sit down with her parents after this tournament and discuss a plan." Gauff already has deals with Head, New Balance and pasta company Barilla. Godsick declined to discuss their value, but he and Gauff "will follow" the Roger Federer plan of "having a small number of loyal, lucrative backers." Federer is a partner in Godsick's Team8 and "will be involved with Gauff, although not in an official capacity" (LONDON TIMES, 7/8). In N.Y., Christopher Clarey notes Team8 and the WTA have "received more than 300 interview requests for Gauff since Wimbledon began" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/8). In London, Chris Jones wrote Gauff has created the "launching pad for a career that could make her a worldwide brand" (LONDON TIMES, 7/7). Int'l Tennis HOFer Tracy Austin said, "I just really hope that she has solid people around her ... that make sure she just goes slow enough. You don’t need to grab everything. ... You can’t do all the endorsements" (AP, 7/7).

STAR GAZING: The GUARDIAN's Tim Lewis notes the emergence of Gauff has "been the story of Wimbledon." She arrived to the tournament "as a curiosity" and has "inspired a frenzy usually reserved for homegrown players" or stars like Federer. Her matches have "attracted the largest TV audiences and the most boisterous roars on Henman Hill" (GUARDIAN, 7/8). In N.Y., Kurt Streeter noted by Friday, Gauff was Wimbledon’s "headline act." Tournament organizers during the third round "placed Novak Djokovic, the defending men’s singles champion, on the No. 1 Court, the second largest, while Gauff got the main stage" against the 60th-ranked Polona Hercog (N.Y. TIMES, 7/6). SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote Gauff has "stolen the day" at Wimbledon and is "here to stay" in the tennis landscape (SI.com, 7/6). In London, Oliver Brown wrote Gauff's three-set victory over Hercog "transformed her from prodigy to bona fide superstar" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/7). TENNIS.com's Steve Tignor wrote if Gauff "had her star-is-born moment" when she beat Venus Williams last Monday, by Friday, she had "already learned to walk" (TENNIS.com, 7/5). ESPN.com's D'Arcy Maine wrote there are "star turns, and then there's what Gauff has done at Wimbledon." She has "made everyone Loco for Coco, and made even the stuffiest -- and most traditional -- of Wimbledon fans believers." She was "immediately trending all over the world on Twitter for her heroics" on Friday (ESPN.com, 7/5).

READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT: In London, Tom Morgan noted overnight stardom "often comes at a price." Gauff's father Corey said that he has been "preparing his daughter to eventually face criticism" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/7). Also in London, Nick Pitt wrote for Gauff there "appears to be no danger of burn-out, parental coercion or the troubles that have afflicted other tennis prodigies" (LONDON TIMES, 7/7). 

SLOWLY BUT SURELY: USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken writes tennis has “too often chewed up its prodigies before they’re fully-formed adults, leaving a trail of burnout, chronic injury and family dysfunction.” As Gauff “ascends into a stratosphere of fame that seemed unlikely this early, it’s all the more reason for tennis to be extra careful about not screwing this one up.” The Gauff family and the WTA will “undoubtedly be tempted to strike while the iron’s hot.” Every tournament will “want her in the draw, and sponsors will want her on TV, wearing their logo at every opportunity.” If Gauff is “really destined to have a special career, it’s wise to take a deep breath and let it happen slowly.” With a “talent like Gauff, trying to speed things up is the riskiest path of all” (USA TODAY, 7/8).